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"A Woman in Transition is a woman who finds herself bracing for a new phase in life. “Transition” is not just a change in routines, relationships or social status – it is a fundamental shift in a woman’s identity. It could be brought on with purposeful intent, such as voluntarily retiring from a successful career, or entering a second marriage. It could be brought on by an unexpected surprise, such as losing a spouse to a heart attack, or becoming single after a painful divorce. For a Woman in Transition, the uncertainty of the future can result in anxiety and fear and/or excitement and anticipation." Athena Chang CFP, Wealth Manager, April 2011.
I ran into a young lady who had just did the Big Chop and who was flaunting a fabulous mohawk. It was like the cut was made just for her. So, as I was giving her compliments about her hair, I noticed she was "a woman in transition" trying to embrace this new phase in her life. This young lady, with the fabulous "hawk", needed encouragement and support about her new look that it took another fifteen minutes to explain how to maintain her new look and what products she should used as well as what type of leave-in conditioner, shampoo, and styling products would be good for her hair texture and curl pattern. I could tell that she was struggling to embrace her new look, but trust me it was FABULOUS!.
So here is my ah-ha moment.
Even though there are millions of blogs on natural hair and billions of natural hair how-to videos on youtube (and the number continues to grow), I understand that there are women who are going natural everyday and transition for them can be full of anxiety, fear, excitement, and anticipation. It means more than being chemically free. Many women struggle with the following questions as they are transitioning...How will I maintain my new look? Did I make the right choice by going natural? Can I find the right products for my hair texture? And so on...
Here is my answer to all of the above.
Knowledge is the key to a successful transition phase. Learn the basics of maintaining your natural hair. Research products before you purchase them. Avoid becoming a "product junkie". Ask questions as you are on your natural hair journey. Follow natural hair blogs.
Most importantly, learn to fall in love with your natural hair and celebrate your decision; take it from me, you will be glad that you did.
Do you wear your hair natural? No lye? As many will tell you, once you make a change to go natural your hair regimen must also change. This frequently includes an adjustment to the types of products you use on your coils. A number of your old stand-bys may no longer lend you the same results on your kinks as they did on your straight hair.
Product junkies will agree -- you can spend hundreds of dollars testing out the numerous products available on the market, many of which are supposedly intended for natural hair use. However, breaking the bank is really not necessary for a healthy, strong and shiny natural. You already have key ingredients in your own kitchen and bathroom!
Creating your own hair recipes not only saves money, but allows for a more intimate relationship with your hair -- you can gain a much better insight as to what your hair craves, prefers, or rejects with your at-home experiments.
Get creative! There are a few simple rules to follow to find your perfect concoctions:
Don't mix too many things at once. Start out with simple recipes, say, mixing one main ingredient and adding a small amount of another. It's much easier to determine what worked and what didn't when your ingredients list is limited.
Create two-ingredient mixes and try them until you find a mix that works well on your hair. If it's a "perfect" mix, continue using it! If it's a "pretty good" mix, retry the recipe with the same main ingredient then alter the secondary ingredient until you reach perfection. You may find you need to reverse the amounts used, making the main ingredient the secondary ingredient.
If there is one particular ingredient you find most always works well on your hair, make it a staple for your hair recipes, adding it as a standard part of all your recipes.
Alter the way you apply the mixes to your hair. Try dousing your hair with your Super Yogurt Surprise while your hair is drenching wet in the shower. Does it work well this way? Try another time by making it a bit more liquidy and spritz it on your dried hair with a spray bottle. Perhaps your hair responds better to this application.
For ingredients, a general rule of thumb is if it's ok to ingest, it's probably ok to apply to your hair as well. Pureed fruit, honey, apple cider vinegar and many more items are great additions to homemade hair recipes.
Take note of what works for you and how it worked. Some recipes may be better for clarifying while others make for great deep conditioners.
Search and compare! If you're a little timid about applying egg whites to your hair, make use of resources available to you before doing so. Search the Internet for your particular ingredients. You just may find others who have tried the same type of recipe and enjoyed success or experienced a nightmare.
Go beyond your kitchen! Many cities have well-stocked health food and natural stores with a huge selection of ingredients to boost your hair recipes. Experiment with essential oils (a few drops go a long way!), xanthum gum (a thickener, also known as xanthan), as well as conditioners and leave-ins you won't likely find at department stores and drug stores.
Remember, a recipe failure is a good thing. It lets you know what your hair simply does not respond to well. The worst likely thing that can happen with the use of your homemade products is the need to wash your hair again, so get creative!
Elle Paris is the owner of My Natural, which provides no-nonsense user reviews for hundreds of products for natural hair care.