Top 3 Most Controversial Ways of Transitioning to Natural Hair

Top 3 Most Controversial Ways of Transitioning to Natural Hair

 Transitioning to natural hair is one of the biggest journeys of your life. After years, decades, or even an entire life spent relaxing or ‘heat training‘ your hair, going natural seems scary. That’s why you need so much support.

Unfortunately, there are times when the natural hair community turns on you. The commonly accepted natural hair transition involves either the Big Chop or by slowly growing out the relaxed ends by protective styling.

There are three other options…

If you’ve chosen, or are considering, these controversial methods, expect some backlash. Expect some criticism when transitioning from relaxer to natural hair via any of the following methods.

Method 1: Swap Relaxers for Hair Extensions

What are hair extensions?

Hair Extensions involve adding real or synthetic hair to your own. Real hair comes from various countries including India and Cambodia. There are women who grow their hair to extraordinary lengths for the sole purpose of selling it.

There are several kinds of hair extensions ranging from braids to weave. Other popular extensions include lace fronts, marley twists, wigs and hair pieces.

How do hair extensions affect our hair?

Different hair extensions affect our hair in different ways. Some are braided into our hair, so they cling to it tightly. Hair extensions can be glued onto hair. Other hair extensions like wigs just sit on top of the hair, just like a hat or cap would.

Why would someone use hair extensions as a natural hair transition method?

Relaxed hair is a completely different texture from natural hair. As your hair grows out, your two different textures become visible. The point where the two textures meet in the hair strand is called the “line of demarcation”.

The line of demarcation is fragile due to the different structures of relaxed and natural hair. Relaxed hair’s structure has been permanently weakened by the chemical process. Natural hair’s structure is stronger because it’s not been altered. They’re so different that they clash.

So how does wearing weave, lace fronts, etc help?

Short periods between relaxer touch-ups is fine. I used to relax my hair every 3-4 months and it grew to waist length. However, long periods between touch-ups mean the line of demarcation is there for longer. The longer it’s there, the greater chance of it breaking.

transitioning to natural hair model
Freestylers/pixabay.com

The line of demarcation is fragile. If you want to increase the time between touch-ups or start transitioning to natural hair, extensions like wigs and weave can help. They sit on your hair and cover it. By protecting it from constant manipulation, you give the line of demarcation a chance to be still. Less manipulation means less chance of your relaxed hair breaking off.

The natural hair community doesn’t want you transitioning to natural hair this way because…

Many people use hair extensions when transitioning to natural hair to prevent damage. Unfortunately not everyone succeeds at this. Their hair breaks off. Some people lose not only the relaxed ends but the natural roots too.

How can hair extensions break hair instead of protecting it?

The hair might be too tight.

If there’s too much tension, the relaxed and natural hair will be pulled from the root. It’s gradual process people usually won’t notice until it’s too late. By then, they have receding hair lines and possibly male pattern baldness.

The hair might cause allergic reactions.

Certain people might have an allergic reaction to hair glue. Allergic reactions can cause a range of symptoms from hair shedding to death. Always take allergic reactions seriously!

The hair might cause neglect.

Remember the saying, “Out of sight, out of mind”? Weave and lace fronts make it easy to neglect your real hair underneath. Some people make sure their hair extensions look presentable, and then walk out the door. They forget their real hair, so it ends up tangled or matted, crispy dry and full of shed hair.

Why else is wearing extensions a controversial transition method?

Some people believe that wearing extra hair means you don’t like your own. Most extensions aren’t afro or curly textured, so people might assume you prefer straight or wavy hair over your true texture.

Wearing afro or curly hair extensions doesn’t give you a pass either. People might assume it’s your real hair. Don’t pretend it is. Hair icons have been accused of lying about their long afro hair being real.



Method 2: Switch Relaxers for a Flat Iron, Hair Dryer or Hot Comb

I know what a hair dryer is. What is a hot comb?

A hot comb is a comb with metal teeth. In the old days, we used to heat the comb on the stove. After a minute or so, we tested it on a paper towel to see if it left a burn mark. The burnt paper meant the comb needed to cool down a bit before use. Modern day hot combs are electronic. You just plug them in and wait until they’re ready for use.

And what is a flat iron?

A flat iron is a heat styling tool mostly used for straightening hair. It can also be used to curl hair. The flat iron consists of two plates that reach very high temperatures e.g. 450 degrees. Pressing the hair between the two plates applies heat that changes the texture.

How do flat irons, hair dryers and hot combs affect our hair?

Heat manipulates hair texture by “setting hair” until it either doesn’t shrink up when drying, or stretches out into a looser texture. Flat irons reach high temperatures therefore it may completely straighten hair and make it look less dense.

Blow dryers and hot combs reach lower temperatures, especially if you hold the hair dryer further away from your hair. Hair dryers stretch hair, making it look longer and more dense.

Why do naturals use heat styling tools as a transition method?

Heat blends relaxed and natural hair.

Relaxed hair is straight. Afro hair is coily, kinky or curly. On the hair texture spectrum, afro looks completely different from straight. That’s why choosing the right hair styles takes some effort.

Some people find it easier to stretch or straighten their natural hair so it blends with the relaxed ends. This means they can treat all the hair the same from root to ends.

Heat helps with detangling natural hair.

Coily and kinky hair tends to catch on itself. The hair strands love to hug each other. Unfortunately, there are times when they hug and never let go. Then you have to cut them apart, losing a few hairs in the process.

Heat stretches or straightens the hair, making it less likely to tangle. Detangling is quicker because the hair strands are hanging down instead of drawing up.

Heat eases the long relaxed hair to short natural hair transition.

A lot of people avoid transitioning to natural hair with the big chop because they don’t want short hair. Then they realise their natural hair texture is extremely coily, so it looks a lot shorter than it really is.

Some women feel self-conscious having short hair. Heat stretching helps them maintain longer lengths even if their hair appears to be much shorter like most coily hair.

The natural hair community doesn’t want you transitioning to natural hair this way because…

Moderate heat causes permanent damage to hair.

Blow drying can cause two permanent changes to hair: hair strand damage and hair colour changes. According to the U.S. Library of Medicine, hair drying with high heat damages the outside layer of the hair strand. Over time, damaging the outside layer leaves the inner layer more exposed and susceptible to damage.

High heat causes permanent changes to hair texture.

Heat damage doesn’t just mean burnt hair. Heat damage also means your hair texture has changed and it’s never going back. Flat ironing hair at the maximum setting changes the structure of each hair strand like a relaxer would. The change can happen right away, or gradually over time.

The brief video below shows MyThriftedCloset, a popular youtuber with heat damage. You can see the straight pieces at her ends look completely different from the curlier roots.

Stretched or straightened hair isn’t natural.

The definition of natural varies. Some naturals think being natural means your hair is in its original texture and colour — no chemical changes at all. Others believe natural hair can be dyed as long as the texture is the same.

Stretched or straightened hair is accepted as natural by some but not by others. Heat styled hair isn’t accepted as natural by some people because the texture has changed. It’s accepted by others because the texture change isn’t permanent.



Method 3: Replace Relaxers with Texturizers or Texlaxers

What is a texturizer (also spelt texturiser)?

A texturizer (also spelt texturiser) is a hair product similar to a relaxer. It breaks down the bonds in hair strands to permanently alter their texture. Unlike relaxers, texturizers don’t straighten hair. They only loosen coils, kinks and curls.

What is a texlaxer?

Texlaxing hair involves using a relaxer to loosen your hair texture. To texlax, leave the relaxer on for a very short period of time. Let’s say you usually relax your hair for twenty minutes. To texlax, you could leave the relaxer on for only five minutes. The texlax results are similar to texturizing.

What does a texturizer or texlax do to our hair?

They both loosen the hair texture. For example, texturizing tight coily hair results in looser coils. If you overprocess, the hair might end up wavy.

Why would naturals texturize or texlax as a transition method?

It’s a natural hair trial.

I was 12 when my hair was relaxed, so I’ve always known I have afro hair. I didn’t realise it was coily, low porosity, etc, but I knew it was afro textured. This meant I knew what to expect when I started transitioning to natural hair.

Sadly, there are women whose hair was relaxed when they were very young. They grow up never knowing what their real texture is. When they go natural, they’re shocked by the complete difference in texture. It can be overwhelming for some. By texlaxing before going natural, you have the chance to experience a taste of being natural without going all the way just yet.

There’s a chance to change their mind.

If you go natural via a big chop, your natural hair transition is quick. But what if you change your mind? What if you want relaxed, dyed, etc hair again? You have to grow the hair back. You’re starting all over again.

By texturizing, you have the chance to change your mind. You haven’t cut off or trimmed away any hair. A texlax is underprocessed hair. It’s risky, but you could always reapply the relaxer to the texlaxed section and let it process for a short period of time. Don’t overprocess or you risk hair breakage.

Baby steps lead to progress.

Changing your life is scary, especially when you change a billion things at the same time. That’s why successful people recommend making one change at a time.

Usually people who go natural make several changes at once. They’ll ditch their current hair products, revamp their hair care regimen, cut their hair or start trimming it off, find new hair styles, splurge on hair accessories, choose protein treatments, test deep conditioners, try new shampoo or stop shampooing altogether! No wonder people feel overwhelmed!

Texlaxing involves one change: leave the relaxer on for less time. Simple change. That’s it. Texturizing also involves one change: buy a texturizer instead of a relaxer. That’s it. Another simple change. One change at a time leads to long-term success.

The natural hair community doesn’t want you transitioning to natural hair this way because…

You still aren’t natural.

Texturized hair is NOT natural, no matter how hard some texturized heads claim it is. Once a chemical (relaxer, texturiser, hair dye, etc) changes your hair permanently, you’re no longer natural because the texture has permanently changed. It might look and act similar to your natural hair, but it’s not the same.

You might straighten your hair.

Texturizing and texlaxing require trial and error. You must figure out how long it takes to loosen your texture without straightening it. If you underprocess the hair, the texturizer won’t make a difference. If you overprocess the hair, you’ll end up relaxing it straight.

You might damage your hair.

Some people grow long relaxed hair to bra strap length and beyond. Others get to waist or even tail bone length. Their hair thrives with or without a relaxer.

texturized hair after texlaxing process
Senlay/pixabay.com

For others, the relaxer experience is painful: burning, receding hair lines, hair thinning, hair breakage, bald patches and scabs. If your hair can’t handle the chemicals in a relaxer, likely it won’t handle the similar chemicals in a texturizer either. Stopping chemicals would be a healthier option.

You are delaying the inevitable.

Texturized hair allows you to adjust to your natural texture until you’re ready to go natural, but you’ll still have to cut the texturized hair off to be natural. All the texturized hair you’re nurturing will be chopped off someday. Some naturals think, “Why not just cut it all off now?” You aren’t truly transitioning to natural hair until the texturized hair is gone.

It’s more expensive than natural hair.

Unless you texturize or texlax yourself, you’ll still need to visit a hair stylist. Depending on where you live, the cost could be high. Some naturals believe the expense isn’t worth it. They’d rather just cut or trim the relaxed hair off instead of spending money on texturized hair touch-ups.

What are the top 3 most controversial ways of transitioning to natural hair?

  1. Hair Extensions. Use them to protect your hair during the natural hair transition.
  2. Heat Styling Tools. Stretch or straighten your hair to ease transitioning from relaxer to natural hair.
  3. Texturize or texlax. Underprocess your hair to gradually move from straight to afro hair over time.

Transitioning to natural hair is your personal journey. It’s your hair. Your rules. Your happiness. Make the natural hair transition however you like. It’s your life. I’m just warning you that your transition method might get criticism. Try not to let others influence your choice. Here’s more information on transitioning from relaxer to natural hair with the big chop and without it.