Transitioning natural hair can be a very challenging process, especially during the early stages when you’re tackling two completely different textures at once. Ed’s note: I wish someone told me the road would be rough, but that it would soon become better once I went through my own transition process years ago! Here are some tips I wished I’d known then that I’m imparting to you, dear transitioner, to help you on your own natural hair journey:
Tips for Transitioning Natural Hair
Expectation vs. Reality: Don’t let it get the best of you
Before you even began your transition, you probably thought at one point that the process couldn’t be that hard. After all, it’s just a matter of growing out your hair, right? However, at this point, you’ve probably realized that it’s actually much more complex than you thought.
As your hair grows, it still needs to be nurtured. Continue to carry out your hair care regimen, but be sure to include deep conditioning treatments in the mix.
Curly hair is typically naturally dry, and deep conditioning treatments can help with moisture. One of my absolute favorites is Nexxus Humectress Restoring Masque. Once I applied this to my hair, my strands felt like butter. This masque provides deep moisturization to repair dry, damaged hair.
Employing a hair masque or deep conditioner into your routine can also make the detangling process much easier. Rule of thumb: To prevent breakage, always detangle transitioning hair while wet or under your shower head using a wide-tooth comb.
Start researching new products
Take this from a product junkie: Now is the best time to figure out which products to use on your natural hair. Building a natural hair care routine is quite simple to do (and also very easy to overcomplicate!). No need to raid your nearest drugstore or beauty supply store: Ask around first, and try samples from friends with similar hair textures. Then, start researching and testing out new shampoos and conditioners.
Always remember that moisture is key, so look for products that help retain moisture. Suave Professionals Coconut Milk Infusion Deep Moisture Shampoo and Suave Professionals Coconut Milk Infusion Deep Moisture Conditioner is a current staple of mine as it provides weightless hydration to my hair.
Also to keep in mind: Out with the old and in with the new. Your relaxed hair is now a thing of the past, so while you’re not ignoring your relaxed ends, observe how your growing natural hair reacts to new products because this is the texture you will now be working with once your transition is complete.
If you’re planning to do the “Big Chop,” decide on the best time to do it
Some natural hair transitioners opt for the Big Chop—a.k.a. cutting off almost all of your relaxed lengths, leaving only your new natural growth—and some don’t. The choice is yours, and if you have the guts to rock a cute teeny weeny afro, make sure you get a cut that complements your face. Wait until your hair grows to a decent length so a stylist can cut your hair into the shape you want and that you can live with for the next few months or so.
Protective styles are your BFF!
The ballerina bun was my BFF, but there are several stylish protective hairstyles to try. Try out space buns, halo twists, or box braids. Protective styles are extremely helpful for transitioning natural hair as they hide straight ends, and are meant to be worn throughout the week (or sometimes longer) without daily maintenance. Since your hair is fragile during your transition because of the two textures (relaxed ends and natural roots), it’s best to keep your hands out of your hair on a daily basis, as constant combing, brushing or manipulation can contribute to breakage, especially when hair is dried.
Trim ends more often
Another friend of yours? A pair of scissors. Oftentimes as you transition, the ends of your hair can become frayed, brittle, and uneven. Keep your ends trimmed, and think of it this way: Each trim is a cut closer to your natural hair texture.
How is your transition to natural hair going? Which of these tips are most helpful for you?