Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Transitioning Tale: Deirdra's Story

Last year, a lovely diva named Deirdra submitted her transitioning tale to Protecting Your Crown & Glory. Unfortunately, I was too pregnant and sick to post her story in a timely fashion, but wish to share the details of her hair journey with you today. Please keep in mind that these responses were given when Deirdra was just one month into her transition.
PYCAG: How long were you relaxed?
Deirdre: I was relaxed from 1984/1985-2006, then again from May 2007-October 2009. The first time around my mother gave me a relaxer, as she claims my hair was so thick and in between textures (allegedly wavy, not straight or curly) that it was very hard to maintain. The relaxer cut down on time spent caring for my hair on a daily basis. The second time I relaxed, it was out of laziness on my part. I'd recently found out that I was pregnant, and my hair had grown out. I didn't know all that I know now about co-washing, detangling, etc. Every time I touched it, it became a matted mess and at the time, I didn't have the energy or patience to struggle with it.

PYCAG: What inspired you to transition?
Deirdre: I first transitioned/chopped in 2006 because I wanted a change. I also wanted to find out if my natural hair was really as unruly and unmanageable as my mom claimed. Third, I'd found out that I could donate my hair to Locks of Love, so that made the chop even easier. I was too surprised to find out post-cut and shampoo that my unruly hair was actually very, very curly, which went against everything I'd ever been told.

The second time transitioning came after noticing some thinning in my edges, excessive shedding, that my scalp wasn't tolerating the perm chemicals (I'd had burns and scabs in my scalp even after the perm stayed on only a few minutes), and that even the marcel curling irons were too much (and who likes the smell of burning hair that they produce?). I decided that I wanted a head of healthy hair and that I would stop doing things to my scalp and hair that I knew were damaging. I also desired to be more authentically me, which meant not putting chemicals in my hair to make it appear to be different than it truly is.

PYCAG: Did you opt to slowly transition or do the BC?
Deirdre: My first time going natural, I grew out my perm for 3-6 months, then big chopped. I didn't know then about all of the different hairstyles I could use to cover the line of demarcation if I transitioned long-term, so I ended up cutting the relaxed hair off in an effort to have a uniform hair-do when the two different textures of hair became difficult to style.

As for the second time around, I fully intended to transition long term. I read up on the transitioning styles, stumbled across this website, and started air drying my hair after shampooing sometimes in an attempt to treat all my hair like natural hair. But then, for whatever reason, on my birthday, I decided to have some of my hair cut off as a baby step towards going natural. I planned to have it cut into a cute bob. The cut ended up being much shorter than I'd planned. After about two weeks of flat-ironing and bumping the ends, I realized that all the heat styling I was doing was counter-productive. After dreaming one night about shampooing my own freshly big-chopped hair, and feeling the water on my scalp with barely any hair to get in its way, the next day after work, I headed for the first place that had a free stylist (which ended up being a SuperCuts), and let a Russian chick (who initially was hesitant to cut it as low as I wanted) chop it all off. I left with a very tiny afro. That first shampoo post-big chop was just as great as I dreamed it would be.

PYCAG: How are you caring for your hair?
Deirdre: I blew my hair out twice shortly after having it cut just to see how long it was and if there were other ways I could style it. I wash with shampoo once every week or a week and a half to remove any buildup from the various products I use daily. Sometimes I treat my scalp prior to shampooing, or any other time I feel like it might need some extra direct moisture and nourishment. Depending on the weather, I co-wash (usually 1-3x a week), moisturize with either a leave-in, oil, or buttercreme, and go about my business. If I plan to 'fro it, I co-wash, detangle in the shower with either my shower comb or Denman brush, gently/barely pat dry with a towel, and fingercomb. Once dry, I may comb with a wide toothed comb or go through my hair in sections with my Denman again. Sometimes I clip back parts of the front into flat twists or just put a small barrette in it. Since it is getting colder some days here, I've been trying to wear it in my afro more so as not to catch a cold from walking around with a wet head.

PYCAG: What products are you currently using?
Deirdre: Nexxus Therappe Moisturizing Shampoo & Humectress Conditioner and/or Keraphix Treatment. I have used these two Nexxus products for most of my life, and they seem to work just fine with my hair in its natural state. The Therappe shampoo is cleansing enough without stripping my hair, and the Humectress is great for softening and detangling. The Keraphix I use sporadically. It's a Keratin strengthening treatment, and I use it primarily on my edges and ends.

I use the Hello Hydration for co-washing and leave in purposes. As for scalp Treatments, I use EVOO and Olde Jamaican Castor Oil Pomade. I oil my scalp with one of these two products when it is itchy, feels dry, or when I want to give it a little extra lovin' care prior to my weekly shampoo.

For daily Moisture and or styling, I use Miss Jessie's Baby Buttercreme & Curly Buttercreme (usually with spritzed water, weather permitting). Other products I have and use sporadically are Miss Jessie's Curly Pudding, Jane Carter Solutions Condition and Sculpt (also for wash & go, leaves my hair feeling hard), good old Dax pomade (for my 'fro), and Namaste ORS Olive Oil Lotion (for sometimes freshening up curls the next day after a wash/co-wash).

PYCAG: What are your hair care goals?
Deirdre: My main hair care goals are to stay away from the creamy crack and use direct heat styling methods sparingly. I also want to have a healthy scalp, and in turn, healthy hair. I plan to grow my hair back to its normal length (mid back length), and keep it in its natural state. I also hope to learn to style my hair in a variety of ways that do not put tension on my hair or scalp.

PYCAG: Is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
Deirdre: Within a month and a half's time of caring for my hair, I've noticed drastic improvements in the form of decreased shedding, decreased sensitivity, and hair that seems to be growing like a weed. I often find myself playing with my own curls, pulling them straight and letting them spring back into little spirals. I'm truly enjoying rediscovering my own hair. I'm glad I'm natural again.

Thank you, Deirdra, for sharing your story with PYCAG. We hope your hair has continued to flourish, and is naturally fabulous today!

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