PJ stands for Product Junkie. It simply describes the slippery slope of becoming so obsessed with finding "the right product" that you accumulate too many that are barely used. A lot of these may even be poorly performing products that you heard some good reviews about and thought you would try out.
There is nothing intrinsically wrong about trying out new products. The issue arises when there is no real thought behind why a product may work well for you (or not). Products with similar ingredients tend to have the same kind of effect. However, you can't argue that you NEED 5 of the same type of product!
Beware of letting your wallet feel the effect of this easy obsession. Wean yourself by restricting purchases to once a month and only buying sample sizes of new products.
You will see many of these on YouTube and hair forums. These can be quite motivating when you are new to the journey. However, not every hair product or technique is good for transitioning heads of hair.
Some heavy products just make your relaxed ends limp and stick together and others just make your new growth beg for more moisture.
Bandwagons targeted at naturals should be viewed with caution too as only 'some' of your hair is in that state. The safest bet is to watch one cycle of whatever challenge it is from the sidelines, see the results then decide about joining the next.
#3. Hair Typing
Hair typing can be useful for a natural to see what type of extra care needs to be given to her head of hair. However, a transitioner is not in the position to properly judge their hair type. Why? Simply, because you have relaxed ends affecting the way your new growth looks. You cannot truly tell your hair type until all the relaxed ends are cut off.
There are other reasons why hair typing is not as helpful on one's journey: namely curl-obsession and divisive feelings between fellow naturals.
#4. Heat Styling
Some transitioners try to straighten their new growth to help blend the textures. They may have done this before when they were waiting between relaxer treatments. When you are embarking on a natural journey, this can easily lead to heat damage: natural texture alterations with the heat.
This can be as little as a bit of a stretch to the curl/coil pattern and as bad as sections of new growth that don't revert back to a coil pattern. What's the point of transitioning to end up with hair you can't wear as an afro or other textured style.
Not every transitioner really KNOWS just what they are getting themselves into when they decide to go natural. I know I thought very hard before I decided. In fact, the year leading up to the decision is included in that time of contemplation. However, even the most prepared may find themselves caught out at the following hurdles. See if you have encountered any of these.
Your hair was never "that bad" with a relaxer
By this, I mean ladies with well-maintained relaxed or coloured hair. Your hair grew long and may even have been quite thick with the chemicals in tow. So you may not feel the need to "put up with" the extra thickness of your natural hair. You may not want to take the time to "tame the beast" each styling session.
If this is you, re-evaluate why you are transitioning and find more reasons to keep yourself motivated.
Examples include - Discovering you own texture. Being you. Free of chemicals.
Okay, we never said they would throw you a party to celebrate your decision. And we never said some people wouldn't feel like your impending transition chop is a ticking bomb above them. You need to understand their perspective too. This is how they have seen you all your life. The change will take time for them. Don't take any of their misguided and misjudged attempts at swaying you from your decision affect you too deeply.
Bottom line is, it's your hair. If you like the end result, who cares what anyone else thinks. Just don't phrase it like that out loud....lol!
"When are you getting your hair done?"
This is a phrase I heard many a time. And to consider that the lady giving me this has a TWA until her early twenties! It's funny how quickly people become used to the status-quo of relaxed hair.
Just smile and keep it moving. Now, people touch my hair and are surprised by "how soft it is" and "how versatile it is". You are the best example for them so just keep your cool and keep looking good.
This is not a license to go out with un-styled (unkempt) hair. That is never cute!
Not being down with "shrinkage"
If you are still hung up on seeing length, you may not be able to finish this transition. Or worse, you may finish it, only to return to the chemicals again in a few months.
If this is you, you may not be ready for the natural stage of your hair journey. If you still want to be natural, you may want to research using heat sparingly to show your length. By sparingly, I mean once every few months. This way, you satisfy that part of you that wants to see length.
You could also try heat-free ways to stretch your hair before styling. Check out this post on "Shrinkage" for more details. Here are videos on Curlformers and African Braiding - two styles that stretched my hair wonderfully!
Improper /Incomplete Research
Count the cost before you set sail. You need to be able to make the round trip. I printed off several pages of information on any new product or technique and gave each one a few weeks of trial before accepting or discarding them. This is what you must be prepared for in your transition.
Furthermore, your hair will change as the transition lengthens. You will find that certain products won't work as well anymore. Neither will certain techniques (my most shocking was needing to detangle in the shower).
Be ready to roll with the punches and always run back to the drawing board - hair forums- for more information whenever you hit a wall.
What have your transitioning stumblingblocks been?
I tried the other methods of cleansing my hair during my transition. I had already abandoned shampooing before the transition, however, I went back to it to try out new products as the transition grew close to an end. What a mistake! I had to really work hard to get the moisture BACK into my hair.
For me, co-washing was IT! Sure, Clay treatments are great for clarifying but I still would follow with a moisture-boosting co-wash!
More Deep Conditioning
I was downright lazy (sometimes) when it came to deep conditioning as the transition lengthened. I started with weekly deep conditions. Then fell into the bi-weekly sessions. I even remember buying a table-top steamer for the purpose of Deep Conditioning more frequently. Did it happen? Nope.
I just sacrificed deep conditioning for keeping certain hairstyles going for longer. However, in the last year, when I was wearing two-strand twists with my OWN HAIR, I really had no excuse not to do this more regularly. And still, two weeks usually went by before the sit down. And the steamer was usually out of sight.....
More Detangling Sessions
Here, I will be honest. There were times I would go for a month or two without detangling. Sure, I was wearing a protective style like braids or twists at the time. However, it just made my hair feel 'Alien' to me when it came time to detangle! I needed the regular practice to really learn how to keep the breakage to a minimum during these sessions.
Secondly, I wish I knew I could switch up my detangling method, By this, I mean that I was trying to detangle damp hair post-wash when my hair got to a stage where the majority of natural hair to relaxed ends meant shower detangling was now the right way. Again, I would have seen this sooner if I didn't put off detangling for so long.
More product swaps
That way, I would have realized sooner what became obvious later. My transitioning hair was changing. It went from having mainly relaxed and texlaxed ends to having more transitioning hair than anything else.
Obviously, the products that worked before soon became a joke to my new growth! No more silicone-filled conditioner bliss. No more light leave-in conditioners (did not make a dent in my hair). Definitely needed a lot more moisture in my products!
More heat-free styling
I initially used heat to do length checks until I realized that this practice was just breaking my ends. Once bitten, twice shy. I moved on to try protective styling. Imagine my surprise when I found that the African Braiding Method was great for stretching my hair, as are Curlformers!
I wish I had jumped on the heat-free styling much earlier!
What have your changed in your regimen during your transition?
Braids with colour
I initially started doing these with extensions and graduated to doing them on my own hair. Box braids are a wonderful style for growing out your hair before the transition chop. Twists with or without extensions allow you to have your hair in a ponytail or bun and still take care of your hair. Video tutorial here!The main thing is to ensure you moisturize your hair really well. A water-based spray is a good daily move. And wrap your hair with a satin scarf at night. Above all, rock it like Solange!
#2. Roller-sets/ Straw-sets
These are styles you can do with or without heat being applied to your hair. This will help you to blend your new growth with your relaxed ends. Roller-sets take quite a bit of practice to do by yourself but you can still pamper yourself with the occasional salon visit for these. Video tutorial!
Straw-sets give a more shrunken curly style to get your friends and family more used to you with curly, springy hair!
#3. Buns and Updos
Okay, these were my main stay for the first year of my transition. They are so easy to do and you can hide a multitude of fluffy hair days! Just spray with a water -based moisturizer, smooth back with a bit of gel and you're good to go! Video tutorial (sock-bun) here!
Long hair, short hair, curly hair, straight hair... you can achieve any look in seconds! These are the ultimate protective style. You can be very realistic with these and you are still able to see your hair every evening. Half-wigs allow you to blend your hair with the wig even better.
Remember to wear a good wig cap and keep moisturizing your hair every day! Video tutorial here!
Again, these blend your new growth with your relaxed hair and gets people used to seeing you with thicker, bigger hair! Enjoy! Video tutorial!
Big Chop Time | You've waited long enough!
Update | Almost 24 months post relaxer!
Wedding hair from early November 2011
So I am now almost 24 months post relaxer (only 3 days to go, I think).What have I been doing with myself....and my hair?Well, firstly, I'll admit I have kept it VERY SIMPLE indeed. No more crazy co-washing 5 times a week or detangling weekly for me. I only take down a small section of twists at a time and I don't think I've tackled my whole head in one styling session in a while. Shock, horror!That is what work and revision does to me. Of course, I still gave my hair time for pampering with a flat twisting session here and a cornrowing session there! My flat twists are still not quite there but hey, I'll live with them.What have I learnt?
Products I use and love:
- I've learnt that simplicity really does free your mind and hands up! Sure, it also means I can get lazy about new styles. I have been know to bust a styling groove in between mediocre hair weeks. Like what, you say. I used to switch up the front half of my kinky twists with two-strand twists last year about this time every 2 weeks. That way, it looked like a whole new set of kinky twists (but it wasn't!!!).
- I am calming down on trying new products.....only the cheap and cheerful things now.
- I'm still keeping my ends....need to dust again soon (mini-trims to keep split ends at bay). I want hip length hair pretty soon so I must keep those ends in tip top shape! No big chop yet!
- If it ain't broke....keep using it! Some products are here to stay.....some just aren't the right fit, at the moment.
Regimen:Simple: twists (chunky or medium-sized) in a bun! Moisturize with spray twice daily. Seal with oil at night and scarf+bonnet combo to bed. Protein Deep condition overnight every 2-4 weeks. Co-wash weekly. Detangle monthly. Re-fresh style weekly. And by the way, I am almost Hip Length in my longest layers! Youtube video coming soon!Stay tuned and thanks for checking in!
- Organic Hair Milk by Crown Pride Naturals: the Bomb-ay for my moisture needs. A good leave-in lotion.
- Cantu Shea Butter Conditioning Repair Cream: a cream that goes on smoothly. Won't mix with gels though...beware the white flecks!
- Shea Oil: where have you been all my life? I tried this mid-month and bought 3 more bottles. It is light and not thick so I can seal in without stickiness (O_o Castor Oil!). It also gives great shine, does not SMELL like shea butter (strong scent that!) and does not cause buildup (*cough* shea butter!).
- Moisturizing/Detangling Mist: This is my homemade spray of aloe vera juice, glycerin (or honey) and water. I could bottle this up and send to every lady for detangling or re-freshing a (non-straight) style!.
- Satin scarf and bonnet: I kid you not.....these two right here have not done me wrong!
- Cone-free conditioners - Tressemme Naturals and Suave Naturals: for co-washing and detangling. I have been known to leave some in my hair as a leave-in! I also like Rhassoul Clay monthly for clarifying (also detangles).
This is just a quick run-down of things I've found or want to try out.
That's all for now! Have you tried anything new or are you thinking of delving into new products or techniques? Do comment below and let me know!
- Xanthum gum: want to make some homemade conditioners, lotions and creams. This would be a good thickener for them. Also can be added to thicken up flaxseed gel. Found it in my local Sainbury's for around 2 pounds (money) for 119g. In the gluten-free baking aisle!
- Flaxseed gel: already made a couple of batches and loving it so far! Homemade hair gel and I can always add oils and other things to it to add to it's properties.
- Whipped butters: I ordered a hand mixer from a popular retailer only to have the London riots disrupt delivery. I hope they were ok though (delivery people!). Gonna start with shea butter (what else) but also have a tub of avocado butter to use up! Looking to Youtube and other online sources for inspiration.
- Homemade creams: for hair and body. I want to add honey as my hair really likes this.
Youtube Faves | Transitioning Ladies
More from my Youtube favorites list!
For the ladies who are showing us the way! Yay!
I found her videos after I was a year post relaxer! Cute styles and very pretty hair! Great to watch and try out! She shared her BC with us! Fierce and pretty!
I recently (in the past 2 weeks) discovered this gem! She transitioned for 1 year and has an absolutely stunning, bouncy head of hair (so jelly!). Her personality and cute smile also shine through in every video. Check her out for more!
And we love her right back! This young lady is so creative with hairstyling and within a blink of an eye, she was done transitioning and is wowing us with her versatile natural styles!
That's all for today, folks! Hope you enjoyed this one!
Transitioning 101 | Styles and Trials
When I started transitioning, I did my research. Most ladies advised styles the disguised or blended the relaxed hair with the new growth! I opted, instead to do protective styles because I'm still not comfortable wearing my hair out at work. I wore buns for the most part, then switched to kinky twists.
Recently, I rediscovered threaded styling and single braids. Now that my hair is longer (my new growth at the nape stretches to APL - just), I want to try other styles. The initial styles that others recommended were braid outs, twist outs and straw sets. I still don't quite see myself wearing these to work but I am more open to trying them out on the weekends and my days off!
So far, my braid outs still aren't quite there yet. I want to give a twist out a go this week, but I'm wearing the medium-sized twist I put in on Tuesday for a while first!
If you're currently transitioning, what styles have you tried out?
Transition Update: 18.5 months post
Single braid extensions: the front bang is twisted and swooped into the large bun at the back!
Yep, you read that right! I'm 18 and a half months post relaxer. I currently have my hair in a protective style (braids with extensions) but I am planning to take them down tomorrow, God-willing.
Click "Read More" to see more pictures and read about my regimen and styling!