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Top 6 Reasons Women Fail in Their Transition to Natural Hair

• Sep 7, 2012

By Jc of The Natural Haven Bloom

Transitioning to natural hair is not easy for everyone. For some people it may take two, three or even more trials to finally embrace natural hair. I was about 19 when I transitioned to natural hair and I literally woke up one day and decided that I would never relax my hair again and that was it. I realise that this is actually unusual and it is more common to find people struggling with natural hair especially in the early stages. Here are the top reasons why transitioning may be difficult and what to do if you are struggling to transition:

1. Nothing catastrophic happened to your relaxed hair

If your hair is currently processed in some way (relaxed, texlaxed etc) and it is well taken care of, meaning not overprocessed, no overt breakage, no relaxer burns etc, you are unlikely to have a compelling reason to stop relaxing your hair. Your reasons would have to be more organic for example reducing the expense of chemical processing, reducing time spent on maintenance of the processed hair and /or stopping the use of chemical processing or even wanting to change your personal aesthetic. These reasons although valid, simply do not have the urgency related to loss of hair or persistent scalp problems. They therefore can be postponed indefinitely and therefore the solution is to set a deadline and stick to it.

2. Negative feedback/resistance from friends, family and significant others

It is your hair and you should do what makes you happy with it. If your friends or relatives say negative things about your hair (and some are going to!)then it is your choice to select your reaction. You can ignore it, you can educate the person,  you can fight the person or you can let it affect you. In general, the first two are usually the better options and I would go as far as to say that you should not transition at all until you can ignore negative comments or educate people without being defensive. Words can have a great impact on self confidence, if you are low on confidence, do not jump into transitioning without preparation.

3. Straight hair thinking with natural hair

When are you going to do your hair?’ or ‘What are you going to do with your hair?’ These are the two most common questions I received in the first two years of being natural.  A short moisture drenched beautifully shrunken afro with a flower clip for some reason meant that my hair was not ‘done’. If you hair does not form natural tendrils and spirals, then frizz (or a fuzz halo as I call it) is bound to be part of your normal look some of the time. If your hair forms tendrils and spirals, some days you will have frizz depending on the weather and products you use. You have to change your version of what it means to have your hair ‘done’ into what your hair actually does.

4. You’re not yet comfortable with the reflection in the mirror

Some of us were fortunate enough to grow up with natural hair and therefore are used to seeing ourselves as well as our peers with natural hair. Some people were relaxed at a young age and therefore are used to the image of straight natural hair. Some of us were taught to relate relaxing hair with growing up and therefore struggle with the idea of embracing natural hair as it appears to be a regression to childhood. For a smooth transition, you have to spend time in the mirror looking at that hair and that new image. Accepting that image for some takes seconds, for others it is a struggle over years. The more positive adjectives you use to describe yourself and your hair, the more you can condition yourself to accept and embrace that new image before chopping the relaxed hair.

5. You have not done your research — properly

The advent of forums, blogs and YouTube mean that information about natural hair is plentiful. The mistake that some transitioners make is sticking with information from a small set of people whose hair they like. Unfortunately, natural hair is not a one size fits all deal. It comes in different thickness, curl patterns and kinkiness. The worst thing to do is to emulate someone else’s routine without tweaking it if necessary to suit your texture. Something as simple as combing hair soaking wet with conditioner is very popular on youtube as is the infamous denman brush, yet on some hair these things are terrible. If a tool or technique does not work after a couple of trials and tweaking, it is not for your hair.

6. Lack of patience

Some people are able to transition but after 6 months or a year are ready to give up. Often the reasons cited include lack of length and problems with detangling. The fact is that it takes a long time to get long hair and with natural hair, the longer it gets, the more time and effort it requires to maintain (at least when it comes to detangling). Having short natural hair is a perfectly good solution as is locking natural hair. However, if it is your determination to have free form natural hair, a good dose of patience and protective styling is going to be mandatory in your journey.

Ladies, if you tried and failed to go natural, what were the reasons? What kind of challenges did you face?

About The Natural Haven

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Kim
Guest

The first time I failed at my transition/ natural hair journey it was because of reasons 1–5. I’m back at it and I am happy to say I think I’ve put those issues behind me 🙂

Cynthia
Guest

Well I have been natural for almost a year and one of the things I do struggle with at times is detangling. I know why though lol. Its due to my lack of patience with the time it takes to do it. Its something im working on accepting and embracing.

Sista Voyage
Guest

How do you detangle your hair?

Nicole
Guest

Hi,

You have to find that right conditioner for you to help your hair detangle easily, I started using Oyin Honey Hemp conditioner and this is amazing for my hair, it detangles so easy!

you tube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/Nicolnaturals?feature=guide

sheryl
Guest
sheryl

My lack of patience is actually why I succeeded. I was sick of transitioning and wanted to be natural already, so I chopped.

Court
Guest
Court

How long did it take you to make that discovery that chopping would be better? How low was it? and Finally, How long did it take for you to be comfortable with your reflection/hair length?

Inf
Guest
Inf

Ditto for me.

@Court.…transitioned 6 mths, last two wit braids. I remembered how much I hated removing braids and big chopped on the second set. It was 3–4 inches. I cut an inch or two of the new growth cuz the texture was off (maybe scab hair). I was good with my coily twa once I figured out the product combo.…4 hrs and 5 product wash outs later.

Brianna
Guest

I am currently transitioning. 13 months next week. I was natural for a while and ended up perming after I suffered heat damage. Like major all over pin straight hair. I didn’t suffer any breakage, but it was just dull and flat. Yuck. Now a year later I am happy to say i’ll be big chopping in December. I have about 2–3 inches of relaxed ends left and I’ll be glad when they are gone. Another thing to add to the list: Length before transition. What’s made my transition easy is being able to grecian braid my hair. If my… Read more »

sarah
Guest
sarah

i went natural in spite of reason #1. my hair was perfectly fine relaxed but i just did not like my hair straight. never really did. you don’t need to have a relaxer hair story to catalyze going natural.

HannibalMrs.
Guest
HannibalMrs.

NUMBER 3 for me! If I had a PENNY for all those who said, “Girl what you doing with your hair”. MY OWN PEOPLE! There should be #7)BLACK GIRLS ARE AFRAID TO CUT THEIR HAIR! What they don’t realize, is cutting hair stimulates the growth. My permed hair was 20″ or so (it rested on my boobs). Cut it down to a Florida Evans Fro because I did not have 7 years to wait until the perm grew out. MY Co‐workers LITERALLY sat me down for an INTERVENTION! Told me they thought I “WENT LAURYN HILL!” HELLO FOOLS, IT IS… Read more »

Miss Jay
Guest
Miss Jay

I’m new to this life of being a naturalist. I got tired of waiting for the perm to grow out so I cut it out myself. Not sure if that was the best option but it felt great. My main concern is what next? I know absolutely nothing about what products to use, and everyone has a theory. My line of work requires me to be presentable at all times. Being a full figured woman with short hair ontop a full face totally freaks me out, thank God I’m a confident woman. So I’ve been wearing extensions for comfort. Your… Read more »

df
Guest
df

I think #3 is why some women go back to relaxers. I’ve heard it many times and of course, it’s fine..it’s their choice.

honeybrown1976
Guest
honeybrown1976

I have patience. I’m 28 months in.

B
Guest
B

Patience and a Go‐to‐hairstyle 12 months in.…

anita trotty
Guest
anita trotty

Another reason is not having a professional hair styling who can assisst with making the transition.

Marlea
Guest

This seems to be my problem. They have their own set of products for usage, rough with the hair when drying and operate to be efficient with time & resources. It seems that I always have better luck when I’m in charge of the shampooing & conditioning. I’m in tune with the needs of my hair and you can’t find stylist that ar sensitive to the natural hair needs especially here in DETROIT…

Miss Jay
Guest
Miss Jay

Its been 6 months for me, still don’t know how to manage my hair. Eventually I’m gonna have to take out the extensions, how do I maintain without a good hair stylist?

LoLa
Guest
LoLa

These reasons are so true!!! Transitioning is definitely a mental and physical transformation.

AbenaQ
Guest
AbenaQ

I transitioned because I just got tired of trying so many relaxers but non really relaxed my hair. I kept jumping from one relaxer to another from advice of beauticians. I will relax and the next few days, my hair looks almost like its natural form. So I decided why bother. I got my last relaxer in 2009 and in 2010 did locs for about six month when I still had few relaxed hair on the surface. I did the BC in 2011 February. I realized, most of the times, it our Black folks that make the journey difficult with… Read more »

Sista Voyage
Guest

Added reasons many give up in their transition:
1.They don’t know how to style natural hair! For me personally, when I first went natural, it took some time to maintain the ‘natural look’ I was excited about trying out on my hair.
2.Looking at someone else hair and desiring their texture only to be disappointed because it doesn’t look or act like the mane of the admired.

K-Jo
Guest
K-Jo

#1 is me all over. My relaxed hair was past bra strap length and very healthy (no breakage, split ends etc)at one point but i very rarely wore it down. I preferred to wear french rolls, updo’s and buns. I always liked big hair with lots of volume and straight relaxed hair wasn’t doing it for me. My hair got dreadfully BORING so i decided to transition. Best decision i ever made. I big chopped in June of 2011 after 11 months of transitioning. And now i’m 3 months into my locing journey.

Nicole
Guest

Hi I had the same problem with detangling. I had to find that right conditioner that will do the trick. I tried Oyin honey hemp conditioner and this does wonders for my hair.

you tube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/Nicolnaturals?feature=guide
blog ssnaturalhealings.blogspot.com

CMP
Guest
CMP

Hi! I’m 14 years old and I decided to transition mostly for the freedom. With my relaxed hair I alone couldn’t do anything with it and I needed help from my mother. I’ve also ALWAYS wanted big curly hair and I figured it would be easier to transition and learn how to work with my hair now rather than later on. So I got a set of box braids during the Summer kept them in for a month and some change and when they were out I decided I was done with relaxers. My dad was totally against it saying… Read more »

TheMystical
Guest
TheMystical

Totally can relate, 14 too. At least you kept up. My mom wasn’t so supportive about the going natural thing; and finally after being fed up with the discouragement, I let her put a texturizer in my hair. Big MISTAKE. She left it in too long! and some were textured and straight. I think my hair is even more damaged. Whenever I washed it a lot of hair would fall it. Let me not even talk about detangling, what a pain! Just great for me because I had some relaxed hair and it wasn’t so healthy. This all started because… Read more »

TheMystical
Guest
TheMystical

I would say that I fail to complete my hair journey Because of lack of patience. I wanted long natural hair, and I wasn’t ready to wait. Plus the fact I would always continuously use and mix different products together. I also, didn’t properly detangle or have all the tools I NEEDED. It’s a new year and fresh start, wish me luck !

Maxine
Guest
Maxine

I’m not sure if I’m going to go natural yet because I’m not confident I’d be able to pull it off. My sister is in the process if transitioning and her hair looks great, I however love having straight hair. I was thinking about transitioning because my hair suffered damage about 3/4 years ago and it hasn’t been the same since, any advice? Also my hair gets dry really easy what kind of products should I try?

Jai
Guest
Jai

Hi, I currently have my first weave in and I get it taken out next month, I don’t want a perm I want to transition into natural hair, which is totally new for me because I’ve had permed hair since the age of 3, I’m 20 now. My question is during the transition before big chopping are braids okay? I ask because I’ve heard from Natural youtubers that the point where your hair is relaxed and the natural hair starts is very weak so I don’t want to add stress that might cause all of it to fall out. If… Read more »

Tobe
Guest
Tobe

Braids definitely give me more love than weaves. Plus they are more versatile.

Tobe
Guest
Tobe

I’m 14months into my transition and my greatest problem has to be managing my hair when its dry. Its so painful to comb. I’ve used braids through most of my transition and its been awesome!!!

Ronda
Guest
Ronda

I tried last year to go natural and failed. After puting in weave around the time I needed a perm ( I’m not a weave person either)I did not perm my hair when I took it out 5 weeks later. I had about 3 or 4 inches of new growth. I tried for about 3 weeks to go natural after that, but I was just uninformed and frustrated with trying to style my hair. Especially without heat. My hair was like yarn and I told myself I just needed to take better care of my permed hair. I have started… Read more »

Jeremiah
Guest

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page, i am visiting this web page dailly and get pleasant information from here every day.

trackback

[…] natural state, and then to form loc’s.  I suppose, now‐a‐days, one would say that I “transitioned” over the course of three years from processed to natural […]

poetic
Guest
poetic

I am in natural for the 2nd time & I’d be lying if I said it’s not a challenge. My new growth leaves me feeling overwhelmed a lot but the ends are Easy to manage why is that? I guess I just have to keep working on it.

Delia
Guest

I’m going natural this month and scheduling my big chop very soon. My main issues with transitioning were people believing I couldn’t do it and that I was trying to retain the perm hair and protect my new growth so I wouldn’t have to big chop. This morning, after having to laboriously untangle my Senegalese twists, I said OH FORGET IT!! And tomorrow I’m calling stylist so she can chop it off. ^_^

that girl
Guest
that girl

eermaghaadd, number 3 O_O i got that for years “soo when are you going to relax it?” both guys and girls would ask me, my “friends” were adamant that kinky was not the way to go as they were some how convinced my hair couldnt grow in its natural state saying relaxed hair grows longer (little did they know relaxed hair was simply the straightening of your kinky hair, for shame). i kept saying “one daayy man one day” but you know what! the one day will never come! muhuhuhuhu andyou know wht! my hair is the longest it has… Read more »

Tina
Guest
Tina

Hey there, great blog! Great insight too. I have been either relaxed or pressed for over 20 years. My earliest memories always contain straight hair. I didn’t encounter natural hair until I had a daughter. I fell in love with her hair in its natural state. I straightened it a few times and loved to see how long it was, but in all honesty I preferred her hair natural. I started thinking, if I could take such good care of her hair and grow it past her waist, why was I sitting here struggling with relaxed hair I can’t get… Read more »

Nahomi Lamour
Guest
Nahomi Lamour

Hi! Thank you for the article!… I’ve been transitioning since the end of October, and, as you know, the first 6 months were very manageable, but now it’s starting to become a nightmare because of my tangling problems, specially on the back of my head, the amount of hair that I’ve lost is worrying. I’ve always have reasonable much hair and I’ve always had problems detangling my hair (even when it was fully relaxed) but now is a nightmare… I want to give up but I’m kinda forced into going natural because where I’m living now (Argentina) there is no… Read more »

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