Do you want to stop processing your hair with relaxers, keratin treatments, or other chemical processes to keep it straight? Maybe your hair is damaged from all the processing and you want to take a break, or perhaps you are in the mood to rock your natural texture.
Whatever your reasoning, transitioning to your natural hair is a journey, and it can be hard to know where to begin. Hopefully, with this blog post, we can help you figure out how to start transitioning to your natural hair.
A LITTLE LESSON ON CHEMICAL STRAIGHTENERS & TREATMENTS
If you are still weighing in on whether you want to transition to natural hair or you are trying to decide if you would like to use chemical straighteners and treatments, a thorough blog was written on it so you can be educated on the topic.
But do not worry, if you have not read that blog, here is a quick summary of the different treatments and how they affect your hair.
Chemically processing your hair will have long-term and potentially damaging effects. Because of this, many women have chosen to stop processing their hair or have never even attempted to. A relaxer and keratin hair treatments are some of the ways to chemically straighten your hair.
A relaxer will stretch the natural curl pattern or tightly curled hair depending on the strength and the timing of the chemical. The relaxer is a creamy paste that gets applied directly on to the hair avoiding the scalp.
Keratin hair treatments, also known as Brazilian blowouts, are a semi-permanent hair straightening treatment that involves treating your hair for a straight texture that lasts 3 to 5 months.
The difference between a relaxer and keratin treatment is that keratin treatments are not permanent. They typically wash out after a few months. The two treatments also use different ingredients that produce different results.
Although chemical straighteners and treatments can flatten your hair very nicely, the biggest con to them is that they can cause hair damage, especially depending on how long you have been using them.
Hair breakage after a permanent hair straightening treatment is very common. The chemical solution works by damaging your hair so it lies flat or releases its natural curl.
Some people want to transition because the upkeep of chemical straighteners and treatments can be expensive, some people want to embrace their natural curls, and others just want a change.
Whatever the reason, transitioning can be a liberating experience and there are only two ways to reset the damage: the big chop or a complete transition to natural hair.
THE BIG CHOP
The easiest way to transition to your natural hair is to do a big chop. When you do a big chop, all or almost all of your permed hair will be cut off. This is essentially your reset button because by chopping off the hair that has been chemically treated, you can start over with new and natural hair growth.
This method is for those who would like to get it over with and not have to deal with the effort that a full transition would entail.
With the big chop, you can cut your hair, create a new hair care routine, and just wait until your healthy natural hair grows in.
Others need a method that does not involve such a big decision with such a drastic change. For those, there is the journey of transitioning.
Transitioning to natural hair has been pretty mainstream lately and as a result, there are a lot more people talking about their journeys and the things that worked for them.
A TRANSITIONING STORY
Nichole decided to do a big chop after dealing with heat damage as a teenager. Her story is similar to many women with Type 3 and 4 hair, who are scared to make that transition and had a challenge figuring out what products and techniques worked best for their hair type. On her Instagram account, she wrote a long-form caption that said:
“I have been natural since freshman year of high school. I never had a perm, but I was texturized when I was younger and I did have a lot of heat damage. When I first got the big chop I left the salon devastated. Though I had spent time transitioning, I had not taken into account shrinkage.
I was made fun of in school for a bit because I didn’t quite know how to style this kind of lusciousness yet. Not properly styling, using the wrong products and not getting frequent enough trims caused my natural hair to break often and not flourish to its full potential.
As time went by, I became more knowledgeable of the natural hair care journey and industry. I came across many different products, and women and girls sharing their own tips and tricks caring for their own natural hair. But combining new products with mimicking different routines still didn’t lead my hair to its full potential. And here’s why: those products and routines were not ideal for MY hair.
In my opinion, the best tip for a successful hair care journey is to learn and understand YOUR hair as much as possible.
Once I shifted the research process (a stage I feel every person goes through during the natural hair journey) to learning about my hair, I found better products, styles, and routines more suitable for me.
I asked questions to as many hairstylists I came across about their experience with natural hair, I watched Youtubers who had my hair type or similar and I researched products they and other publications recommended. It saved me a lot of time and money.
Since I have discovered I am a 3C/4A curly gal with low porosity hair that lacks moisture, especially on the ends and scalp. So, I find products and styles that nourish those qualities of my hair.
I also pledged to get trims more frequently, which is once every 6 months instead of once a year to avoid breakage. The relationship I have with my hair has drastically changed since. It’s more Love/Accept than Love/Hate lol I know my hair well - I know what it needs when it needs it.”
TIPS TO MAKE TRANSITIONING EASIER
Find a Curly Hair Stylist
It is important that you find a hairstylist that you enjoy and that is knowledgeable about going natural. Your stylist can help you decide whether to do the big chop or to cut your hair as you grow it out.
Plus a stylist can give you an idea of your styling options by guessing how much new growth you will have when your natural hair transition process is complete. You can use Google to find one or tray DevaCurl’s Salon Stylist Search.
Give Yourself Time & Learn Your Hair
You are definitely going to go through an adjustment period, everyone does. You just have to keep in mind that you and you are on a journey. It may take a couple of weeks for you to fall in love with your new look and to adjust to your new natural hair routine. You just have to be patient and look forward to the future of luscious natural hair.
During this transitional period, you should really take the time to learn about your hair type and texture. This will help you understand your hair and help you take better care of it after it has transitioned.
This period of transition is a great time to plan your new hair care routine. Since you are learning more about your hair and how to keep it healthy, you can look for #hairspiration and look for ways to achieve it. You can also research different products your hair may like so that you have a whole routine planned out for when you are ready to start it.
Keep Heat Styling to a Minimum
Heat styling is 100% a no-no when transitioning to natural hair. We all get tempted, but please resist the urge! The heat damage on top of the damage your hair already endured from the chemicals will not help to make your transition any easier. If you must use heat, try using the low settings or get your hands on a Reverse-Air Dryer since it uses half the heat of a blow dryer. But, you will be better off in the end if you just try to get away with no heat while your hair is in the transition phase.
Get Regular Trims
While getting trims is always important for the growth of your hair, it is especially important when you are transitioning. Making sure you go get regular trims will ensure you are getting rid of any damage or any breakage you may have. This will allow for healthy new growth in a timely fashion.
Take Great Care of Your Hair
You want to make sure that when you are in the transition phase that you do not slack off from your hair care routine. Being that your hair is very fragile in this stage you want to be extra gentle and make sure that your hair is getting the attention and moisture it needs. You may want to stick with a consistent washing and conditioning schedule to keep your hair moisturized and healthy.
Use Accessories to Your Advantage
There are plenty of hair accessories out there to hide new growth or to create cute simple styles, you just have to use them to your advantage. Start adding scarves, headbands, and cute clips to your collection so that when you are bored you can try something fun but that is not styling intensive.
Protective Styles Can Be Your Best Friend
Sometimes trying to style your hair when it is transitioning can be difficult or too time-consuming, that is when you cue in the protective styles.
If you haven’t heard already, protective styles are specific hairstyles that are meant to limit the stress of environmental factors on natural hair by keeping the ends of hair tucked away.
Some (of the many) protective styles include: wigs, box braids, locs, buns, two-strand twists, and cornrows.
These styles are great when you are transitioning so that you can protect your natural hair allowing it to grow and so that you can do something new if you are not feeling your new growth.
Plus protective styling also takes away a lot of the extra styling hassle (like time and effort) that comes with having to care for your transitioning natural hair.
Share your progress so that you can visually see the steps in your process and so other people can be empowered to maybe try their own natural hair transition.
Transitioning to natural hair allows you to understand your hair and learn how to best take care of it. With this new knowledge, you can embrace your natural hair in whatever way you please.