AUGUST on here is hair care month. I’ll post about different types of hair care, brands I have used, non-toxic ways to care for your hair and today, the transition period TP. If you are not completely new to green hair care, then you will have heard the term transition before and may develop a respectful fear of it. If you are completely new to natural hair care, then, I will explain briefly what the TP is. Before doing this though, I want to mention a few reasons why you would change you hair care products, this will be motivation for the days of despair when you are wondering why you are putting yourself through this!
Firstly, as you may have read in my About page, the effects of ingredients in personal care products on our health is shocking and the information we have learnt from recent research is really just the tip of the iceberg. Ailments from obesity, diabetes, depression, endocrine disorders and infertility to cancer, can all be linked to toxic chemicals in products we routinely use on a daily basis. The cosmetics industry argue that the amounts used to cosmetics in negligible and could do little to our health. However this is in reference to one product. With the average women using 12-15 products a day, you can see how levels could add up. Plus, ingredients, can either be processed immediately and leave the body or build-up over time. So of the latter type, if using a product regularly, the chemical will accumulate over time affecting our wellbeing and health.
Secondly, another reason why you want to change your products are localised health issues, such as acne or alopecia. Although, dis-ease in the body comes from the inside, including acne and alopecia, what we are putting on our skin will have a huge effect on recovery, either improving or hindering it.
Thirdly, trust me, you will not regret the day you go green with your hair care. My hair has never been so thick and strong ever. I have good hair genes, but even with these, standard products were ruining my hair.
SO WHAT IS THE TRANSITION PERIOD?
When you shift from products with sulphates and silicon’s, your hair will go through a change to rebalance, this is the tradition and can last up to 6 weeks unfortunately. Of course there are all numbers of foul chemicals in shampoos, conditioners and styling products but from experience with my own hair and of others I have helped change over, sulphates and silicones, or cones as they are known as are the two that really ruin the condition of you hair.
If you have done your research on the TP then you will see the reason cited is a detox your hair goes through. This is the very simplified description. Basically, sulphates are the ingredients, that eat up all dirt, debris and oils in the hair, sudding up to “clean” the hair. Think of it like pac-man. They are so effective at their job that they remove all the oil our scalp needs. The oil or sebum your scalp produces, is not only there to naturally condition your hair but also acts as an immune barrier, protecting from fungi and bacteria. So you see its kind of essential and products which remove it, are not doing you any favours. Removing all sebum, not only will dry your hair out but creates an alkaline environment. If you are not aware of pH and why it’s so important for health, I’ll just briefly add that our skin should be slightly acid, meaning 7 or below on the pH scale (going up to 14). I will do a future post on pH for health. An overly alkaline environment not only is detrimental to your skin but increases the chances of developing any infections. Eventually, your hair follicles become damaged, receiving limited nutrients and this will slowly cause thinning hair. I’ve heard so many stories of women who have given birth and when their hair naturally shreds, the regrowth is slow or non-existent. This is because basically its like their hair follicles are strangled.
Now on to silicon’s or as I said, cones. Cones are a plastic type of chemical that coats each hair strand giving that slip type of feeling that people assume is nourished hair. Sorry to tell you, it’s not! They are usually found in conditioners but sometimes in shampoos as well. Want to know if there are cones in your conditioner? Generally ingredients that ends in -cone are a silicone. Now conditioners are what we view as part of the traditional hair care routine of shampoo and condition. Did you know that this traditional routine only came about at the beginning to mid twentieth century. The reason was the increased use of harsh shampoos. Cosmetic companies were aware that these shampoos were drying our hair and so created conditioners to counterbalance the effects. My husband always points out to me on hair ads that they state hair looks healthy and shiny. Looks being the operative word as, deep down the hair is being ruined! See silicone hides damage, giving the impression of silky hair. If you use cones and heat styling tools, you are damaging your hair but do not realise it. As you don’t even realise it, then you can’t do anything about it. Even hair masks these days contain cones, creating even more of an illusion of healthy hair. This illusion is shattered however when you stop these products and begin your transition.
WHAT TO EXPECT DURING TP
You have probably worked out that the main symptom of transitioning is greasy hair. From years of stripping your body’s natural and essential sebum, your clever system produces even more to try to balance its function. Our body is clever like that 🙂 It’s for this reason that while using standard products, many people think they have greasy hair, as the body was trying to compensation for the harsh shampoos. They then increase the frequency of washing their hair. This is not only costly but increases your exposure to harmful chemicals, further drier your hair and causing your body to again increase sebum production. Wait until after you TP to see what hair type you have, you will be surprised!! I was one of those, who assumed I had greasy, straight lank hair. In fact I have dry, porous, wavy locks!
The other side-effect of transitioning is feral hair! It will look wild, static, dull and may break very easily. This is what scares people, the breakage. They get the impression that their hair is falling out! it’s not. After years of hiding the health of your hair, removing silicon’s will expose the damage done from styling and rough care. Finally, expect the wax. You will notice days, where you hair does not feel greasy but will look as if it is. It will feel waxy like a scum is covering each strand. This is dead skin cells, build up of products or minerals from hard water and oil mixed into one! A lot of people give up at this stage as the wax can be difficult to get rid of with standard no poo/low poo routines. I have a tip for handling this situation, so read on 🙂
This is what to expect from transitioning. I really hope this hasn’t put you off, reread the first two paragraphs to motivate yourself again! It is all worth it! As awful as it all sounds, you can help the situation however. Some, when changing over to natural hair care, think that you have to live through this and everything gets better. This is not exactly true. During the average 6 weeks, deeply nourishing your hair and getting as much moisture to it as possible, locking it in with oils, will not only save the damaged hair, meaning you don’t have to hack it all, off but will shorten the TP! The shorter your TP, the quicker you will be able to flaunt your natural hair 🙂
EMBRACING THE TRANSITION PERIOD
So you have decided to go one of two ways either no poo meaning you are avoiding hair care products all together or low poo meaning you are moving to more gentle products to clean your hair. As you may have read in other posts I have tried both, see how I got on with them. Which ever routine your follow there will be a few steps you will have to take.
- Buy a boar bristle brush (BBB), and embrace your inner Rapunzel, brushing your hair 100 strokes a night. This will help distribute oils, leading to nourished hair and cleanse the scalp slightly. Some, who have thick hair, ask for tips for using the BBB. I recommend using a natural wide tooth comb or brush to detangle your hair if necessary, and then section your hair to use the BBB.
- Clarify your hair to begin with. This helps avoid and or reduce the waxy stage. If the wax still turns up, wash your hair with egg whites, no matter if you are low or no poo. Here is how I got on with egg shampoo.
- Prepare two hair masks that suit your hair and plan on doing two masks a week! This will significantly reduce hair loss or breakage. Next week, I will post the masks that helped, and still help, me!
- Plan a good cut half way through your TP. Depending on how you styled your hair before TP, or how gentle you were with it, in may be inevitable that you can not save some of the damaged hair. I was very lucky and just had to trim off an inch, but I have heard horror stories of hair having to be completely cut off. I’m not sure if these people followed a nourishing routine as I suggested, which may have helped to save their hair. I would say at the half way mark or a month into your new routine, plan a trim. Not only will the hairdresser now see what your natural hair type finally is and cut accordingly, you will feel like a new person and see the fruits of your labour with healthy, bouncy, shiny hair!
My next post will be on hair texture and how by feeling your hair, you will know exactly what type of hair care you need. Everyone needs them all, the trick is knowing which and when!
Feel free to leave any comments, questions or simply let me know how you got on! 🙂