5 Things to Know When Transitioning to Natural Hair

So you’ve decided to give up the creamy crack huh? Or you’re thinking about making the transition. Either way, we’ve got some internal and external things to think about before you transition to natural hair.

  1. Your Motivation

It’s important to know your motivation into transitioning because it will help you keep going if the going gets tough. Just as naturals don’t want to be pressured into relaxing their hair, if you’re relaxed, you shouldn’t be pressured to go natural - or you won’t last.

Sure, there are a lot of health benefits from stepping away from those particular chemicals but mentally prepare yourself for your new look. Some people underestimate the shock a different look can bring about and the temporary blow to self-esteem that can happen. And in some cases women go back to the relaxer and write off being natural permanently because of it. Transition because YOU want to.

  1. Get a Support Group

Thank God for social media because if you don’t have any natural friends you can make plenty online! It could take some time to create a new hair regimen, so having friends that can give you some tips along the way never hurts! The groups can direct you to the best salons, apps for natural hair care, products and styles when you’re stuck. You don’t have to learn it all alone - most people probably don’t.

  1. It’s Still Hair

There are some basic principles in hair care that apply no matter your texture. Keep your scalp clean and keep your strands moisturised. That does not change at any point during your transition. You don’t need “special” products for natural hair because again, it’s still hair.

  1. Natural Hair is More Delicate

Afros have always had a look of strength about them, probably because of how big they can get, but it’s actually the most delicate hair type. Don’t try to rush through styling because it can cause breakage. Find a detangling method that works for you and products that can give your hair the moisture it needs, because it will most likely need a lot.

  1. Line of Demarcation

The line of demarcation is where your transition takes place. It’s where your relaxed hair stops and your natural hair begins. Take care to not stress your hair, especially at that point. Because of the change in texture, your hair is most likely to break off at that point. Protective styling will help you avoid manipulating your hair while you get ready to cut your relaxed ends off.

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Types of Exfoliators

Exfoliating is basically removing dead skin cells from your body. It helps your skin look its healthiest and is also a great way to prep your skin for moisturizers. Exfoliating regularly can help your skin prevent pimples and blackheads by unblocking pores. But there is more than one way to achieve these benefits. Here are two types of exfoliants to get the glow back into your skin:

Chemical Exfoliants

Chemical exfoliants work by dissolving dead skin cells and the oils and dirt that bind them to your skin.

There are two types of chemical exfoliants; alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA), and beta-hydroxy acids (BHA):

  • AHAs are small molecules that penetrate the upper layer of your skin and help dissolve dead skin cells. They also promote cell renewal, helping your skin repair itself faster. They can make your skin sensitive, so sun-protection after using AHAs is a good idea.
  • BHA does the same thing as AHA, but it can also penetrate into your pores! This means BHA treatments can be a great choice for people with oily or breakout prone skin because they are often symptoms of clogged pores. BHAs can also be anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and anti-irritant, which makes it especially good for people with acne.

Physical Exfoliants

When people think of exfoliating, they’re most likely thinking of physical exfoliants, also known as mechanical exfoliants. These are often scrubs made from sugar, salt, oatmeal (you name it), microbead face washes (because not all exfoliants are DIYs). But the reality is, a physical exfoliant is anything that uses something physical to remove your dead skin. This includes loofahs, brushes and washcloths!

However, unlike chemical exfoliants, physical exfoliants only tackle the skin on the surface. They don’t do deeper into your skin like chemical exfoliants do.

But while physical exfoliants are good for your skin, not all of them are good for the environment. The microbeads in commercial scrubs are not easily biodegraded.

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3 Square Meals For Healthier Skin

Whenever I have a personal issue to deal with—be it psychological, physical, internal or external—my first question is always, “How can I eat my way out of this?”
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The Ultimate Exfoliation Regimen

As someone who has chronically itchy skin, exfoliation is my absolute favorite part of my skincare routine. If you’re doing it right, exfoliating brightens, moisturizes and strengthens skin, helps get rid of blemishes, and it feels AMAZING. If you’re using products that aren’t right for your skin, or over-exfoliating (yes, unfortunately there is such a thing), then please allow me to drop some exfoliation knowledge that will expose you to all the wonderful benefits of this deep-cleaning skincare necessity.

Why exfoliate?

Your body is constantly producing skin cells in the basal layer of the epidermis. As the cells on the outermost layer dry up and eventually die, they are replaced by these new cells from the basal. The entire process takes about 3 to 4 weeks. 

Exfoliating helps to remove the dead skin from the surface by either scrubbing or chemically weakening the proteins that hold them in place. The newly exposed skin is firmer and brighter, while dead skin that doesn’t get sloughed off will leave you with a dull, rough looking complexion.

How often should I exfoliate?

This depends on your age, skin type, and method of exfoliation (which I’ll get to in the next section). For most gentle facial exfoliates, dermatologists recommend 1-2 times per week. 

The idea is to help along the natural cycle of shedding dead skin, without damaging or irritating the new, or removing the natural protective layer of oils on the outside of your skin. As we age, the cycle of skin renewal slows down, so your use of exfoliates may need to as well. If you experience any redness or irritation, you should stop exfoliating for a few days, and either change your product or reduce your routine to once every 1-2 weeks.

What exfoliating techniques and products should I be using?

The myriad exfoliating options can be broken down into two categories: chemical and friction based. Chemical exfoliates work on weakening the bonds that hold the dead skin cells onto the new, while friction based methods literally scrub off the dead cells to expose the fresh skin underneath.

One of the big up-and-comers on the exfoliating scene is dry-brushing. This is a great friction-based technique for even sensitive skin, as it’s (you guessed it!) performed on dry skin. Using a dry brush in small, gentle circular motions over your whole body before showering helps brighten the skin, improve circulation, and reduce cellulite.

Other than that, most of your exfoliating probably takes place in the shower (or at least bent over the bathroom sink). Look for products that have a moisturizing component in addition to an exfoliating one to instantly sooth the newly exposed skin. The best products will contain one or more of the following:

Salt – Salt is great for dry skin because the trace minerals help seal in moisture while stimulating new cell growth. It’s also found to be helpful in treating psoriasis and eczema (the latter of which I can personally attest to!)

Sugar – The glycolic acid in sugar boosts new skin cell production while breaking down the protein that keeps the dead cells hanging on.

Oatmeal – Crushed oatmeal is a common exfoliating ingredient that’s also a natural anti-inflammatory, making it perfect for sensitive skin.

Papaya – Papaya produces an enzyme called papain that naturally dissolves dead skin cells and reduces the appearance of wrinkles and age spots.

Coffee – Coffee is great for exfoliating, moisturizing and toning skin, and the caffeine will firm and tighten. True Moringa pairs with Vega Coffee to make an incredible Rejuvenating Body Polish that’s great for all skin types

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The Difference Between Sealing Oils and Moisturizing Oils

Our skin naturally produces oils (sebum) to moisturize and protect our skin and hair but sometimes we need to give our skin a little assistance by adding a little more oil. Using oils has the incredible ability to both moisturize and help keep moisture in our skin and hair. The differences in those oils are whether your oil moisturizes or seals. In skin care these are also known as occlusive (sealants) agents and emollients (moisturizers). It’s a subtle difference, but hear us out.

Moisturizing Oils

Plant oils are similar to the type of oils your skin produces naturally and can be applied to your skin without clogging your pores. When choosing what oils you use to moisturize, take note of its comedogenic rating. The lower the number, the most likely it won’t clog your pores.

Moisturizing oils, especially when compared to lotions, can be more effective. Lotions are typically oils emulsified in water with additional ingredients added to cater to particular market tastes. The oils in lotions are sometimes not comedogenic, for example mineral oils. Mineral oils can cause blocked pores and acne in some people.

By using oil instead of lotion to moisturize, you take the key ingredient that matters the most and apply it directly to your skin - oil. And you get to choose ones that will get you the skin you want.

Sealing Oils

When moisturizing hair, not all oils can penetrate the hair shaft. Those oils sit on top of your hair and lock in moisture, but don’t add any moisture. What oils are able to penetrate your hair shaft varies from person to person. These are sealants.

For skin, if your skin is dry, using occlusive oils will not help. Because sealants (occlusive oils) don’t add moisture to your skin. If your skin is dry you’re not helping it by trapping in moisture - there’s not much moisture to trap in the first place! Make sure your before you seal you have properly moisturized.

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