Transitioning Natural Hair
How to Transition from Relaxed to
First, what is a Hair Relaxer?
A hair relaxer is a cream used by people with Afro-textured/curly hair. Hair relaxers are designed to straighten the hair by breaking down the bonds in the hair’s protein, causing the natural curls to loosen out. The main active ingredient in a relaxer is sodium hydroxide, also known as lye.
Garrett Augustus Morgan created the first hair relaxer in 1909. He established G. A Morgan Hair Refining Company and began selling his products to black/mixed people. Many black women who use hair relaxers say they use relaxers for manageability. Many say that straight hair is more acceptable in society. (Is this the case? Or, is it the person to decide?) Using a hair relaxer or not is a choice. And we must respect each other’s decisions. Both natural and relaxed hair has its challenges.
Here are the Pros and Cons of Relaxed Hair
- Easier to manage
- Less time
- Easier to detangle/comb
- Dries faster
- Increased risk of breakage
- More complicated
- New growth
- Weaker structure
- Scalp irritation
- Health issues
Society and Natural Hair
For many years, society has forced its standards of beauty (straight hair) on women with Afro-textured hair. I want to tell you this notion of beauty is history! We have come a long way. Many black women are awakening and going natural. We are here, and we will continue to move forward! Wearing your natural hair can bring awareness to others, not only black women but society. Set an example. It is necessary to lead your way in your vision!
Transitioning from relaxed to natural hair is a process. It can take months depending on the length or how fast your hair grows. Transitioning hair can often be a struggle, so it requires your complete attention. Discovering your hair is a continuous learning journey. Take advantage of this precious moment to recover and embrace yourself. Explore deep inside and discover the hidden authentic being who you are. Transitioning to natural hair is not only cutting or growing out of the relaxed hair but also caring for your body, mind, and soul.
Here are the Pros and Cons of Natural Hair
- Stronger/thicker hair
- Keep length
- Unique hair texture
- Prone to knots and tangles
- Difficult to detangle/comb
- Negative stigma
Here are My Top Tips for Transitioning from Relaxed to Natural Hair
Embrace your Natural Hair
To embrace your natural hair, you must educate yourself on Afro-textured hair and how to care for it. If you are here reading this post, it is a part of embracing your natural hair because you are seeking knowledge and understanding. I want to tell you; I am here to help and guide you through the transition. On your quest to your transition, you must embrace yourself to accept your natural hair. Practice self-care, self-compassion, self-discipline, and self-reflection.
Embracing your natural hair will bring overflowing healing of joy and will reverse the insecurities and disbelief.
It is necessary to do your research. There is a good deal of information out there. Seek support. Read books, watch YouTube videos and engage yourself in the natural hair community. These are great ways to get inspired. You can never have enough knowledge. Share your natural hair journey with other black women. Encourage, compliment, and uplift each other.
Keep a Journal
Plan before starting your natural hair journey. Pay close attention to your hair and what it needs. Keep track of the changes in your hair. Make notes of the dates you did things to your hair. Such as trims, protective styling. Use a ruler or a measuring tape to track your new growth. Take pictures and videos of your hair’s growth. Keeping a hair journal will show your progress. It is an excellent way of uplifting yourself.
Consider the big chop. The big chop is the act of cutting off all or most of the relaxed hair when transitioning to your natural hair. The big chop represents FREEDOM! One common question when transitioning to natural hair is whether to big chop or a long-term transition. Cutting off the relaxed hair is an effective technique. The big chop is great for manageability. It is a low-maintenance and easier to style.
Many women are opting for the big chop. When I had my first big chop, it overjoyed me. It was fascinating to witness stages of my hair growth. Oh, do I ever miss the days of my big chop! I swear it was also a fashion statement. There are many ways to rock your big chop. Big earrings, eye shadows, hair accessories, lipsticks, etc. I promise they will be your best friends as you transition.
Consider the long-term transition. Going natural without the big chop? You are not alone, many women do!
Long-term transition means you will have to transition to natural hair. Long-term transition is a slow process. Dealing with two different hair textures can be difficult to manage. But you have lots more options for styling. It is important to do regular trims, do not be shy. Trimming transitioning hair on a regular will help with manageability.
Many women are reluctant about going natural because they don’t want to do the big chop. The big chop is a preference. So, don’t allow this or anyone to get into your way of going natural. Be certain to look at both options before making your decision. Transitioning to natural hair is a process whether you big chop or long-term transition. Embrace and uplift every moment of your natural hair journey.
Protective styling is one of the most helpful methods used when transitioning. The method should protect and allow your hair to rest from the regular manipulation of combing, styling, etc. When you wear your hair with your ends tucked away, it is a protective hairstyle. Protecting the ends of your hair is important. The ends are the oldest, the most fragile part of the hair. Many women who go for long-term transition opt to wear more protective hairstyles.
Protective styling does not speed hair growth but helps to promote hair growth because of the low-manipulation. There are various protective hairstyles to choose from. Such as box braids, marley braids, faux locs and crochet braids. Some protective hairstyles take time to install. But once installed, your real hair will no longer be visible.
Low-Manipulation Hairstyles are easier and faster to install such as cornrows, twists, braids, and buns.
Take advantage and experiment with the various protective hairstyles. Find a go-to hairstyle that works best for you. Use with caution. Careful hair that is braided tightly or left in for a long period will lead to dryness and breakage. You want to give your hair a break to be free sometimes. The scalp needs to breathe.
- Use a clarifying shampoo, condition, and deep conditioner treatment mask before and after protective styling.
- Soak the synthetic hair in vinegar and water for 15 minutes to get rid of that annoying itch when wearing synthetics hair.
- Maintain moisture on a regular by spritzing your hair with water or leave-in conditioner mix.
When you do not have a ton of time to do your hair head wrap or a turban comes in handy and is a great way to protect your hair while transitioning. Headwraps are trendy, versatile and are available in different styles, colours, shapes, and prints. There are many ways to tie a scarf which makes it easier and more convincing to wear one. One of the most popular ways to tie a headwrap is the top knot wrap.
- Use satin material hair scarfs.
- Do not tie your scarf tight.
- Avoid pulling and yanking your hair while you wrap your hair.
- Spritz your hair with water before and after a protective style.
Build your hair regimen. A hair regimen is a set of rules and practices caring for your hair on a routine, whether daily, weekly, or monthly. It is fundamental to create a realistic, healthy hair regimen to follow. Structure and consistency are key to healthy hair. Stick with what works best for your hair. Take the time to learn, understand, and give your hair what it needs most. Tender, love, and care.
Example of a Hair Regimen
- Moisturize (water), leave-in conditioner
- Night care – silk pillowcase
- Scalp massage
- Leave-in conditioner
- Deep conditioning mask
- Clarifying shampoo
- Hot oil treatment
- Protein treatment
We can agree that natural hair can go through a lot of products. Familiarize yourself with the ingredients in your products. Avoid ingredients that are toxic or drying. Look for how your hair reacts to different products. Remember, everybody’s hair is different. What might work for someone else might not work for you. Do not stick to a product that is not working for your hair. If you find a product that works well for you, then stick with it.
Keep your hair hydrated. Water is the number one moisture. Hair that keeps moisture has more elasticity and breaks less. Keep your hair moisturized. Moisture is fundamental to maintaining healthy hair. I recommend applying a deep conditioning treatment mask at least once a week for 20-45 minutes. Deep conditioning treatment restores and heals the hair. Always apply a leave-in conditioner before styling.
Line of Demarcation
Be mindful of the line of demarcation. The line of demarcation (the weakest point) where the relaxed hair and new growth meet, which makes your hair vulnerable to breakage and shedding.
Trim Your Hair
Trimming your hair is essential to maintain the health of the hair. As your hair grows, don’t be afraid to trim the damaged/relaxed ends. It will help to reduce breakages when detangling and styling. And most of all, it gets you closer to your goal. Expect some breakage and shedding. Transitioning hair is under a lot of stress. It is important to be extra careful when handling your hair.
Signs when its Time to Trim
- See-through ends
- The ends feeling rough
- Split ends
- Increase tangles and knots
- Difficult to detangle and style
Detangling your hair, the correct way is very important. The hair is delicate in the transitioning stage. Be extra careful when handling your hair. Use a thick moisturizing conditioner to help with the detangling process. Use your hands! I can not stress enough the importance of using your finger to detangle. Finger detangling is safer and an effective method to remove the tangles and knots. Use a good quality wide-tooth comb after if needed.
Tips for Detangling Natural Hair
- Detangle on wet hair
- Finger detangle first
- Divide your hair into four sections
- Use a lot of conditioner
Reduce heating tools. Heat is drying on the hair, which increases the chance of breakage if you plan on using heat. I recommend that you apply a heat protectant. If you have to use heat to dry your hair, use an ionic hooded dryer (indirect heat) instead of a blow-dryer (direct heart). Air drying is the safest but can be time-consuming. If you want to create curls, use flexi rods and rollers set instead of heat from the styling tools.
Night care is important. Protect your hair at night! Tie your hair at night with a satin scarf or bonnet. Invest in a good quality satin pillowcase. A cotton pillowcase dries out the moisture from the hair. And will lead to dryness and breakage. Avoid sleeping with your hair tied up. Three-strand braid your hair instead to avoid tangles and knots.
It is important to have patients. Transitioning hair takes time. Try not to allow yourself to get frustrated. Natural hair requires extra time. So, set up a time to care for your hair. Do not handle your hair when you are upset or in a hurry. Lack of patients can cause unwanted step backs on your natural hair journey. Stay positive and do not give up on your goals.
Remember to be patient and don’t give up!
Transitioning from relaxed to natural hair is not an easy process as we know. It has many difficulties. But. EMBRACING your natural hair is the key to your mission. You must embrace yourself. Going natural was one of the most powerful things I have done! It is a beautiful and unique experience that one can experience. My natural hair has brought me an overflowing blessing of joy and peace to myself and others. Words cannot explain how humble I am today sharing my experiences with you. Do not try to control your hair; you are responsible for taking good care of your hair no matter how it acts. You have to work with it. Observe and listen to your hair.
The most important advice I have to tell you is to love and embrace your hair and accept it regardless of your hair texture, curly type, length, big chop, or long-term transition. Stand strong and walk in your glory. Come along be part of the natural hair moment.
Love yourself! Love and wear your hair with pride!
I would love to hear about your transitioning journey. Need help with transitioning? Leave me a message below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org