By far one of the hardest parts of going natural was the transitioning phase. The main reason why I found it hard was because I had no idea what to expect and I hadn't the slightest clue how to take care of my hair. But as soon as I started researching I found out things that worked best for my hair and I would like to share those tips.
Trim Your Hair
No matter what state your hair is in your should trim it but it's especially important to trim when you are transitioning. It's important to keep your hair trimmed so that it can stay free from fairy knots and split ends which can lead to breakage. No, trimming does not make you hair grow any faster but with you keeping it trimmed you are sure to retain length rather than lose your length. Also when should you trim your hair? I say trim whenever you feel it's needed. I've heard things such as every 6 weeks, 6 months or once a year but honestly your hair may need trimming more frequently than every 6 months or less than every 6 weeks. Just make sure you pay attention to your ends and know when it's time for them to be clipped rather than follow a time schedule.
Styling transitioning hair can be tricky due to the fact that you are dealing with two textures. The best way to deal with the both of them is to blend both of them. Styles that can help blend relaxed ends and the natural roots are flexi rods, perm rods, curlers, braid-outs, twist outs and bantu knots. If you do not know how to do these styles yourself you can easily look them up on a blog or Youtube. My usage of Youtube was HEAVY during my transitioning period, I was always looking for styles. Another way of styling is weave. The weaves that I found the easiest to deal with during transitioning was braids and Senegalese (rope) twists, they provided a way for me not to deal with my hair for awhile. Wigs and half wigs are also a great way to transition. Sew-in's are also a nice way to transition but you have to be careful about leaving hair out and trying to blend it with the weave by using heat and that brings me to the next point.
Limit Your Heat Usage
Heat damage is not a pretty thing. I remember when I wore my first sew-in when I was transitioning and I left some of my hair out. I tried not to flat iron my hair but the Florida heat made that impossible every morning I would wake up and set my flat iron to the highest setting and proceed to burn my hair. Even though that was 9 months ago and I have since Big chopped I still can see signs of that heat damage so as you can tell heat damage is something you don't want to deal with.
With the styles I have listed about they are all heatless so heat will not be needed to achieve them. So there is no reason for you to blow dry and/or flat iron your hair trying to achieve them. However if you choose to use heat on your hair don't use it often and make sure you use a heat protectant and set your drying and/or iron on the lowest heat setting so you won't end up frying your hair.
Start Your Regimen Building
Although having a regimen to take care of your natural hair isn't mandatory it's one of those things that is great to have. A regimen is a way to better take care of your hair to make sure it is healthy. Before I built one I use to just wash my hair with shampoo and (maybe) put conditioner in it then proceed to blow dry and flat iron it, no wonder my hair always was so limp and lifeless. With a steady regimen that you will build you will already have a better idea of how to take care of your hair when you decide to go fully natural. I have friends who have transitioned for months and once they big chop they still don't know how to take of their hair. If you build a regimen while you transition you will most definitely have a better feel of how to take care of your hair and what products will and will not work once you go fully natural.
Don't Be Afraid to Big Chop
Yes this is a list about transitioning but sooner or later the ends will have to go. Some women transition for a few weeks others for a couple of years there is no correct or incorrect time period to transition it depends on how comfortable the person is with their natural hair. But honestly (I hope I don't step on any toes with this one. LOL) you may never feel comfortable with the thought of chopping your hair. Myself for example was never Gung-ho about cutting my hair but I began to notice I struggled with it everyday, my styles became limited, my permed ends where too straight, stiff and thin while my natural was curly, soft and thick (yes it was a horrible combo to deal with) and my bob I had wasn't flattering if it wasn't bone straight which I couldn't get it to be that way and weaves drove me crazy. All this and yet I refused to cut my hair, I finally broke down and forced myself to go to Super-Cuts and cut it all off and I made myself like it. I probably wasn't fully comfortable with my hair until a few weeks later then I loved it. The whole purpose of that little story was to say you may not be comfortable with cutting your hair but it will have to happen sometime. A guy who once did my hair told me, "You should never be afraid to cut your hair." I didn't fully understand him until I finally took that plunge myself. There will probably be some days where you don't like your shorter locs but just remember, "It's hair, it will grow back!" :-)
Well that's all the advice I have for today guys! Remember I don't claim to be a stylist or an expert. I've learned from myself and others, I'm just here to pass along advice that I think maybe helpful for you. Hate it or Love it just let me know. Thanks again for reading! -Krystal