How to transition from relaxed to natural hair



he decision to transition from relaxed to natural hair can be very daunting but once you’ve decided to then you are on your way to a long and wonderful journey especially when you’re armed with all the necessary information to help you along the way.

There is no best way to transition.  A lot will depend on your lifestyle, the present state of your hair and how soon you want to transition.

Remember that a relaxer is permanent and cannot be removed by some product or the other. I have heard some people say a bottle of guiness stout or star (naija people), etc but believe me stout will only make your hair thicker for a while (when used as a treatment for limp hair) but the perm will still remain.

There are no products that will remove the effect of relaxer on natural hair other than scissors.  If you decide to just grow your hair out gradually back to its natural state you will however need to keep trimming your hair until you reach your desired length to prevent or reduce breakages. 

The Big Chop

This is popular method in the natural community but the thought of it is usually daunting.  It is a very obvious step from what your hair was like a day, an hour or even a minute before to what it will be after you have chopped off all the relaxed hair at a go.

Some ladies find it a relief though, to finally take off all the permed hair out of their heads as quickly as possible and start with a new look.

Big chopping majorly will depend on how much new (virgin hair) growth you already have on your hair. If your are bold enough to sport a really short hair-do or even a bald look, then you can go ahead and chop it off completely.

Hairstyle options in this method will depend on the length of hair you have left after the chop.

You can wear a TWA (tweeny weeny afro) if you cut off all the relaxed hair leaving you with about an inch or two of the new growth or you can even two-strand twists pretty easily with anything from two inches length of hair.

Transitioning without the Big-Chop 

As mentioned earlier, sometimes the thought of chopping off all of your relaxed hair is too daunting. Some naturals did not know what to expect and so decided to grow out their natural hair as long as it took them to come to terms with the new look.

If this is the route you decide to take, then you will need to find styles that will give you the chance to gradually grow out your natural hair without big chopping it to a short length.

A few styles options in this regard when you are just newly becoming natural would be:

1.  Twist Outs

This is one style that is usually great for long term transitioners. It is a very popular styles for most naturals and if you get a firm grip of it early, it might become one of your best styles to do in the future.

Usually, twist-outs while transitioning with permed hair will give your hair a wavy look which isn’t bad at all. It will leave your hair with lots of texture and help to blend the natural roots with the permed ends.

It is a style you can do for a very long time until you are ready to do a big chop all of the remaining relaxed hair on your head.

Braids out

2.  Box Braids and/or Weaves

So you don’t want to big chop, you can have your hair braided until it grows to a length you are comfortable with so you can cut off the relaxed ends to continue with other natural hair styling options.

3.  Sister-locks – Sister-Locks can be started with one and one half inches of new growth at the scalp. They are similar to dread locks but with a look more like micro braids or very small twists. This style provides you with many styling options. For more information (including pictures) check it out here.

There are tons of other style which you can use to transition including, two strand twists, roller sets, wigs and a host of others.

Transitioning Essentials

It is important that you keep your ends clipped regularly during this process so that your split ends do not continue up the hair shaft and damage the natural hair.

 Trying to transition in other ways, like pressing the natural hair as it grows underneath the relaxed hair, is only going to make your hair prone to breakage and can damage the natural hair you’re trying to grow out.

While transitioning, try to discover styles that will accommodate the new growth coming in like twists or braids.

Transitioning is a wonderful journey that you should document and enjoy while you are at it. Using a journal to record entries of what you’re doing, how you achieved a style will help you greatly in the long run.

Have you decided to long term transition or big chop? Have you been transitioning, how was the process? Please share in the comment section.

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Alorye Ugar
CEO/Editor-in-Chief at Vivacious Media Limited
Alorye is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of One Naija Girl. She is passionate about Nigerian women embracing their natural hair and understanding how to take care of it.
She is an Accounting graduate from the University of Calabar, a Fashion designer and CEO of Vivacious Media Limited, Abuja, Nigeria.


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