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What are friends for...?

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Hair journeys are ongoing. When I first went natural back in 2011, I would have never thought I would have relaxed my hair six years later. And when I relaxed, I never expected to be going natural again, yet here I am. This transition, however, is very different from my first. Here’s how:

Texture expectations

When I went natural the first time, I’ll admit that I fell into the trap that many others fell into. I had some pretty problematic texture expectations, which included hoping for a looser texture. I have since developed a sincere appreciation for all textures and curl patterns, including my own. I’m much more focused on learning as much as possible about my and my daughter’s specific hair types and how to care for our hair in the best way possible.

Bathroom Scene

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Not ashamed or intimidated by transitioning hair

When I went natural the first time, I didn’t really know what to expect. Having received my first relaxer in elementary school, I had little to no memory of my hair in its natural state. As a result, I was really intimidated by the idea of managing the two different textures at once. As a result, I often sought to cover up my hair with certain “protective” styles. This time around, I am much more skilled as it relates to styling my own hair and managing both textures.

Young Woman With Afro Hair Reading Book While Sitting On Bench

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More knowledgeable about hair care

My first transition and my decision to relax again several years later taught me a lot about hair care. I am so much wiser about what it means to care for African-American. Further, I am much more concerned with having healthy hair than I am achieving a certain look, which has made the transition a lot more simple.

Young black woman on city street with earbuds

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I’m no longer caught up on length

This was a lesson that I did not learn until I went back to relaxing, but it’s a lesson that has helped me to see the most growth and has helped me to keep my hair in the healthiest state it’s ever been. The lesson is that length is not nearly as important as hair health. After committing to a regular trimming schedule a few years ago, my hair has been consistently thick and healthy. The only time that I suffered a true setback was when I fell off my trimming schedule and wasn’t giving my hair the attention that it needed after having a baby.

Portrait of millennial African woman with braided hair in the city

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Not using damaging styles

I spent a good seventy-five percent of my first transition covering my transitioning hair with sew-in weaves, which didn’t provide me with a solid foundation when my transition was finally over. I can’t say for sure whether my sew-ins were installed incorrectly or if I was just doing a poor job of caring for my hair beneath the weave, but I experienced quite a bit of damage, breakage, and thinning ends during this time.

Taking care of her crown

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I know what to expect

My natural hair isn’t a mystery to me this time around. I know exactly what to expect from my hair. I know what it looks and doesn’t like. I know which products work and which ones don’t. Further, I realize which products are necessary and which ones aren’t. During my first transition, I spent hundreds of dollars testing every new product that hit the market.

Black mother styling hair of daughter on staircase

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Different motivation

I decided to transition the first time around for a few reasons. I was fed up with my flat, overprocessed relaxed hair. I wanted my hair to be more voluminous. I had just lost my job and going natural seemed more cost-effective than going to the salon three to four times per month. Finally, I was very curious to see what my natural hair was like. The second transition was triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic; however, my motivation to stick with it after the smoke cleared has been my daughter. I want her to love her natural hair as she grows and develops an awareness of it. One of the biggest statements that I can make about the beauty of natural hair is by being natural myself.

Woman looking up at comb in her hair

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Learned from previous transitioning mistakes

I could have done a lot of things differently during my first transition. The beautiful thing about starting again so many years later is that I am able to learn from my many mistakes. From damaging protective styles to weighing my hair down with product to using excessive heat, my mistakes have taught me to take a completely different approach this time around.

Smiling black woman styling hair in bathroom mirror

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Realistic expectations around the timeline

When I decided to transition the first time, I wasn’t sure how long it would take. I had heard of some women transitioning for two and three years. I ended up transitioning for close to two years before I finally snipped my relaxed ends. However, in retrospect, I probably could have parted ways with those stringy ends after one year.

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