Congratulations, you’ve decided to let your hair grow out! While you may be ready to put down the relaxer, you may not be ready for the “big chop” either. If you’re going natural but don’t know where to begin, transitioning is the way to go.
What does transitioning your hair mean?
Basically, it is the simple process of growing out your natural texture before cutting off the processed or damaged ends. If you don’t want to sacrifice your hair length and go natural all at once, transitioning is the way to go!
Personally, I believe your confidence is everything when it come to transitioning. That is what will get you through the often long process of growing out your natural hair - especially if you are used to having straight hair or wearing a weave. It’s important that before you cut off your processed ends that you are comfortable with your hair look and length. If you aren’t you, will likely end up chemically processing your hair again and reverse your progress. With transitioning, you can take your time and gradually go back to your natural hair at a rate that works best for you.
So, now that you understand what transitioning is, here is how the process actually works:
1. Stop using chemical relaxers
Obviously, to start going natural you have to stop using a relaxer or texturizer! Once you’ve officially committed to this, you can start transitioning your hair.
2. Stop using any form of chemical treatments
It’s not only relaxers and texturizers that have to go, say goodbye to all things chemical. That means no more hair coloring or keratin treatments. Until you’ve cut off all your processed ends, it is important to avoid these damaging chemicals. As your hair becomes stronger, you can start experimenting with at least hair dye again.
3. Avoid using heat as much as possible
As you are transitioning between two hair textures, heat is the enemy. It is important that you steer clear of heat straightening tools such as flat irons and hot combs! Your hair is already in a very fragile state, so encountering heat damage could actually permanently straighten your hair - which is exactly what you are trying to avoid! Also avoid using a blow dryer outside of deep conditioning treatments - even then the setting should always be on low. Allow your hair to air dry without heat as much as possible.
4. Deep condition and detangle frequently
Weakness in your hair is pretty much unavoidable when transitioning, the difference in hair textures between your natural roots and relaxed hair is subject to easy breakage. Keep your hair is the best shape possible by deep conditioning with every wash that you do. I recommend washing no more than 2 times a week while transitioning.
Detangling is a major part of getting your hair to grow out long. Always detangle when your hair is wet and slippery with conditioner with a wide-toothed comb. Start at the ends and work your way up. Remember to be gentle! Take your time when you detangle and style your hair so it doesn’t break off before you are ready to cut it.
5. Moisturize and seal your hair consistently
When you have relaxed hair, water is something we try to avoid. But water is the best moisturizer for your hair while transitioning. Dry hair breaks, no matter what state it is in! Be sure to use water-based moisturizers and not products with high levels of alcohol. You can also add in your favorite natural hair oils on top or mixed in to help seal in the moisture.
6. Use low manipulation hairstyles
Now that you are working between two hair types you’ll want to find a transitioning style that works for you. Before I cut my ends, Bantu knots and twist out styles were my go-tos are are easy to do with shorter hair. As your hair gains length, you can try protective styles to help to grow and give your hair a much needed rest. Buns, braids, twists and even wigs are all great protective styles you can do at home.
7. Gradually cut off your damaged ends
You can trim as little or as much hair as you want until your hair has reached a length you feel comfortable with. Remember you do not have to rock your all natural hair right away! I waited about 3 months before finally chopping off my processed ends, by then I had enough natural growth to actually style with. Depending on the length you had to start with, make sure to get a good trim each month until your fully natural!
8. Be patient
How long your transitioning process takes depends on the current length of your hair. Growing your hair out natural is not a quick process, it will take time. The average person grows about ½ inch of hair a month and when you have coily hair it can seem like less due to shrinkage. Don’t forget to keep shrinkage in mind! If you have shoulder length hair and the majority of it is relaxed, then it may take over a year before your natural hair reaches that length or at least a length you can be comfortable with.
The beauty of this method is that you don’t have to rush to cut of your hair. These tips are all designed to help nurture your natural coily or curly hair, because in the end, that is what you want to rock!
Good luck my naturalistas!