The harsh chemicals used for a perm can cause African American hair to become brittle and dry; stress and heat used to style permed hair can also be damaging. If you're fed up with your perm and have decided to embrace your natural hair texture, follow a few tips to ensure a smooth transition. If you're still aren't sure how to style kinky curls growing underneath straight tresses, remember you can always rock a wig in the meantime.
Stop putting chemicals in your hair. The transition phase can be difficult for African American women growing out their natural hair. The natural texture coming through at the roots looks drastically different from permed hair, and you may be tempted to perm your edges so your hair will lay down neatly. Resist the temptation so that your natural hair will be an even length all around. Stay away from products that promise to strip the perm from your hair and return it to its natural texture; putting any additional chemicals on top of your perm will weaken your hair and potentially cause it to break off.
Stop putting heat on your hair. Pressing, blow drying or flat ironing your hair while growing out your perm can strip moisture from your hair and cause further damage. Let your hair air dry after washing and conditioning.
Decide if you're going to cut your perm out or grow it out. Investigate the options related to either choice. If you cut your perm out, make sure you're comfortable with wearing your hair very short and natural. As it grows, your hair styling options will grow as well, including twists, corn rows, extensions or a simple afro. If you grow your perm out, research transitional styles that camouflage your two textures of hair. Suggestions include corn rows, extensions, a straw set (setting your hair with very small rollers) or wearing it crinkly (braiding or twisting your hair and taking it down without combing it out). Gradually clip off a bit of permed hair every six weeks.
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Wash and deep condition your hair, leaving it in for 20 to 30 minutes, at least once per week. Allow your hair to air dry to seal the moisture in.
Oubria Tronshaw specializes in topics related to parenting and business. She received a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Chicago State University. She currently teaches English at Harper Community College in the Chicago area.