Top Notch Tips For Transitioning

August 5, 2014 in HAIR CARE, UNCONDITIONED ROOTS by mkabba

Natural Hair Transitioning Guide


It’s becoming more apparent that over the course of the last few years African women returning back to their natural tresses has moved from a rarity to a mainstream movement. Every day I receive engaging questions from women worldwide asking about the best way to make the transition from relaxed/permed hair to natural hair and general hair care enquiries. Okay ladies so you’ve decided to swear off creamy crack for all eternity and “go natural.” Freeing your hair from chemical relaxers for a natural head of kinks, curls and coils is an adventure. Let the fun begin!

Transitioning for some can be as easy as a walk in the park, but for others it’s regarded as a test in commitments and dedication. Making the transition from chemically treated hair should be an exciting and creative time for you.  But, there are still those who will oppose your choice however being strong in your stance of choosing healthier hair above all else will see you through. Mark my words first they’ll ask you WHY you’re doing it but later they’ll ask you HOW you DID it! And, there is the fear of the unknown as many women literally don’t remember far enough back to know what their natural hair texture is like. HOWEVER with the right tips, advice and hairducation transitioning can be done with very little stress and much ease.

If you’re having trouble/doubts sticking with your commitment here are some of my Top Notch Transitioning Tips that will help you make it through your transitioning phase with minimal frustration!


1. Mentally prepare yourself for some difficult days – Ladies there will be some days whereby you feel distant and or disconnected with your hair and some rocky roads to tread. However a genuine LOVE and UNDERSTANDING your hair will rid you of such newly found feelings and difficulty. As your hair begins to flourish and you get more new growth your hair may require more management and care as detangling may take more time and styling may be deemed a little more difficult as you’re dealing with two very DIFFERENT textures, oh and don’t forget the annoyance that is humidity! Simply take your time, be extra gentle with your hair especially when it’s wet, reduce the use of heat on your hair and make sure you are using heat protectants and leave in conditioner regularly to help combat any unwanted frizz.

2. Set realistic expectations – This tip right here is KEY! Do not compare your chapter one to someone else’s chapter six! Set realistic expectations knowing that it takes good hair care practices, patience and consistency to achieve that healthy lengthy hair you’re aiming for. Also don’t set an initial time goal just yet as you don’t know what the future (next couple of months) may hold for your hair as in the next 4/5 months into your journey you may develop a profound love of tapered fro’s and decide to rock a TRENDY cut for a couple months. You don’t have to know when you’ll rock your 100% natural hair right away! Give yourself some time, about 5-8 months, by then you should have enough growth to get excited. Don’t expect natural hair to behave like straightened hair either! You’ll have to learn different ways of dealing with your hair to get satisfactory results. Otherwise, you can experience a lot of frustration when your natural curls seem to be “unruly.” They’re not unruly; they’re simply doing what they naturally do! Once you accept that your hair is frizzy, untamed, puffy or “big,” you’ll be better able to work with it instead of against it.

3. Find your Go-To Transitioning style! – The aim is to blend the two very different textures of hair you’ll have into ONE. Try styles such as Bantu Knot Outs, Twist Outs, buns and or updos.

4. Drink LOTS of water – While the rate of growth and texture/hair type are genetic, you can positively impact how your hair grows with proper diet. You should be drinking at least half your body weight in ounces of water each day. I am talking about straight, pure water! This will also prove beneficial for the health and appearance of your skin. With this you can aim to do protein treatments once every 4-6 weeks to keep your hair strong.


5. Tend to your new growth versus the relaxed hair once you’ve grown several inches – Once you’ve gained a couple inches of natural new growth to your hair start treating your entire head of hair as if it were natural! The things you did to manage your relaxed hair are not the same things you will do when you are fully natural. Once you have more than 2/3 inches of new growth, you have to intently start acting like a natural. Incorporating protein treatments, hot oil treatments, protective styling, pre-conditioning, and deep conditioning with a hooded dryer or steamer are examples of things you’ll need to start incorporating into your routine. At this stage getting familiar with hair typing can benefit you and your hair journey as it allows for a greater understanding of your hair needs. You will not know your natural curl pattern entirely until your hair has fully grown out in its natural state, also you pattern may change over time so be weary to this. But knowing your hair type will help you better choose products and styling methods and understanding how to adjust what you see others do to fit your hair type. 

6. Expect some breakage and shedding – as you’re now dealing with two completely DIFFERENT hair textures, especially as one is chemically altered and the other natural you should expect some shedding and breakage predominantly from the relaxed/permed ends that are intended to get snipped of anyway.  If you gracefully make it through transitioning your hair without experiencing shedding and breakage, PLEASE SHARE YOUR SECRET! Many transitioners notice the ends of their hair are a lot thinner after several inches of new growth. That is not uncommon as the point of demarcation can be weak and vulnerable to breakage. Do not get discouraged by this, keep pushing forward and get ready for all of your new, beautiful natural hair that is growing! My advice would be to trim your straight relaxed ends at the rate your hair grows, aim to trim your ends every 3-4 weeks. Pay attention to how much new growth you have every month and cut away the relaxed ends as an exchange. Take pictures monthly to help document your progression as sometimes at may been your hair is not growing due to our hairs innate ability to shrink, so photographic evidence can be a solid reminder and motivational tool that your hair is progressing.


7. Incorporate Protective styling into your regimen – Braids and twists are your friend! When transitioning, it is important to preserve the health of your hair and protective styles like braids and twist-outs are a great option. Consider box braids instead of smaller braids like micro-braids (they often take your hair out). Besides, these two styles are also a great way to get in the habit of wearing natural styles.

Two strand twists and Flat twists – these are great as they require minimal manipulation to the hair and fuse other textures well, that being the new growth and relaxed ends. This style hides the line of demarcation between the relaxed ends and new growth. Flat twists are very effective protective styles, elegant and tidy. Protective styles allow for you to retain length, usually masking the difference in texture between your new growth and the permed hair and give you length while you are growing in enough natural hair to feel comfortable making the “big chop”.

8. Use protective styling with caution – All naturals will tell you that protective styling is a must. And while that is true, too much of any good thing can be bad. Your hair needs breaks from heat styling and your ends will thank you for tucking them in sometimes for protection from the elements (hence the term “protective styling”), but your scalp needs to breathe and your strands need to be free sometimes too. It’s all about balance.

9. Take EXTRA Care when Maintaining relaxed ends – If you choose to keep your relaxed hair while you are growing in your natural hair, Whilst transitioning and retaining relaxed ends please be aware that your hair is more fragile than normal while making the transition.  You want to minimise the amount of heat you are using to style it, minimise hair manipulation, and make sure you keep it well moisturised and TRIM those ends frequently. Use a satin/silk scarf at night as this will prevent your hair from losing moisture and reduce breakage from the friction of rubbing your head on the pillow, alternatively invest in a satin/silk pillowcase. Also, if you are trying to preserve a twist-out, braid-out or rod-set curls, try the pineapple.


10. Only detangle when hair is wet – ALWAYS detangle your hair when it is wet and slippery saturated in conditioner, either finger detangle which is most effective as you can personally feel the knots and tangles and detangle your hair with MINIMAL snaps and snags. Or you can detangle with a wide tooth comb. Start from the ends/tips and gently work your way up.

11. Limit the use of heat on your hair – While you may choose to camouflage early new growth by flat ironing, it is important to know that the repeated use of heat on your hair is damaging. Instead of using a curling iron for waves and body try hair curlers. Also, consider roller sets, flexi-rods and bantu knots as a way of creating curls versus daily heat from styling tools. You don’t want to heat damage your natural hair before you even get to wear it!

12. Be patient – I cannot stress this enough. PATIENCE IS KEY! Don’t compare your hair to anyone else’s. Everyone’s hair grows at his or her own pace. Don’t set unrealistic goals of length; take your time and enjoy the journey. There may be times when it seems that your hair is simply not growing. It can be frustrating to try and deal with two different textures. You may contemplate returning to relaxed hair because that’s what you’re familiar with and it seems so much easier. However, if you’re really committed to your natural texture, some patience will be required. Your hair is probably growing an average of ½ inch per month, just like everyone else’s. Your curly new growth may shrink up, making it appear as if your hair isn’t gaining any length BUT IT IS!

13. Comparison is the thief of joy! Your hair is unique – This is one of the key lessons I’ve learned! Finding what works best for you is about trial and error, what works for one naturalista may not work for another. Don’t be discouraged as there’s a world of products out there and there’s a special one specifically for YOU! Commit to what works for you.

14. DEEP Condition – Ladies conditioning is key! It is vital to frequently condition and detangle your hair while transitioning. The health of your hair is central to your hair journey; lengthy hair is nothing without HEALTH! Consistent conditioning is a great way to improve and maintain the health of your hair while detangling your locks while conditioning helps prevent knots and tangles which in turn prevent split ends, breakage and shedding.

15. Incorporate hot oil treatments into your washday regimen – Hot oil treatments are a great and easy way to maintain proper moisture in your hair. Aim to do a hot oil treatment once every 3-4 weeks to prevent drying of the hair and retain moisture.

16. Keep your scalp CLEAN! A healthy scalp means healthy hair – While transitioning make sure to keep your scalp clean. Keeping your scalp clear to prevent against hair loss, toxic build-up, and other scalp problems. Most of all routinely cleansing is a great way to stimulate hair growth. Aim to cleanse your scalp anywhere between every two days to every two weeks, dependent on your lifestyle and hair requirements.

Woman washing her hair

17. Keep your hair moisturised! – To avoid breakage and difficulty maintain moisture in your hair. Nothing beats water when it comes to moisturising hair, ensure to moisturise and seal your hair daily by lightly spritzing your hair with water and using a natural oil of your choice (such as coconut oil, olive oil and or jojoba oil) to seal in the moisture. Your hair will thank you!!

18. Be gentle and treat your hair with CARE- This is a time to take special care of your hair. The point where your natural texture meets your straight hair (it’s called the line of demarcation) is the weakest part of your hair. Take your time when you detangle and style your hair. Don’t tug at your crown and when detangling take your time. Remember you will get out what you put in.It is important to keep your hair moisturized and not excessively pull with tight ponytail styles or with brushing too harshly. Use a wide tooth comb to detangle when wet and invest in a denman styling brush for detangling your hair when dry. Exercise great care where the relaxed and natural hair meets. The place where your new growth meets the relaxed hair is especially fragile. If you experience any breakage, chances are high that this will be where it takes place. This is why too much heat styling and manipulation should be avoided. Instead of constantly flat ironing your new growth to match the straight texture, try wet sets and curly styles that make the relaxed hair match your new curls instead.

19. Protect your edges – Avoid transitioning styles that put a lot of tension on you temples and the nape of your neck. The hair there is usually finer, thinner and more delicate!

20. Gradually CUT your straight damaged ends! Say farewell to damaged ends – As your hair grows, take the time to clip any damaged ends. Once your hair is completely natural you will able to clip your ends more infrequently. Depending on the length you had to start with, get a good trim each month. Remember to use hair shears and not regular scissors!

21. Take the “fate” of your hair in your hands! Love & Learn you Unconditioned Roots – Be conscious of your decisions when it comes to your hair. Take the time to read product labels. A good rule of thumb is to avoid hair products with counter-productive agents like sulfates. If you’re not sure about an ingredient look it up. Knowledge is power.

22. It takes commitment – Healthy natural hair doesn’t come by osmosis. You have to stay committed to the process. Ladies with a generous amount of PATIENCE, good hair care practice, consistency and COMMITMENT your hair will THRIVE!

Remember these tips are designed to help you on your hair transformation to nurture your naturally curly, kinky, coily hair! Remember the journey takes time but with patience and a hand you’ll get there!Try not to allow yourself to get frustrated along the way. Re-learning your hair is a process and it will take time. If you haven’t managed your natural texture since you were a child, it may be a bit overwhelming at first. But, remember to be patient and don’t give up. You’ll make it! Just remember that your hair is growing and it’s growing in healthy and strong. Before you know it, you’ll have a head full of natural curls that won’t rely on chemicals or heat styling to get you ready for the day.

Happy Healthy Hair Journey Naturalites!

Ladies if you have any questions regarding transitioning and already established natural hair, or simply have a transitioning or natural hair care tip that you would like to share kindly leave a comment below in the comment section!