Going Natural: How to Transition to Natural Hair

Transitioning is the process of "growing out" relaxed or chemically processed hair and is a good alternative to Big Chopping for those of us that are shy of the hair shears and scissors. However, it takes a lot of care to look after two contrasting textures as you need to adapt your haircare regime to meet the needs of both hair types as well as find styles that mask the different textures.

Although it can be exciting starting your natural hair journey, transitioning can be a long and lengthy process which many women with little or no experience of natural hair can find testing and difficult. So I have put together this guide for anyone contemplating transitioning or anyone currently transitioning to help you along so there are less hiccups and more ease in your natural hair journey!

Top haircare tips for transitioning
  • Set yourself a goal. How long do you want your natural hair to be before you remove all your relaxed hair? This will help determine how long you will be transitioning for (F.Y.I. hair typically grows at half an inch or 1.25cm a month) and also it makes easier to formulate a plan to achieve that goal.
  • Keep track of your progress. This is optional but I honestly think this works. It's not always easy to see your progress without looking back and seeing where you started from. For me I journalled my progress with this blog but you can keep it as simply as periodically taking photos of your styles and hair length. Because I could see the progress I was making monthly it help me not give in and stay motivated.
  • Lose the heat. I know it's a lot to ask and I remember for me using a flat iron was really convenient but when it came to finally cutting off my relaxed ends, my natural hair wasn't as healthy as it could be because it was severely heat damaged. Do yourself a favour and get your natural hair journey off to the best start possible, lose the heat and protect your natural and relaxed hair. Remember the aim is to keep both hair types healthy until your natural hair reaches your target length.
  • Be gentle. The point where your natural hair meets your relaxed hair is called the line of demarcation. The hair strand is very fragile at this point so be very gentle when styling, manipulating and looking after you hair. Also be very careful with the hair around your temple and nape as this hair is also quite weak. Make sure you use styling methods that are not tight around the hairline or roots of the hair
  • Conditioner is your new best friend. Deep condition weekly (after shampooing) this will keep your relaxed hair healthy and moisturised and stimulate growth of your natural hair. De-tangle your hair whilst wet with conditioner with a wide tooth comb.
  • Tackle dry transitioning tresses with pre-poos, SLS-free shampoos, conditioners and moisturisers. Pre-poo hair with a conditioner or oil so that when you shampoo you lose less moisture. Sulphate-free shampoo (or SLS free) is milder on the hair then regular shampoo and will leave it less dry. Always follow up a shampoo with a deep conditioner to replace moisture to clarified hair. And finally lock in moisture in to transitioning and natural locks by applying an oil or butter after a water based moisturiser or leave-in.
  • Trim hair regularly.

Hairstyle ideas for transitioners

Bantu knot outs
Braid outs
Braids and Braid Extensions
Twists and Twist Extensions
Using Accessories (Headbands/Scarves)
Strawsets and Rod sets

Recommended products
To be honest, I believe there is no one set of products that will work for everybody but I just wanted to compile a list of products that come highly recommended for transitioners as a starting point to finding out what works well for you as an individual.

  • Shampoo (SLS-Free) - Australian Organics Intensive Care Shampoo, Giovanni, Kinky Curly or Body Shop Rainforest Moisture Shampoo
  • Deep conditioner - Organic Root Stimulator Olive Oil Replenishing Conditioner and Jessicurl Too Shea Deep Conditioning Treatment
  • Moisturiser/Leave-in - Giovanni Direct Leave-In or Cantu Shea Butter Leave In
  • Ingredients - Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Transitioning kits - Shea Moisture Hair Repair & Transition Kit, Carol's Daughter Transitioning Kit 1-2-3 and Curls Transitioning Diva Kit

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