How to Successfully Transition to Natural Hair

A reader asked me to talk about some tips for an effective (i.e. sane) transition period, so I thought I’d write up a post for y’all! If you have questions about the transition vs. big chop, first check out this post to determine which might be better for you. Once you’ve committed to transitioning from relaxed hair to natural hair, check out these tips to ensure a successful journey!

Plan the Chop Date Ahead of Time

Decide how long you’re going to transition for, and have an end point either based on length or time. For example, “I’ll transition until New Year’s” or “I’ll transition until my new growth reaches my ear when pulled” are both acceptable ways of thinking about the length of your transition period. Identify which salon or friend will have the honor of doing your big chop, and start talking to them about the day so they can encourage you as it gets closer.

Have Transition-Friendly Hair Crushes

Start building a vision board, or begin collecting inspirational photos of women with SHORT natural hair of varying textures. One mistake a lot of transitioners do is to collect hundreds of photos of women with long and big natural hair, thinking their own can reach those lengths in the year or two they plan to transition. Choosing to focus on shorter natural hairstyles as inspiration is more realistic, and a healthier goal as you look forward to cutting out your relaxer. If you’re not sure what your hair texture may be, finding a range of women with different textures as inspiration will help so you don’t put all your chop dreams in one texture basket then become frustrated when your hair looks completely different.

Do Hairstyles in Increments

One important way to get through your transition period is to do hairstyles in 4 or 6 week increments. If you’re going to wear a roller set, plan to do so for a month, which will probably mean two trips to the salon. After that, spend the second month in crochet braids, the following month wearing braids, and then try flexirods or bantu knots for month four. Alternating protective styles with wearing your own hair both gives you a break from your hair, which will be much more difficult to care for, while also offering you small opportunities to get used to your new hair texture. The danger of doing full on protective styling for the length of your transition is that you’ll wake up the day after cutting your hair and have NO idea how to care for it. On the flip side, leaving your hair out for the entire transition can leave you frustrated with the two textures, and might hinder your ability to retain length since the line of demarcation is so fragile.

Lay off Your Edges & Heat

In the quest for growth and length retention during your transition, you might turn to braids, weaves, and quick buns and ponytails during your transition. While this is all fine and dandy, don’t sacrifice the health of your edges, as you’ll just have to struggle to grow them back once you’re completely natural! There’s nothing worse than getting through the struggles of transitioning and finally cutting your hair, just to have weak, broken, or heat damaged edges that throw off your natural look. Be kind to your edges during your transition!

What are some of your tips for a successful transition period? If you’re currently transitioning, what are your biggest challenges?

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