The natural hair movement might be making huge waves way across America and Europe, but sadly the movement hasn’t quite reached the region yet, or at least not one that’s similar in scope or scale.
The reality is, the Arab world continues to idolize European beauty standards, and despite the fact that a large percentage of society has naturally curly hair, it’s rarely embraced. Keratin treatments are as common as blow-dries, both of which are relatively inexpensive across the region, leading the services to weave their way into all socio-economic classes.
And despite the dangers that come with such treatments (hair-smoothing chemicals contain formaldehyde, an allergen and carcinogen that can lead to serious health hazards if one is exposed to it at high levels), no regulations have been instated to urge people against their use—and Keratin continues to be as prevalent today as it was when it first hit the scene almost a decade ago.
But for those that are ready to embrace their curls, the transition is no easy feat.
It’s a commitment, one that’s both physical and mental as it requires not only taking care of your strands, but undoing years of mental conditioning that leaves one associating curls with negative characteristics.
But whether you’re not ready to make the change, or if you’re open to it and are just looking for some guidance — we’re here to set the right expectations, so here’s what it’s really like to transition to natural hair:
You’re going to lose length
Heat-styling and chemically treating hair is incredibly damaging. Breakage is extremely common, and if you’re looking to embrace your natural hair texture—you’ll have to accept that it’s practically impossible to restore texture to your treated strands. So, you’ll either have to chop it all off or gradually trim as new growth comes through.
If you don’t opt for a short cut, you’ll have to accept having unruly hair for a while
This is when it’s most tempting to go back to heat-styling or chemical treatments like keratin. Having half-straight half-curly strands isn’t ideal—you’ll have to constantly remind yourself that it’s only going to be that way for a few months, and as the cliché goes: patience is a virtue.
You have to build a solid hair-care routine
The transition phase is when it’s most necessary to be gentle with your hair. Thankfully, there are now a number of products on the market dedicated to treating curly hair of different textures, and if you can’t find something that suits your needs, opting for all-natural products is always a great idea. Just remember, sulfate-free shampoo is a must and moisture is key. But more importantly, consistency is imperative.
You might relapse, and that’s okay
Transitioning is a difficult journey to embark on. It can be difficult to commit to—and that’s okay. Falling back into heat-styling or going for another chemical treatment is probably going to feel like defeat, and the guilt that comes with it isn’t easy to bare, especially if you’ve taken steps to stand against a mindset that’s deep-rooted in the idealization of European beauty standards. It’s important to remember that you can always try again.