A transition from relaxer to natural hair is not easy, but people have been doing it for ages. The most important thing that you need to understand and accept is that it will take patience, commitment, and consistency.
Don’t be afraid to start – the feel and the look of your natural locks are well worth the journey. I have helped many women embrace their true hair texture, and I’m here to give you tips on how to go natural and encourage you along the way.
#1: Big Chop or Not?
There are two ways to transition from relaxed or chemically processed hair to natural hair. The first is to do a big chop, which means to cut everything off. And the second is to stop relaxing or chemically processing your hair and allow your natural hair to grow from underneath.
If you go for the big chop, you are taking your natural hair journey from transitioning to officially a hundred percent natural in a matter of minutes. Modern TWA hairstyles look spectacular, and it’s the quickest way to go natural. It is also the hardest mentally because you have to detach yourself emotionally from how long your hair is now. By the way, if you prefer to retain your length growing out the perm, you still have to mentally prepare, as it will take some time for your natural curls to shape up.
#2: Cut as Necessary
Even if you want to retain length while transitioning, some cutting is necessary for the health of your hair. This does not mean the big chop or a buzz cut, but you still have to gradually trim the ends of your hair every now and then (six to eight weeks is recommended). This helps to speed up the growth process for the natural hair and also keeps your fragile strands from breaking during the transition process.
#3: Deep Condition Your Hair Often
Transitioning hair is very delicate and is most compromised at the point where the new growth and previously straightened strands meet, the so-called “demarcation line”. You, therefore, need to treat that point with extra care.
One way to care for transitioning hair is to steam hair and apply a deep conditioning mask weekly to keep it from breakage. The one from Thank God It’s Natural is a great choice and the brand’s title gives so much inspiration not to quick your transition.
#4: Reduce Heat Styling
It’s not just enough to deep condition your hair more often. It is also important to reduce how much heat you use to style your hair. If you can, cut out heat styling completely. Heating tools have a way of drying out hair and cause breakage. And while transitioning, the last thing you want to do is cause breakage to hair that is already compromised.
#5: Go for Protective Styles
While transitioning, it is better to avoid combing your hair too often and too hard. This is why protective styles are a great option when growing out the relaxer. You can go for box braids for a few months and then go for a weave for a couple of weeks. The concept, in general, is that you give your hair a chance to breathe by cutting down on friction and tension.
One tip is to keep the tension off of your hairline, your temples and the nape of your head, no matter the protective style you go for. Your goal is luscious transitioned hair without eventually any thinning edges problem.
#6: Don’t Be Alarmed at the Shedding
As your new hair grows in, your old hair will shed naturally, and it’s best that you are mentally prepared for this. Remember that the goal is a full head of healthy natural hair, so the old hair has to go. Even if you go for protective styling, hair will fall out when you take out the style, and this is no cause for alarm. The only cause for alarm is when you are experiencing daily hair loss that is as much as golf ball-sized clumps.
#7: Use the Right Hair Products
One factor that extends the hair transition process is using the wrong products. It is therefore very important that you use sulfate-free shampoos and moisturizing hair conditioners for natural hair. Avoid drying ingredients such as alcohol-based stylers and sulfate shampoos and conditioners.
#8: Make Sure Your Scalp is Healthy
It is important to focus on scalp health while transitioning. Make sure that your scalp and hair follicles don’t have product build-up and flaking by incorporating a thorough scalp massage into your wash day routine. Keeping your scalp healthy will help rev up hair growth.
#9: Detangle Carefully
How you brush and comb your transitioning hair is every bit as important as avoiding heat styling and using the right hair products. It is vital that you avoid using fine-tooth combs when detangling and styling. Rather, use a wide-tooth comb from the ends up to the roots and, as much as possible, avoid brushing your hair when wet.
#10: Keep Your Hair Moisturized
There is no overemphasizing the place of moisture for any kind of hair, but this bears repeating for transitioning hair. Moisturization is probably the single most important thing you can do for your hair to maintain the elasticity required to keep fragile curls growing. As your natural curls come in, it may be a little harder for the scalp’s natural oils to move down the hair shaft, and your hair may have the tendency to dry out, so you need to keep your hair moisturized at all times.
You will need patience as you transition, whether you grow out relaxed hair or do a big chop. It should take at least three to four months before you start to see real change, but this depends on how long it usually takes for your hair to grow and how well you protect it during the transitioning period. Through it all, you need to be patient with your hair, be committed to the process, and be consistent with the efforts you are putting in.
See you on the other side with a full head of healthy, natural hair. Your @theafrocurlyhaircoach.