The Transitioners Guide to Natural Hair

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hey there,

This post aims to assist anyone who is thinking about going from chemically relaxed hair to natural hair, but isn't quite ready to do the big chop.

If this sounds at all like you... I implore you, keep on reading! So dear reader, let's get right to it shall we?

You need not undergo the Big Chop if you want to go from relaxed hair to natural hair, this decision is made solely upon ones discretion - I like options as much as the next girl; transitioning from relaxed to natural hair is one way of making the great switch over.

The Transitioners Guide to Natural Hair:
Here are a few reasons to opt for the transitory route:

1. The "shock" factor is greatly reduced as opposed to opting for a full BC. Some women are used to having a certain length of hair and are not quite ready for the short hair look. Transitioning allows you to grow your natural hair out to a length that you are comfortable with.

2. Transitioning also prepares ones loved ones for what is to come... It gives one the time to mentally prepare close friends and family for your new natural look.

3. If the state of your relaxed hair is still healthy, transitioning allows for a variety of styling options as one begins to reach their optimum natural hair length (be it one month or one full year, the choice is up to the individual really)

Human hair is a delicate and fragile thing, whatever state or type. This rings more true for those who are transitioning from chemically relaxed hair to natural hair. If not handled correctly, this period could lead to insane breakage and damaged hair. This is a critical time ladies, caution and care are the natural order. Here are the golden rules; know your products and tools, maintain minimal manipulation, avoid direct heat as well as tight hair styles that cause stress.

Sounds simple enough no?

One must learn how to manage both hair types. This will lead to healthy growth and minimal breakage. It is important to be mindful of the moisture/ protein balance - as is the case with natural hair. The key to balancing on this tight rope is sticking to a regimen that caters for both;

- Moisture -
Infuse as much moisture into your hair by carrying out weekly deep condition sessions. Relaxed hair loses moisture faster than curly hair due to its porous nature. Co-washing is a great habit to adopt right away, wash your hair with a hydrating or moisturizing conditioner as often as possible (2 - 3 a week if you please) take your co-wash sessions as the perfect opportunity to detangle your hair (when saturated in conditioner), detangle from tip to root using a wide toothed comb. Always follow up your shampoo sessions, protein and henna treatments with a conditioning session; this restores some of the lost moisture. Keep your hair moisturized every-other day with a leave-in conditioner and seal it with your natural oil of choice. Water/ aloe vera mix spritz is a great way to add that extra bit of moisture to your regimen.

- Protein Treatments -
Protein treatments are used to fortify the hair against breakage from regular manipulation, detangling and styling. It is advised that transitioners operate on a 6 week protein treatment schedule, this of course varies from person to person. Find out what works for you. Always rinse off ANY and ALL traces of your product thoroughly. Please note: if you would like to use henna, it is advisable to use body art henna on relaxed/ transitioning hair.

- Cleansing -
Some people wash their hair as often as once a week where others stick to their once a month rule. Whatever your preference, make sure you use a sulphate free shampoo. Alternatively, water-down your regular shampoo to minimize the drying effect. Pre-pooing is essential in preventing extreme moisture loss (douse your hair is a natural oil of choice- coconut or olive oil - let the oil sit for no less than an hour, proceed to shampoo). Be sure to rinse out ALL traces of the shampoo. Be sure to follow up a with a conditioning session.

- Trimming -
As you transition, you will find that you will tire of dealing with the two textures i.e. the relaxed ends and the new growth. You can start trimming off the relaxed ends slowly as your new growth comes in. Some people think that just because your hair is natural there is no need to trim.. this is a myth! The ends of your hair can get knots and split ends no matter how well you take care of your hair, this means you have to trim your ends every 6 weeks if possible.

- Styling -
Low manipulation has to be adhered to when transitioning. Avoid styles that cause stress to your line of demarcation, ponytails should beheld loosely and always style your hair with a gentle hand. Many transitioners opt to put in braided extensions or weaves during their transitioning period. Heed caution though, over-dependence on these protective styling methods could lead to subsequent traction alopecia. During breathing breaks (no braids or extensions) you have the choice of roller sets, braid outs, twist outs, and flexi sets, as they require little manipulation to maintain the styles and they blend the two textures seamlessly. If your new growth is extremely course, soak the hair with your spritz mix and seal it with a cap for about 20min, this will leave your hair softer and more manageable during styling.

ALWAYS sleep with a satin/silk bonnet or headwrap. Cotton pillowcases reek havoc on hair, especially transitioning hair, this is because of the friction/ rubbing action that tears away at your follicles causing breakage and nasty split ends.

Product Recommendations for Transitioners
  • Organic Root Stimulator Aloe Shampoo - This shampoo leaves hair very soft and you only need to use a little to make sure your hair is clean
  • LustraSilk Cholesterol Deep Conditioner - This product is cheap and works so well. You get a bucketful for your money and it works to make your hair soft and strong at the same time
  • Organics Shea Butter Hair Lotion for kids - Slip, candy scent and great moisture, this product does it all. Can also be used for detangling because it has such great slip
  • Bobby Pins - Updos are a transitioners best friend, best hairstyles for ladies who are transitioning is to start with a braid/twistout then create updo's with pins
  • ORS Replenishing Conditioner - This is a great deep conditioner that comes as a god-send to most naturals
Ask any questions to or leave them in the comments
S[he] says... said...

Thanks for this much needed post. I'm unwilling to let go of my five year old mane of relaxed hair.

I'm thinking about transitioning from my relaxed hair to dreadlocks. I have had a weave for about three months and I hope I have grown out about five, maybe seven inches of natural hair. Is the relaxed to dread locked hair transition care regimen the same as above?

Imani said...

Always something new to learn on this blog-even though i've been a natural for most of my life...thanks ladies.

Shiks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary said...

Hi ladies, no problemo.. you know we got you.

@S(he) says, that's some wild growth spurt your chasing! 5-7 inches in 3months seems highly unlikely, but if its in your genetics more power to you you lucky beast. Bear this in mind, if you are opting for wax dreads, there will be certain limitations with regards to cleansing and moisturizing. You will need a totally different regimen. We would be happy to help you out with that via a post or email

@Imani, awww snap, de nada

@Shiks, thanks for reiterating the points we stated, best of luck on your transition. About the reconstructer, too much hard protein over such short periods of time will reek more harm than good on your natural growth (rendering it hard and brittle) go easy on it hun.

As with any and all shampoos, we always advise our readers not to shampoo their hair with undiluted or direct shampoo. That's treason. We recommended ORS because it is moisturizing and clarifying (removes the build up of products from your hair and scalp). As mentioned, the duration is upon ones discretion, however, if you know us well, you'll know we aren't too keen on regular shampooing, which is why we recommended the pre-poo sessions. Do you pre-poo? I would suggest you pick the habit if you shampoo your hair on a weekly basis, trust me you will notice the difference. So remember, go easy on the protein, especially since you are dealing with 7months of growth and pre-poo before your shampoo sessions. Thanks for sharing dear :)

Anonymous said...

I recently transitioned to afro/natural hair but.........I have REALLY REALLY tough (and thick) hair. I mean can-break-an-afro-comb type of tough. I have tried all sorts of things to try and soften it (including following some of your regimens from the blog), but so far nothing seems to work! I'm so desperate now I'm contemplating texturizing it just to make it more manageable - although ideally I would really want to keep my hair 100% natural and chemical-free. Can you suggest/advice anything that I should try to make it softer/more manageable or should I just be patient and a miracle will happen??

atieno said...

i finally got the courage to big chop yesterday. im surprised that i am not shocked since hair has been a very big influence on my life. i think that black women (and it doesn't matter where from) have let go of their lives to hair.
now i am wondering why i put up with the scalp burns every 6-8 weeks. At this point in my hair/spiritual journey, i feel extremely dense that i would spend that kind of money to damage my scalp , and then later try and repair my hair with expensive product considering the fact that i am a non-working student. After the kind of burns i got in October this year and a bleeding scalp from it all, there was no going back for me. Ladies, being natural may not be a life changing event but for me, my wallet has never been happier and my scalp and my sings.

Kurly said...

@Atieno, we thank you for your comment. You brought more than a smile to our faces :D

Heather said...

You can't grow five to seven inches in three months. Over the course of a year the maximum most people get is 3 to 6 inches. For dreadlock you would need to get rid of the relaxed hair because you can't successfully twist relaxed hair...but you tell us as this post is from June-11, how did you do it?

ari_b said...

i read this i think ill try it out because i havent relaxed my hair in 10 weeks thanks for the advice i thnik im ready to switch

Vicki said...

I am trying to go natural and have not relaxed my hair in almost five months. Is it okay to use a pressing comb on my natural growth?

Nyachomba said...

Hey...using a pressing comb is fine on your natural growth..just make sure to use heat protectant because you can easily get heat damage

Tanya Kasichana said...

Reading this for the first time and kinda feeling at home... I've been transitioning since November 012, started my journey with doing the Afro kinky braids for the second time (and since it was Xmas), but this time round protecting my hairline. Removed the braids right after new years (sema laziness) and since then braids and the salon have been a no-no... I've been shampooing, deep conditioning my hair and air-drying, learned how to make flat-twists too (so cool)... Haven't started to use products yet but i now got 3.5in growth and I've been trimming 2in of my relaxed hair for the past two months.. well, I'm now rocking some kinda Afro, moisturizing everyday and sealing with olive oil or just normal DAX but I'm still not comfy with the natural length of hair i got though it all looks natural... so yeah.. would really love your help...

Anonymous said...

want to start co washing at home, but how to wash it so it doesn't tangle much and then when and how do you comb it?

warigia'ing said...

Hi maybe you guys should write an article recommending places to buy products for natural hair or better yet start selling them I would buy from you especially sulphate free shampoo I can't find any in the market and shea butter + eco styler gel

monicah said...

Can you guys write an article on where to buy stuff for natural hair or start selling them I would buy from you I can't find sulphate free shampoo, eco styler gel and shea butter and other items

Gloria Mulwa said...

so i have finally cut of all my perm hair and now i am all natural with about 1 year worth of growth... now i want to start making my own shea butter creams. my question is simple...... where can i get undoubtedly pure unrefined Shea butter i tried to buy some but when the delivery came i was sure the Shea butter was not right.... so where can i get the pure stuff?

Latest Instagrams

© Kurly Kichana. Design by FCD.