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Ahh­h­h­h­hh, love. Fresh off of Valentine’s Day (or Single’s Aware­ness Day), rem­nants of love are every­where: in the form of slow­ly with­er­ing flow­ers, ted­dy bears, half-eat­en can­dy, and can­celled din­ner plans. Valentine’s Day, although a com­mer­cial hol­i­day with (what some believe to be) the sole aim of mak­ing mon­ey, is still a great time to learn about love. Not just rela­tion­ship love, friend­ship love, or fam­i­ly love, but self-love. And what bet­ter place to start with love than our hair?

I’ve said it sev­er­al times before, the transitioner’s jour­ney is a spe­cial one. As com­fort­ing as it can be to retain or main­tain length while the nat­u­ral hair comes in, it can be a frus­trat­ing process that leaves you star­ing at your scis­sors, flat-iron, or perm kit more often than not. I’m here to encour­age you to hang in there! Here are five chal­lenges tran­si­tion­ers often face, and how to over­come them (and love your hair even more):

Chal­lenge #1 Bal­anc­ing Mul­ti­ple Tex­tures

Of all the chal­lenges, this is the most dif­fi­cult that tran­si­tion­ers face on a reg­u­lar basis. When it comes to detan­gling and cleans­ing, it seems as though nat­u­ral­is­tas with more uni­formed tex­tures have an eas­ier time — espe­cial­ly with tools like Den­man brush­es, Tan­gle Tamers, and more. Even fin­ger detan­gling can be a chal­lenge for tran­si­tion­ing tress­es. Rather than lament on how so-and-so on YouTube makes their detan­gling process look like a breeze, take stock of your own sit­u­a­tion. First of all, get excit­ed about the pro­gress you’ve made. Even if you’ve only been tran­si­tion­ing for two weeks, you can still see a notice­able change at the roots of your hair. If you’re far­ther along, check out the cute nat­u­ral pat­tern you have com­ing in. Instead of engag­ing in deficit think­ing (i.e. what you don’t have), get excit­ed about what’s there. So what if you can’t rock a wash n’ go yet? There are plen­ty of 100% nat­u­ral­is­tas that can’t. Instead of obsess­ing about half curly/half straight hair, find styles and tech­niques that allow you to take advan­tage of your tran­si­tion­ing tress­es. In fact, when I rock a sat­in strip braid­out or straw set, no one can even tell that I’m tran­si­tion­ing — and that makes me feel good at times when I’m frus­trat­ed with the mul­ti­ple tex­ture thing. Find your stride, and keep it mov­ing.

Chal­lenge #2 If Only My Curls Looked Like.…

Stop. Right now. We tran­si­tion­ers loooooooove to spend our time scru­ti­niz­ing our half-curly/half-straight tress­es, while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly oogling the boun­ti­ful­ly thick coifs of our favorite blog­gers and vlog­gers. Yes, their manes are gor­geous. Their tress­es are fierce. Their col­or, coils, and kinks are to die for. I under­stand, believe me, I do. How­ev­er, wor­ship­ing anoth­er woman’s hair while look­ing at yours in dis­gust is a recipe for tran­si­tion fail­ure. See, we tran­si­tion­ers are in prime posi­tion to learn a great lesson about hair. Because tran­si­tion­ing is such a long and drawn out process, we have no choice but to accept our hair as-is. And while we’re tol­er­at­ing it, we might as well learn to love it…right? As tran­si­tion­ers, we have a won­der­ful oppor­tu­ni­ty to embrace our hair — on good days, and bad. The tex­ture you have is the tex­ture you’re stuck with… you may as well go ahead and love it. Like the old song says: If you can’t be with the one you love, hon­ey, love the one you’re with. 

Chal­lenge #3 Deal­ing with Dam­age 

As tran­si­tion­ers, we should under­stand from the out­set that a cer­tain amount of our hair is dam­aged, and pre­dis­posed to more dam­age despite how much we scale back heat use, and how much we pro­tec­tive­ly style. Tran­si­tion­ing hair is more sen­si­tive. It is more prone to split ends, dry­ness, and that line of demar­ca­tion between new growth and dam­aged hair is a beast. Tran­si­tion­er hair tends to be trimmed more fre­quent­ly. Due to all the­se fac­tors and more, tran­si­tion­ers shouldn’t expect to retain absurd amounts of length. Once you have accept­ed this, you can move on to lov­ing your tran­si­tion­ing tress­es. Instead of lament­ing over how frag­ile your hair is, dis­cov­er a sense of accom­plish­ment and excite­ment in find­ing the best detan­gling and styling tech­niques and prod­ucts that help you min­i­mize hair loss. My post-detan­gling hair­balls are my per­son­al bench mark — I am obsessed with mak­ing the amount of hair in my hands small­er and small­er. Also, rather than get dis­cour­aged every time you do a trim, think of it as mak­ing room for new­er, health­ier hair.

Chal­lenge #4: Back­slid­ing 

Over the past year or so, I have noticed a pat­tern with my hair. It starts trip­pinnnnnnnn OUT at about the mid­way point between flat-iron­ing ses­sions (usu­al­ly 1.5–2 months). No style seems right, hair prod­ucts and tools won’t coop­er­ate like they nor­mal­ly do, and detan­gling seems to be a night­mare. At the­se par­tic­u­lar times in our jour­ney, we tran­si­tion­ers are espe­cial­ly vul­ner­a­ble. Rather than hun­ker down and see it through, that flat iron starts to look more appeal­ing. The creamy crack itch begs to be scratched. Dur­ing the­se times, it is espe­cial­ly impor­tant to remind your­self of why you began to tran­si­tion in the first place. May­be it was for a per­son­al chal­lenge. Or per­haps you dam­aged your hair to the point of no return. What­ev­er the case may be, con­tin­u­ous­ly reit­er­ate to your­self why you chose to embark on this nat­u­ral hair jour­ney. I am a visu­al and tactile/kinesthetic learn­er, mean­ing I process infor­ma­tion best by see­ing, touching/feeling, and doing. So for me, when­ev­er I start feel­ing frus­trat­ed and tempt­ed to pre­ma­ture­ly straight­en, I go in the annals of my phone and pull up a pic­ture of my hair from Jan­u­ary 2012. It was thin, dam­aged, break­ing, and super unhealthy. Then, I touch or play with some of the curls/coils that have grown in this year’s time. Usu­al­ly, that is enough to sati­ate my desire to straight­en, and get me excit­ed about what the future holds for my hair.

Chal­lenge #5 Just Cut it Already!

Pres­sure. So much pres­sure. On so many of the blogs and on Insta­gram, I see Nat­u­ral Hair Deputies prod­ding and pres­sur­ing (some, quite nas­ti­ly) tran­si­tion­ers to cut their hair. I under­stand, every­body just wants every­one to embrace their God-given tex­ture and rock it bold­ly. Trust me, I do too…even­tu­al­ly. Some­where between the urg­ing of oth­ers and our own frus­tra­tions, reach­ing for the scis­sors can be all too tempt­ing. But what we all must keep in mind that the nat­u­ral hair jour­ney is a marathon for some, and a sprint for oth­ers. Every­one must go at a pace that is com­fort­able for their own pro­gress and suc­cess. So don’t you pick up those scis­sors unless you’re at a length you’re com­fort­able with, and you’re ready to make the chop. Oth­er­wise, you are walk­ing some­one else’s jour­ney and not your own. Stay true to you.

What oth­er tran­si­tion­er chal­lenges have you learned to love your hair through?

Christina Patrice

Born, raised, and liv­ing in Los Ange­les, Christi­na is BGLH’s res­i­dent tran­si­tion­ing expert and pro­duct junkie. In addi­tion to lov­ing all things hair, she is a fit­ness novice and advo­cate of wear­ing san­dals year-round. For more infor­ma­tion on tran­si­tion­ing, nat­u­ral hair, and her own hair jour­ney, vis­it maneobjective.com. Or, if you like pic­tures fol­low Christi­na on Insta­gram @maneobjective.

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15 Comments on "How to Overcome the 5 Biggest Challenges of Transitioning"

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Alucynda

My biggest prob­lem is that my hair has mul­ti­ple tex­tures and try­ing to find the right styles (out­side of my beloved blowouts) is a chal­lenge. I tried flat twists/twist out and used perm rods on the end. It looked nice for about 3 days. There is a sec­tion of my hair in the back that is more 4b/c with very lit­tle curl pat­tern and the front and sides which have a slight wave into a full curl. Ugh

Sierra
It is SOOOOO nice to real­ize that I am not the only girl going through this. I real­ly felt all alone because I am not near any peple who can help teach me about my hair in it’s nat­u­ral state.  I deal with the temp­ta­tion to back­slide too, but it helps the temp­ta­tion that I could nev­er do a relax­er on my own lls. I don’t want to cut it all off (and trust me I have got­ten that more than once), because I just wish It would grow. Then There’s the issue of hav­ing like 4b in the mid­dle and… Read more »
Aleeshai

I have a major prob­lem tran­si­tion right now; I have seb­or­rhe­ic der­mati­tis and my hair breaks right from the root because of this, so in cer­tain places I am bold. I have no idea what to do with it and I am stuck wear­ing wigs. My nat­u­ral is grow­ing well (at least the parts that have hair) but it looks ter­ri­ble. Does any­body have any clue as to what I should do?

Danita

It was actu­al­ly pret­ty fun­ny read­ing the­se chal­lenges because I’ve been tran­si­tion­ing for 2 months and this past week my hair has been dri­ving me com­plete­ly crazy! It just doesn’t want to do any­thing. I final­ly fig­ur­ing it out.
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Kenya

Thanks for this arti­cle! I’m learn­ing to not be so anx­ious and enjoy this jour­ney to my nat­u­ral curls. My plan was to go at least a year before cut­ting off the relaxed ends and almost pulled about the scis­sors the oth­er day! I’m off the ledge now! Thanks!

Courtney GB

I am 3 months in. I need some advice quick! I am won­der­ing if I can do Ban­tu knots

Kenya

Sure you can! I’m almost 6 months in and I’ve done ban­tu knots a cou­ple of times and I am not that great at hair. So you can too!

Beautifully Misunderstood
What I am find­ing to be a chal­lenge is the guilt I feel when think­ing of pro­tec­tive styling through a weave install. I feel like I’m NOT acknowl­edg­ing the nat­u­ral code or some­thing. I’ve been relax­er free for over a decade now but the time it takes to pre­pare hair. OMG!!! I’ve always loved cleans­ing my hair. The issue I’m hav­ing is the styling. I’m using rollers and I think I’m going to try the curl­form­ers. The knots I’m expe­ri­enc­ing are too much for me.  At this point, I think I’m gonna just braid/weave for a min­ute to spare my hair… Read more »
Trasitioning_Natural

Easy fix for that (along with the oth­er comment)Just get a nat­u­ral style weave you can still rock a nat­u­ral­ly curly look and still stay true to the move­ment. more pow­er to you.

Brownsugasmile02

Hey. Girl don’t feel bad about using weave. The point of being nat­u­ral is that you don’t have chem­i­cal­ly processed hair where your hair tex­ture is being altered. It is not any­one busi­ness of how you chose to rock your nat­u­ral. Wear­ing a sew-in is a pro­tec­tive style as long as you take care of your hair and scalp while wear­ing the sew in!! Do you!!

Shanice Little

I Think For Me Being A New­ly Tran­si­tion­er Its Just Try­ing To Get To Know My Hair & Find­ing A Regime That Works . Im So Crazed To Try Out Prod­ucts That I See On Youtube It Kind Of Throws Me Off.
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Stace

LOL at “that line of demar­ca­tion is a beast” I find if you apply a thick con­di­tion­er direc­tion onto the roots like how you apply a relax­er and smooth­ing it through to the rest of your hair pri­or to wash­ing your hair real­ly detan­gles tight roots and keeps that beast at bay.

Chris

O.M.G!!! I am going through every chal­lenge in this arti­cal. I’m 11 months into my tran­si­tion and oh boy..it is hard­er and requires more work then I ever imag­ined. Not to men­tion all of the extra time you have to put in com­pared to hav­ing relaxed hair. I was actu­al­ly going to relax my hair when I had reached my 1 year mark..but read­ing this arti­cale encour­ages me to con­tin­ue. Looked at my old pic­tures and supris­ing­ly my hair looks as thick as I want­ed to when start­ing my over­all hair jour­ney. Loved this!!

Tabatha

PREACH! I am going through all of that right now! Well except the just chop it part. If I did then it would be a long pix­ie cut and I think I have to round of a face for that. I’m doing this a step at a time, so I know I have a long jour­ney ahead of me.

honeybrown1976

As a new­ly nat­u­ral wom­an, after thir­ty-one months of tran­si­tion­ing, I’ve dealt with all of the­se tran­si­tion­ing aspects. But, the impor­tant thing is to have patience. Once you are patient, tran­si­tion­ing gets bet­ter.

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