When growing out of your relaxer, it is important that you manage your expectations, as this process takes patience and diligence. Everyone’s experience will be different, but we promise that we will walk alongside you in this journey.
In the transitioning phase, you have two very simple choices: You can grow out your relaxed hair little by little, getting regular trims until all of your relaxed ends have been removed, or you can do the BIG CHOP. Should you decide to not let go of your length all at once, weekly and bi-weekly appointments, paired with treatments are highly recommended to minimize breakage during your growing out phase.
The average time to depart from your relaxed hair is at least one full year, depending on the condition of your hair upon initial consultation. Keep in mind that you may experience shedding, due to over-processed hair. Trims are recommended every 6-8 weeks, and also suggested hair care products for home use are also very important for the success of your transition.
We are dedicated to helping you achieve healthy, natural hair!
F.A.Q’s About Going Natural
Q: Do I have to cut my hair to go natural?
A: Not at all! Many of our clients choose to transition out of their relaxer. There are many methods used for this. Those methods include: pressing your regrowth, Set styles (Spiral Sets, Roller sets,Twists sets, Twist outs) and many other transitioning techniques.
Q: How long does it take to transition to natural?
A: The transitioning process depends on the person. Some people grow their hair out to a certain length, while other cut the relaxer off sooner. On average most people transition for 6 months to 2 years.
Q: What is a “Big Chop”?
A: “Big Chop” is a term used when a person decides to cut (or chop) off their remaining relaxer. Many call it a rebirth.
Q: What kind of styles can I wear while transitioning?
A: Depending on where you are in your transition you have many options. Styling options range from pressing to sets. Many people go with spiral sets to blend the natural and relaxed textures.
Q: How often should I wash my hair?
A: Depending on the condition of your scalp, you should wash your hair every one to two weeks.
Q: What is my natural curl pattern?
A: Your curl pattern is determined by texture, density, hair type, softness/coarseness and many other factors. Most natural hair contains 2 to 3 different textures. We do not follow the numbers and letter system (3b,4a, etc.) as it does not explain hair types and textures correctly. When discussing texture we prefer to explain your hair in a personalized manner.
Q: What products do you recommend?
A: In order to find the correct products for your hair type we recommend that you come in for a free consultation. This way you will receive a true assessment of your hair. You should stay away from products that contain mineral oil and petroleum in them. Both can be very drying to the hair.
Q: How will I maintain my hair at home?
A: Depending on your style, maintenance is usually minimal. We recommend natural oils(i.e. coconut, olive, jojoba) for maintaining moisture. Most styles are easily kept with the use of a satin or silk bonnet at night.
Q: What should I use for moisture?
A: Natural oils are great for adding and maintaining moisture. Light oils (i.e. grape seed, almond,etc.) are good for finer hair. Coconut, olive and castor oils are better for coarse, thick hair.
Q: What natural styles are best for working out?
A: Many of our clients choose sets and twist styles for working out. These styles work well when sweat is introduced to the hair. Flat twist, two strand twist, spiral and roller sets tend to yield great results.
Q: Are treatments necessary?
A: Yes! Natural hair thrives on moisture. Weekly deep conditioning treatments help add much needed moisture. Protein treatments, which should only be done every 6-8 weeks, are imperative to strengthening natural hair. We also offer custom steam treatments, hot oil treatments and hair moisture masks.
Q: How often should I get a trim?
A: Trimming is recommended every 6 to 8 weeks. In some cases as soon as 4 weeks and as long as 10 weeks. Trimming is a vital part of transitioning and maintaining natural hair.
Q. What are the common causes of hair loss?
A. Hair loss, also known as alopecia, can be divided into two major categories. The first category of hair loss is temporary.
Medical causes of temporary hair loss can include:
- Changes in hormone levels caused by birth control, pregnancy or menopause
- Anemia or low iron
- Thyroid conditions
- Severe infection
- Crash dieting
- Seborrhea (seen as excessive flaking or dandruff of the scalp)
- Alopecia areata (a disorder where the immune system attacks hair follicles)
- Certain ways of styling and caring for your hair
Most non-scarring hair loss is reversible if the underlying problem is addressed and treated appropriately.
The second major category of hair loss is permanent.
Causes of permanent hair loss can include:
- Genetic and/or hormonal predisposition called androgenetic alopecia (female pattern baldness)
- Systemic diseases such a lupus, lichen planus, and sarcoidosis
- Browlifts and facelifts
- Certain styling techniques like tight braids, ponytails, updo’s, tight buns or tract weaves
- Blow drying, excessive combing or brushing, use of curling irons or chemical relaxers or straighteners can also damage hair follicles
Long term tension on hair will eventually lead to breakage on the sides of hair strands. Also be aware that tight ponytails on infants or young children over time can lead to damage of the hair follicles. Permanent hair loss is caused by irreversible damage to the hair follicle.
Q.Commercials and advertisements seem to warn us that our hair is constantly being damaged. What degree of damage is irreversible?
A. Hair is not like grass. If the follicles are permanently destroyed, they typically do not regenerate. Harsh ingredients found in styling gels and sprays, as well as chemicals in treatments such as colorants, straighteners and perms can potentially damage the hair follicle and promote hair loss. Abrasive ingredients like sulfates and sodium contained in thick gels and strong sprays may dry out and damage hair, prompting it to break when heat and styling tools are used.
Follicular Degeneration Syndrome (centroparietal scarring alopecia) commonly seen in the crown of black women is not clearly understood. Once thought to be caused by overuse of hot combs, the syndrome was discovered in patients who had never pressed their hair. One theory that persists is that constant damage to the hair and scalp over time may eventually lead to thinning, scarring and permanent hair loss in certain ethnic groups predisposed to hair loss.
Q. If one of your patients experiences an inordinate amount of shedding and breakage, or notices bald spots, what type of professional help should he or she seek?
A. Because the causes of hair losses can be tricky to diagnose, I would recommend an initial visit to a dermatologist. A thorough history will be obtained to rule out medical conditions that could contribute to hair loss, like recent surgery, metabolic diseases such as hypothyroidism, anemia, or underlying illnesses like ringworm, or lupus. Your dermatologist will ask numerous questions about how you normally treat your hair and she might suggest a biopsy of a particularly affected area.
Q. Provided the damage isn’t permanent, what can men and women do to alleviate hair loss?
A. Prevention is the number one key for avoiding hair loss. Choose a stylist who emphasizes healthy hair over the latest fad or style. Eat a balanced and nutritious diet rich in antioxidants (leafy green vegetables like bok choy, spinach, arugula, and broccoli), drink milk and eat other foods that are rich in calcium.
Many women who straighten or chemically relax their hair may have several textures of hair on the scalp. A good stylist will recognize this and may opt to relax different areas of the scalp on different schedules. Insist that solutions used for straighteners or perms are thoroughly rinsed. Also consider opting to sit under the dryer for a longer duration at a lower heat setting, avoid excessive blow drying, curling with an iron or “bumping edges.” Remember that as we age, we lose density in our hair.
To give your hair periodic breaks, regularly try to go a whole day without combing or manipulating the hair. Instead use the fingers or loose clips to style for the day.
Q. Is the incidence of hair loss on the rise, specifically among black women?
A. Yes and for a variety of reasons. The current trend of using straighteners and perms at an early age (some as early at 5-6 years old) is placing many young women in jeopardy for future hair loss. Also, our culture’s obsession with tract, weave/’quick’ weave, sew or glue in, and extensions can place our healthy hair at great risk for breakage, especially during application and removal.
Remember: Good hair is healthy hair.
Board-certified dermatologist Peggy Fuller, M.D.
is the founder and director of Esthetics Center for Dermatology.