Natural hair has many advantages, but transitioning from relaxed hair to natural hair shouldn't be taken lightly. Here are some common pitfalls women with relaxed hair encounter when transitioning to natural hair:
Skimp on your hair care routine- natural hair requires a significant amount of TLC to flourish. The biggest mistake that women make is assume that natural hair will flourish with the same or less maintenance than relaxed hair. While natural hair retains the strong bonds that are lost during the relaxing process, it has a harder time holding onto moisture so regular deep conditioning sessions are an absolute must.
Immediately transition to full (or near full)-time protective style use. For some women, the added time commitment of natural hair is too much to handle. As a result, some women prefer to wear braids, wigs or weave full time. Unfortunately, since natural hair tends to be drier than relaxed hair, it is more prone to breakage when using any form of extensions. If you plan on transitioning to natural hair, plan to wear your hair out as much as possible to ensure your hair remains healthy.
Make assumptions about your eventual curl pattern- for women who have worn their hair relaxed for most of their lives, their natural curls are a complete mystery. You may assume that you have type 4A hair only to learn that your curl pattern is 4C and many of those styles that you planned to wear may not be suitable for your hair type. It's very important to keep an open mind about your curls and recognize that your curls are beautiful even if they don't fit your earlier expectations.
Choose to wear your hair straight most of the time this is one of the most common mistakes I encounter among women with natural hair. If you are someone who prefers to wear your hair straight on most days, you should know that in the long run, relaxed hair is healthier than heat damaged natural hair. Heat styling tools like flat irons and curling irons should be considered a rare luxury a few times a year, regardless if you a chemical free or not.
Return to relaxed hair too quickly without giving your natural hair a chance to grow on you- if you are going to transition to natural hair, consider at least a 12 month period of wearing your hair natural before deciding what to do. This is especially true if you have not done a "big chop". Hair only grows 1/2 inch per month so while you may be dissatisfied with hair in the first few months, as you settle into your hair care routine, you may find yourself falling in love with your curls
Fall victim to curl shaming- I wrote about this in my last blog post, but it is so so important to not let society dictate how you feel about your hair. Some women may feel curl envy, wishing they had a different (often looser) curl pattern. Please remember to love your hair. This will also motivate you to stick with a healthy hair routine and enjoy flaunting your curls. If you need motivation, check out YouTube videos from bloggers with your curl pattern to get you back on track.