When I was young, I was like my mother's own personal black Barbie. She would play in my scalp every day, braid my hair, and send me to Malibu. Ok, that didn't happen, but she took care of my hair like I took care of my toy dolls. My hair flourished, and I had not a care in the world.
Then, I got to middle school and 10 types of hell broke loose. All the fly girls rocked perms and relaxers. My young 12-year-old mind was mesmerized by the bouncy, soft and sleek look of the cool girls’ post-creamy crack hairstyles. I had to have it. After 12 years of growing my long and healthy natural hair, I wanted a relaxer*. *I was ready for my transformation and even my momma couldn't tell me nothin'.
We went to the local hair salon where it smelled like lye and bleach were the only things on the menu. Approximately 3 hours later, I had sleek, bouncy straight hair with Kelly Rowland circa 2002 flips on the ends. I WAS ECSTATIC. I didn't care that I didn't instantly become one of the cool girls on campus. My hair actually moved when the wind blew and flipped on command--the key to my seventh grade happiness.
Until it became my seventh grade nightmare. After about two months, it was time to go in for another round of frying my strands into submission. Except this time my mom (and yes, I fully blame her for this) wanted to buy the $10.99 boxed relaxer from the drugstore. I didn't know any better so I obliged. I came out with straight hair again, but it didn't look nearly as good. In a few weeks, I noticed my hair started to get shorter, and I couldn't put it into a smooth ponytail anymore without pieces of hair sticking up. I later learned what I was experiencing was hair breakage. A lot of it. I immediately regretted my decision to relax, and ruined my natural hair in just 8 short months. World record or nah?
After I destroyed my hair to chase popularity, I decided to transition back to natural. After tons of trial-and-error (and many bad hair days), I discovered weaves and wigs. And they completely transformed my hair! While my hair was tucked away under extensions, it began to grow longer, get thicker, and looked like the hair I had known before my relaxer.
If you went through a huge setback with your natural hair like me, or you just want to transition to natural, weaves and wigs might just be your key to salvation! Here are quick tips on how to transition to natural hair using weave:
Don't Marry Your Weave
One of the biggest mistakes we make when transitioning to natural hair with weaves is wearing the weave for too long. If your hair underneath your weave is matted, or has a ton of product buildup, it was time to take that weave out yesterday. We surveyed our a sample size of over 50,000 Mayvenn stylists and they recommend keeping a sew-in for no more than 8 weeks at a time. I'm all too familiar with the shiny new feeling of putting in a fresh weave, but your hair will suffer without a break. After you take out a weave, give your natural hair at least two weeks to breathe. Then you can feel free to throw your tracks back in.
Clean Your Hair, Your Real Hair Too
When I had my first weave installed, I thought I was off the hook from taking care of my hair. I rarely washed it and let my hair regimen fall to the wayside. This is a big no-no! You should be cleaning your weave and natural hair at least once a week with specially formulated shampoos and conditioners. When cleansing underneath your weave, use clarifying and sulfate-free shampoos to get rid of product buildup. For your weave hair, it's safe to use most standard shampoos and conditioners sold at your local beauty supply store. When you're done cleansing, make sure to completely dry your scalp to avoid mildew and mold growing in your hair. It's gross, but it happens!
Get Wiggy With It
"You wake up, flawless..." Why, yes Beyoncé, I did! If you're a lazy girl like me, the absolute last thing you want to do is figure out how to style your hair every morning. Enter the wig. These will be your best bet for a successful transition if you're a sew-in newbie. They require less upkeep, you can access your hair more easily, and, the best part, they're already styled! This was my go-to protective styling choice because I was able to moisturize and seal my scalp everyday. If you want a fast and fierce protective style without the commitment, go for a wig.
Monitor Your Scalp
Since your scalp isn't getting as much time to breathe, it's important to pay close attention to it. Get in between those tracks and show your scalp some love! Moisturize and seal your natural hair with light oils as much as you need to, and give yourself weekly scalp massages to increase blood flow. This is more true for a wig than a weave, but once I learned how to make my first U-part wig my natural hair truly flourished. I took it off every night which gave me access to my scalp on the regular. I did my daily, weekly, and monthly haircare regimen with ease--all while completely eliminating the need to manipulate my hair.
Avoid Heat Damage
Chemical damage and heat damage are one in the same, and both are trying to hold you back from your hair goals. If you're wearing a hair texture that doesn't match your own, your first thought might be to whip out a hot tool to make your hair match your weave. After wearing a number of different weaves over the years, I'll fill you in on a not-so-secret secret: Make the weave match your hair. Not the other way around. Wear kinkier textures that don't need to be manipulated, leave less hair out, or buy a closure or frontal to match a silkier texture. I'm obsessed with closures and frontals since they broaden the textures you can rock, and you'll be protecting your edges. You too can wear silky straight 24" blonde bundles, just make sure to wear a closure.