How to Transition from Relaxed to Natural Hair.

I decided to do this post because lately I've been getting asked this question quite a lot by ladies who have decided that they want to ditch the relaxer and take care of their own natural hair.

Chief amongst these questions is - 'Do I have to cut off my hair now? a.k.a doing the 'Big Chop'
My answer always is (and still is) cutting your hair immediately  is a matter of choice and individual comfort level. Some people may transition for 6 months and chop off all their relaxed ends because they're comfortable enough to rock a short look ( or a Teeny Weeny Afro a.k.a. TWA). Some others will not hear of it and would rather transition for 1 - 2 years, trimming off the relaxed ends every other month or so till they get to a comfortable enough length.

Either way, the following are tips that helped me on my own 9 month transition journey and which I know have helped quite a number of people:

1. Build a Regimen: Consistency is the key to attaining any goals. You will need to develop a simple regimen which is knowing what you will be doing to your hair and how often. Too often I hear people say things like ' My hair is damaged, I just want to cut it and go natural and I know it will be better'. Thing is, if you didn't care for your hair while relaxed and it became damaged; going natural is not going to automatically solve all your hair problems. Daily disciplines will give you the success you desire.

2. Stay away from direct heat: There will be a  temptation to use flat irons regularly to 'blend' both textures in by straightening the new growth - thing is by doing this regularly, you run the risk of damaging the new growth which is the natural hair you want to maintain! Safer alternatives to styling with direct heat are styles that require indirect heat (bonnet dryers) or just air drying. These could include braid outs, roller sets, rod sets etc. These styles help to blend both textures in because of the curls you get from 'setting' the hair.

3. Increase your moisturizing deep conditioning treatments: Your hair will need all the moisture it can get. Deep conditioning weekly or fortnightly with a super moisturizing deep conditioning treatment is a sure way to hydrate the hair, particularly when you use heat - either a steamer or a warm bonnet dryer. The heat raises the cuticles of the hair, allowing the conditioner to penetrate through to the cortex of your hair, nourishing and moisturizing  from a deeper level rather than just superficially. Remember to always rinse off your conditioner with cool water as this will help seal the cuticles that have been raised by the heat.

4. Incorporate more protein treatments into your regimen: When transitioning, your hair tends to shed more and then the line of demarcation (i.e. where the relaxed hair meets the natural hair) begins to get weaker. Protein treatments help with shedding and also strengthen the line of demarcation so you don't have breakage and split ends that begin to travel up the shaft of the new growth beneath.

 Protein conditioners always have ingredients such as 'Hydrolized wheat protein, Hydrolized silk protein, Silk amino acids, keratin, cholestrol, etc. Protein treatments can either be light (and so can be used weekly like the Aphogee 2 minute reconstructor and the ORS replenishing conditioner) Medium (and can be used once a month like the ORS Mayonnaise) or Heavy ( to be used only every 6 - 8 weeks like the Aphogee 2 step treatment).

Remember to always follow up your protein treatment with a moisturizing deep conditioner to give your hair the balance it needs otherwise you'll end up with stiff hair. There are some products though like the ORS replenishing conditioner that are already a balance between moisture and protein and so can be used on its own.

5. Do everything in sections: I can't stress this enough. When you're transitioning, your hair begins to tangle particularly when it is wet. Separate the hair into workable sections (4 - 6 or more depending on your length) and work with each section, combing gently. Not only will you lose less hair this way, you will save yourself countless headaches and get less frustrated dealing with 2 different textures on your head.

6. Incorporate more protective styling: Braids, weaves etc, are a great way to let the hair be for a number of weeks so it's given the chance to grow in peace. That doesn't mean you should braid your hair or fix a weave and completely forget to take care of it!

You should hydrate your hair daily by spritzing a water based moisturizer all over and if you have a weave installed, then raise your tracks and show your hair some love!
Trust me, that is what will make the difference from having dry, brittle hair that is breaking off when you remove your braids/weaves. I'm sure there have been times you've removed your braids/weaves and combed your hair and you have hair strands literally covering every surface around you? That's what happens when the hair has become too dry - it snaps off. A good braid sheen will work or you can mix up something in your spritz bottle - I usually have water, aloe vera juice, glycerine, leave in conditioner and a little oil in my spritz bottle.

7. Moisturize and seal daily - apply a water based daily moisturizer to your hair and follow up with a little oil to lock the moisture in. This helps soften the new growth and keeps the hair nice and soft. My go to moisturizer of choice while transitioning was the S Curl No Drip Activator - It was amazing on my new growth I tell you!

 Another thing that really helped me was applying castor oil to my scalp every other day - the oil further softened the hair and in areas where my hair had literally fallen off; it grew back in thicker and fuller. Below is a video by Sunshyne at Hairlicious showing how to moisturize and seal.

8. Be patient with your hair: Yanking a comb through your hair, pulling at your hair, brushing too harshly etc will be counterproductive to the goals you want to achieve. Be good to your hair and it will be good to you!

Hope these help! Will be back later in the week with pictures and a run through of the Salon Day out which was fun!


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