By Mako Muzenda

Natural hair is beautiful. The way it crowns your head, it’s different textures and styles, how it can look so effortlessly beautiful. Three months ago I decided to switch to #TeamNatural. I’d had natural hair before, but after a particular incident where my favourite comb broke while I was fighting with my hair, I switched to a relaxer. After some time I decided it was time to go natural but, unlike last time, I chose not to cut my hair and start from scratch. I’m currently transitioning my hair from relaxed to natural, and now that the process is almost complete. Below are my observations on the process of  transitioning from relapsed to natural:

Stage 1: Such excitement!

This is when you’re really pumped to finally have those glorious natural tresses. You happily toss out your relaxer and go buy some natural haircare products. Pinterest and hair blogs become your best friend, and when you notice those natural coils first starting to emerge, you pat yourself on the back for your commitment.

Stage 2: Experimenting

Now that your hair has a little more texture to it, you can start trying out some of those natural hairstyles you’ve been drooling over. Twist out? Yes please! Curly hair? Count me in! The number of bobby pins and little hair accessories you have will shoot through the roof, but you don’t mind. You’ve got the length and the texture, and your hair is your playground.

Stage 3: Wait, where’s my hair gone?

The happiness comes to an abrupt halt when you start to experience shrinkage. You’re used to your hair being a particular length, so when you wash it and it looks significantly shorter, your emotions can range from a frown to complete despair. Your hair looks shorter so it’s harder to style. You’re wary of washing it because of the shrinkage, but you don’t want to always blow it out because heat and natural hair do not get along. You sigh, but you’ve come this far, so you push on.

Stage 4: Moisturise, moisturise, and moisturise!

One thing I realised is that natural hair soaks up moisture like a sponge. When my hair was relaxed, I could get away with moisturising it every other day because it would still be manageable. Natural hair is a different story. You have to find the right shampoo, the right conditioner, the right hair oil and the right hairspray to keep your hair moisturised. And the good stuff costs a pretty penny. By the time I’m done washing, conditioning and moisturising my hair, a good two to three hours have passed and my arms feel like they’ve been pumping iron in a gym.  At least you get a good arm workout from it all.

Stage 5: Sweet success!

Congratulations, you have made it to the end! Your hair is now completely natural, and although it required some big changes to your haircare routine, you’re happy with the results. You’re a pro at protective styling, you inspect the labels of hair products for anything that could harm your precious crown, and you can’t keep track of how many little pins, combs and hairbands you own. Sure, it cost quite a bit in the beginning,  but now you have a nose for spotting good deals and dabbling in some DIY recipes to get your hair just how you want it. There will be bad days of course, natural hair is as unpredictable as it is beautiful, but that’s what your arsenal of headscarves and hats are for. You look back at your decision to transition from relaxed to natural, and you have no regrets. You’re a loyal, card-carrying member of #TeamNatural.