Long gone are the days when women only went natural to wear their hair in natural styles like braid-outs, bantu-knots, afros, or the wash and go look. I remember when I tried to go natural years ago and ran into some militant naturals who frowned upon my desire to transition to natural and still wear my hair straight. I remember feeling like I wouldn’t be a “true natural”, so I continued to get texturizers, but stretched them out to every 4 months since I was going to a Dominican salon every two weeks for a blowout anyway. This worked really well for me, and I never had any issues with breakage or thin edges.
One day as I was getting close to the 4 month mark, I told my stylist I would be ready for a texturizer in two weeks...she looked at me and said “Jenny, why don’t you just stop getting texturizers and go natural?” As I thought for a second, the only reason I didn’t want to go natural was because I had no desire to wear my hair in a “natural style” and I didn’t want to worry about my hair bushing up when I went to the gym, when it was hot outside or if it rained. All of these reasons were enough for me to confidently say I didn’t want to go natural, but she challenged me to “just try it”. A year later and I’m almost fully natural and have no regrets!
I think most people would find it strange that a Dominican stylist would recommend someone to go natural because of all of the stereotypes around shady Dominican hair salon practices of pushing chemicals, not being natural-hair friendly, and my all time favorite: secretly adding straightening agents to conditioners (I find this hilarious because it’s so hard to believe). But the truth of the matter is that there are way too many Dominican hair salons around now for anyone to feel pressured to do anything with their hair that they don’t want done.
If you’re considering going natural without the immediate BC (big chop) and want to continue wearing your hair straight the majority of the time, I recommend transitioning to natural hair with the help of a Dominican stylist by following these steps:
#1. Understand that transitioning this way means you cannot obsess about your curl pattern. Some women are very adamant about maintaining their curl pattern and you’ll read a lot of horror stories about women who went to a Dominican salon and their curl pattern being ruined. I can honestly say I have seen tight curl patterns loosen with continuous blowouts. So if you’re not planning to wear your hair straight the majority of the time, you can stop reading here and find another transitioning method.
#2. Find a Dominican salon/stylist that will understand your goal and help you get there. They absolutely exist. If you currently have a Dominican salon that you go to, talk to your preferred stylist (I do recommend sticking to 1 or 2 at the max) and let them know you want to stop getting relaxers or texturizers to go natural. If you’re worried about the language barrier...even in the most basic Spanish say: “Yo no quiero mas alisados”. Start there; the best stylists will appreciate your effort and with you speaking English slowly, you’ll be surprised at how well you’ll be able to communicate. The majority of stylist can understand more English than you think, especially when it comes to hair. Now, don’t go trying to talk about your sister in law’s cousin’s brother....you’ll start to get the smile and nod which means they have no idea what you’re talking about even though it looks like they’re agreeing with you. Check out our locator if you're looking for a salon/stylist near you.
#3. You’ll have to go to the salon on a consistent basis. Since you’re planning to wear your hair straight the majority of the time, this will be important because the longer you go without a chemical the more noticeable the time away from the salon will be. When you have a chemical, it’s easy to skip the salon a few weeks and maybe even do your hair at home, because you don’t have to worry about the roots bushing up for at least 5 weeks.
#4. You cannot skip deep conditioners. This is important even when you’re not transitioning, but extremely important when you are because you’ll want to keep your natural hair as soft as possible to avoid any unnecessary breakage. The line of demarcation (where your natural hair meets the chemical portion of your hair) is very fragile and by keeping your hair conditioned, you’ll soften the difference between the two sections. Since you may be going to the salon on a more frequent basis, save some money by bringing your own deep conditioner...most salons won’t charge you if you bring your own. Just make sure you’re using a good Dominican conditioner!
#5. Get steam treatments once a month. As you get further into your transition, this will become more important. This step is an extension of #5...the steam treatments moisturize the hair more than a deep conditioner. You can save money by applying a treatment to your hair and letting steam from a hot shower penetrate your hair at home before going to the salon. For the best results, make sure you’re using a treatment designed for steam treatments and do not put a plastic cap over your hair. This step won’t be as beneficial if you’re using a regular deep conditioner. Any of the Maxima or Alter Ego treatments work very well with the steamers.
#6. Treat your scalp with a good lotion/ampolla/vitamin. You’ll want to make sure that the new growth you have is healthy and massaging your scalp with a liquid lotion will help with that. There are a lot of good lotions/ampollas/vitamin drops that most Dominican hair salons offer with services. I recommend doing this treatment twice a month (yes, in addition to the conditioner). Again, you can save money by bringing your own instead of paying the typical $10/vial at the salon.
#7. Trim/cut your hair as you go along. To the disapproval of a lot of people, I don’t agree with scheduled trims. Everyone’s hair grows at a different pace and trims will become more important as you transition because you’ll shed a lot more if you don’t and may even experience unnecessary breakage. Rely on your stylists with the timing and the amount to trim for this step.
#8. Wrap your hair at night and secure it with a cap and scarf. This may seem like a simple step, but it’s very important if you want to keep your edges straight in between salon visits. If you don’t have the wrap cap, wrap your hair as normal and use jumbo bobby pins and a satin scarf to tie your hair down. Even if you own a wrap cap, I still recommend putting a scarf over top at night.
#9. Don’t comb your hair with a small tooth comb. I almost missed this step because I haven’t owned a small tooth comb in years, but it’s super important. If you have to manipulate your hair in any way, only use a wide-tooth comb.
#10. Keep your hair moisturized in between salon visits. Dry hair leads to breakage. Luckily, if you’re following steps 1 - 9, you shouldn’t have to worry about dryness and an occasional drop of serum or shine spray at night before you wrap your hair will keep your hair moisturized in between salon visits. For this step, stay away from any leave-in conditioner that’s water based because it’ll bush up your hair in a heartbeat!
Follow these steps and you’re on your way to natural hair that’s kept straight the majority of the time!