Transitioning from relaxed to natural hair can be scary, especially if you have been relaxed for a long time.
Let’s face it, many black women have never been taught how to care for their hair’s natural texture.
Some have even had relaxers since elementary school and, for some, the idea of a big chop can be downright scary.
Trying to figure out what our natural hair needs can make anyone rethink their natural hair journey.
Lucky for us, the natural hair movement has provided us with so many resources that weren’t previously available.
Thanks to the many natural hair community on YouTube and blogs, we can learn about all things healthy hair and get on the path to finally saying goodbye to chemical relaxers.
Here are some tips to make transitioning easier:
1. Acceptance is the key to success
Before transitioning, it’s important to learn about and accept your natural curl pattern.
This means understanding the different types of textures that make up your own personal hair type.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that your hair will not look like it did when it was relaxed.
You’ll have to get used to seeing your natural hair texture and learn to take care of your hair in new ways.
And that can be hard for some initially in the natural hair transition process.
The first time you look in the mirror, you may not love what you see.
And, you may have damaged hair from using chemical relaxers.
Be patient with yourself and your hair through this first awkward phase.
The amount of time it takes for your straight ends to grow out will vary from person to person.
2. Know that it takes time
You’re making a huge change in your appearance and you need to give yourself some grace to allow time to get readjusted to your natural curls, while you learn how to care for and style your hair in ways that make you look and feel good.
Transitioning takes time, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t achieve your desired look within a few weeks or months. It may take several years for new hair growth to get to the length you want.
Understand that transitioning doesn’t have to happen overnight; you can gradually trim off the relaxed ends as your natural growth becomes more visible.
You can also use wigs and weaves to “help the process” while your hair is getting healthy and strong.
Chemical relaxing does a number on our hair patterns and the effect it has is permanent.
The only way your hair will go back to its natural, most healthy state is for it to literally grow out.
The hair growth process is about 1/4″-1/2″ every month, and that is the BEST case scenario.
If we experience breakage, then we’ll see even less length retention.
So, don’t set expectations too high at first, and give yourself time to allow the process to progress naturally while taking the opportunity to learn as much about your hair as you can.
3. Develop a hair care routine early and be consistent
Like your body, your hair will benefit most from a consistent routine of nourishment and care.
Start implementing a hair care routine as soon as you decide to transition and stick with it.
The routine should include shampooing, conditioning, deep conditioning, trimming, and protective styling.
It’s important to keep your ends trimmed regularly to prevent split ends from traveling further up the hair shaft, which can cause breakage.
The points at which your natural and relaxed hair meets are the weakest parts of your hair strands and require a great deal of care to prevent more breakage than what would naturally occur.
Trimming your relaxed ends will minimize the damage that transitioning can cause and help you retain more length.
4. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different products and styling techniques
One of the best things about transitioning is the opportunity to try out different products and styling techniques without worrying about “messing up” your hair.
You’ll eventually find a product or technique that works really well for you, but it may take some trial and error to get there.
This is also a great time to figure out how often your hair needs shampooing, conditioning, etc as what might work for others may not be the same for you.
Be sure to keep notes on which products worked well for your hair so that when transitioning is complete, you’ll have an arsenal of products that work well for your hair type.
Be mindful of the products you choose for transitioning; make sure they are free of any harsh chemicals or sulfates that could harm your fragile hair.
Also, remember to be flexible during the process.
5. Protective hairstyles are your BFFs
Protective styles are great when transitioning because they help protect your new growth while allowing you to experiment with different looks without having to manipulate your transitioning hair too much.
They can also do much for helping you adjust to seeing your hair in its natural state without feeling the stress of learning how to care for and style your hair.
Buns, braids (like box braids, cornrows, or crochet braids), and wigs are all great protective styles to experiment with.
Bantu knots and twist outs are also faves among naturalistas starting out on the transitioning journey.
These styles don’t take much time out of your daily styling routine and can really improve the health of your hair during the growing out process.
6. Be Smart with styling
The best ways to protect your ends and promote healthy natural hair with protective styling are to maintain moisture levels, avoid heat styling, and keep up with regular hot oil treatments.
Your hair strands are most vulnerable, and prone to breakage, at the point where the relaxed hair meet the curly hair.
This hair loss will affect your length and may discourage you enough to abandon your transition goals.
Protective styling can offer a buffer at that line of demarcation by minimizing daily manipulation of the hair and further weakening the strands.
Just be sure not to keep braids and weaves in too long or they may cause breakage and tangles due to the product build-up and dirt.
Even roller sets can be used as a ‘set it and forget it’ protective style.
Be creative and have fun with it.
Protective styling works for all different textures of hair and you should experiment to see which ones work best for yours.
7. Stay consistent with moisture and hydration
Moisture is key for transitioning hair, as transitioning can leave your strands feeling dry, brittle and weak.
Dry hair is the quickest way to hair loss by causing the ends of your hair to split and break off.
Wash day is the perfect time to add much-needed hydration to your hair.
Used once or twice a month, a clarifying shampoo can help remove oil and dirt the best.
For alternating wash weeks, a sulfate-free shampoo cleans your strands without leaving them feeling stripped.
Use a moisturizer designed for transitioning hair that contains natural oils such as coconut oil or jojoba oil along with water-based ingredients like aloe vera juice to help restore hydration levels in your strands.
Try deep conditioner treatments at least twice a month (with heat) for an extra boost of moisture and protein.
A leave-in conditioner is a great way to also get better results with your goal of retaining hair length.
Finish off with a sealant oil or butter to lock in the moisture and provide added protection from the elements.
There are plenty of great products on the market now, but you can also make your own natural products at home.
8. Use heat sparingly
Keep heat usage and use of hot tools to a very bare minimum (or not at all if you can).
Heat damage occurs among newly transitioning naturals in the beginning stages of transitioning because many try to make their natural hair look and behave like the straight hair they are accustomed to seeing with relaxers.
Your hair needs a lot of moisture and applying heat to it too often will most definitely cause breakage, as well as possibly alter your natural hair texture permanently.
If you have to use that flat iron, be sure to use a quality heat protectant each time.
Following this routine will help your transitioning hair stay healthy and resilient until it is completely natural.
The right products can make a huge difference in promoting a healthy scalp and having longer hair.
Don’t be afraid to try. new products from time to time as your hair needs can change as it grows out and gets healthier.
9. Handle with care
As stated previously, the demarcation line where your natural hair meets your relaxed hair is fragile.
Invest in a good wide-tooth comb to prevent pulling and snagging of your coils during detangling.
Wearing silk bonnets to bed can promote length retention as this minimizes any friction between your coils and bed linens.
10. Be patient and don’t rush the process
The transitioning process can take anywhere from 6 months to a year, so patience is key!
Don’t be tempted by quick-fix transitioning methods as they may not be effective for everyone.
Take your time transitioning, enjoy the process, pamper your strands, do research on products that work best for transitioning hair, experiment with different styles, etc.
Most importantly, stay positive and be kind to yourself throughout the transitioning process.
The journey doesn’t have to be stressful or overwhelming- just take it one day at a time and celebrate the progress each step of the way.
By following these transitioning from relaxed to natural hair tips, you’ll be on your way to healthy and beautiful natural hair in no time.
So, go ahead and get started today! Happy transitioning!