What is transitioning?
Transitioning is gradually changing from one state of condition to another. In this case I’m referring to the gradual change from relaxed/heat/color damaged hair to healthy natural hair. During transitioning you eliminate all chemical processes from your regimen to allow your hair to grow out gradually.
You have two choices when it comes to transitioning, either you big chop (remove relaxed or damaged ends), or you do a long-term transition. There are pros and cons associated with both methods, so I would suggest that you weigh each method carefully to decide which will work for you. Here’s an article highlighting the pros and cons of both paths.
How do I transition?
- Make the decision.
The first step in the transition process is to make a mental decision about going natural. I list this as my first tip because for me transitioning was much more than letting my hair return to its natural state. It was a sense of acceptance and a change from unhealthy chemicals in my hair care routine. Initially my transition cue came from a video that I watched on Youtube that highlighted several hair and health conditions that were caused by too much relaxers and chemical treatments (color etc). This helped me to see that chemicals were not a healthy option, so I started to become curious about my natural hair. That was when I decided to return to my natural roots.
2. Stop getting a relaxer!
If you decide that you want to go natural then you must stop relaxing your hair. Relaxers cannot be reversed so if you want to embrace your new growth then you have to get rid of the chemicals. If you decide that you are going to go natural then I would recommend that you do not store any old relaxers in your home. You will only be tempting yourself because when you are dealing with two different textures (which is hard sometimes) you may be tempted to relax again. So ditch the temptation!
2. Cater to both textures.
During your transition you will have a variation of textures which include your relaxed hair and your new growth. You will need to find products that work well for both textures to keep them from breaking off before you are ready to big chop.Products that work well for your relaxed hair may not work for your natural curls and vice versa, so its important to find a balance between the two.
I would suggest that you look for products formulated for transitioning hair. These products contain ingredients that will cater to both your relaxed and natural hair.
3. Don’t manipulate your hair often.
Transitioning hair is more fragile when compared to relaxed or natural hair. This is because you now have a line of demarcation. The line of demarcation is the point where your new growth and relaxed hair meet, and this is a huge breaking point if the hair isn’t cared for properly.
Incorporate low manipulation and protective styling (such as twist outs, braid outs, braids, twists, buns etc) in your regimen to give your hair a break from constant manipulation.
Moisturize and deep condition your hair frequently. Moisture gives the hair elasticity and the ability to be molded into different styles without breaking. Moisture is so important in your regimen because it nourishes the hair to promote length retention.
Deep condition your hair once per week, or even twice a week if you must because your hair will need it. I had to cut my transition short because my hair wasn’t getting the moisture that it needed.
I would recommend investing in a spray bottle during your transition. Mist your hair daily with water or a water/oil mixture to keep your hair moisturized.
Some of my favorite deep conditioners/conditioners during my transition were:
- Shea Moisture’s Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque
- Shea Moisture’s Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen, Grow, and Restore Treatment Masque
- Carol’s Daughter Hair milk curl-Defining moisture mask
- Aussie 3 minute miracle deep treatment
- Carol’s daughter moisture and shine hydrating conditioner
- Aussie moist conditioner
5. Protein Treatments.
Your hair needs moisture but it also needs to be balanced with protein. Your hair is made mostly of protein (keratin to be exact), and when you comb and style it frequently it causes wear and tear in the hair cuticle. Your hair is very weak during transitioning and very susceptible to breakage, so you have to add protein treatments into your regimen to combat breakage. Some easy DIY protein treatments that you can use to strengthen and nourish the hair are:
- Egg and Avocado mask
2 Eggs (more or less depending on the length of your hair)
1 ripe avocado (crushed)
2 tbsp olive oil (or whatever oil you choose)
10 drops peppermint essential oil (or whatever essential oil you prefer)
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Mix using a hand blender, and apply to your hair. Cover hair with a plastic cap/bag for 30 mins then rinse and proceed to your moisturizing deep conditioner.
- Mayonnaise Treatment
Purchase any mayonnaise from your grocery store to use in your treatment. Prepare your hair by sectioning and spraying with warm water to open your cuticles. Apply the mayonnaise to your hair as you would do a conditioner and cover with a plastic cap/bag. Leave treatment on for 20 mins then rinse with warm water and proceed to your moisturizing treatment.
Some store-bought products that worked well for my hair during my transition are:
- Aphogee two-minute reconstructor
- ORS Hair Mayonnaise
6. Stay away from heat!
Lock away all your heat styling tools during this time because you don’t want to risk getting heat damage. Heat damage means starting your transition from square one because unfortunately it cannot be reversed. Using too much heat on your hair will make your hair dry which leads to breakage.
7. Curl Type.
You will not know your true hair type until you chop off your straight relaxed ends. The limp relaxed ends are weighing down on your new growth which might show a looser curl pattern than your true hair type. When you get around to chopping those ends off then you will see your curl type, so don’t get attached to what you see as it might not be a true representation of your curls.
8. Love and accept your hair.
You should love and accept your hair for what it is. In the natural hair community a lot of women hope to get a looser curl pattern (3a-4a) because unfortunately it is what’s most accepted and loved. But guess what? All curl patterns are beautiful.
9. Ignore all discouragement!
You might at some point have someone telling you that you shouldn’t transition because natural hair is too hard to deal with, but you should do what makes you happy. I had people telling me that taking care of natural hair is too hard, and that I won’t be able to do it because it is so time-consuming. But, I have to say transitioning is the best decision I’ve ever made when it comes to my hair. Don’t let anyone discourage your from going natural, but if you decide that it isn’t for you then let that decision be yours.
10. It will be emotional.
Transitioning for most people is very emotional. It means you may feel liberated, happy, sad, discouraged or whatever other emotion. I didn’t feel like I made the right decision when I did the big chop because I wasn’t used to having short hair. I felt unattractive at first, but after fully accepting myself as I was I felt amazing.
I decided that I was going to be confident about my hair and love it for what it is, and after a couple of week I felt so much better about my hair. I chose to love my hair. Give it some time and you will realize that your hair is beautiful.
Here’s a video from @naptural85 sharing her tips on transitioning to natural hair.
Ok ladies we’ve come to the end of another post, and I hope with all my heart that this has helped you in some way. My intent with this article is to shine light on some issues that we face during our transition, and also to make it a little easier for you to make it through.
If you’ve found value from this I would very much like it if you shared it with other women out there who might benefit from this. Share, like, subscribe using the links below.