Transitioning Hairstyles for Every Skill Level

Sometimes I forget that there are readers who are still working on growing out their relaxer to fully return to natural hair. Shoutout to my coworker for reminding me about y’all transitioning folks! Before continuing to read about various transitioning hairstyles you can use to move you further along your journey, take a look at this quiz to help you figure out whether you should big chop ASAP, transition for just a few months, or transition for a long time. Back to the matter at hand: you (or your cousin or your mama or your niece or your line sister) are transitioning and you have no idea what to do with your hair! Whether you’re a hair queen or you struggle a bit more than the average girl, I’ve got transitioning hairstyles for every skill level.

transitioning hairstyles for every skill level

Photo cred (clockwise from top left): Christian Byshe, Around the Way Curls, Beauty by Lee, Sham I Am Glam, Pinterest, and Moi.

Beginner At-Home Hairstylists

If you STILL don’t know how to wrap your relaxed hair to retain your bump (this was me #noshameinmygame), boo boo you’re in this category. Do yourself and your hair a favor and go super low maintenance with your transitioning hairstyles.

Good idea: Go to a salon every couple of weeks to have your hair washed, detangled, and lightly trimmed. If you can bear the heat (and it’s potential damage), opt for a blowout to more easily blend the relaxed and natural textures.

Better idea: Do protective styles for a month at a time – alternate between braids, twists, faux locs, weaves, cornrows, etc – to give your hair and your sanity a styling break.

Intermediate At-Home Hairstylists

This is the girl who once cut and/or colored her hair by herself and it was acceptable enough to go out in public. You’ve made it this far in relaxed life but you’re not skilled enough to quit everything and apply to work with Kim Kimble & the L.A. Hair crew (is this show still on? I’m too lazy to Google).

Good idea: Buns baby. High, low, pulled all the way back or with a deep side part, buns are a great way to tame your transitioning hair because it keeps your ends protected. Be careful with the brushing and baby hair creating, and use gels and pomades that don’t dry out your hair.

Better idea: Perfect your flat twist and cornrow game now by doing crown twists and goddess braids, and twist/cornrow updos that can keep your hair up and away for 2-3 weeks at a time.

Expert At-Home Hairstylists

This is the girl who has been giving herself Dominican salon worthy blowouts and doobies since high school. Your friends call you to lay their hair before their dates, and you’ve been known as the girl who’d never go natural because your hair was always long, healthy, and gone with the wind fabulous. You the real MVP!

Good idea: You’re going to have to do at least ten bantu knot outs before you get one that looks, so you might as well start practicing now. The style does a good job of blending your natural roots to your relaxed ends, just be sure to use a setting lotion or mouse. The thicker your hair, the smaller the knots have to be for this style to look nice.

Better idea: Using rollers or rods to create a curly set is a better option for skilled transitioners than bantu knots because the rollers achieve a truly uniform pattern. It’s also easier to reduce puffy roots (if  roller sets are done properly) because your roots are stretched taut around the rod or roller.

What are some easy hairstyles for transitioners? What are some of the more difficult styles? Which styles did you use while transitioning to natural hair and why?

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  1. I am very late here, but just now coming across your site. I am very new to transitioning (actually tried it about 4-5 years ago, but it didn’t work out). I actually made it to 6 months of transitioning the first time I tried it. I’m only 2 months in this time, but I feel I will be better prepared this time as far as having more info & a stylist to help me along. Most likely I will be that person rocking buns, but I would love to get acquainted with braid & twist outs. I probably wouldn’t mind the rod styles as well.

  2. been transitioning for 18 months and have about 5-8 inches left of relaxed hair! I never knew how to wrap my relax hair but i found my stable styles to be braid and curls using perm rods or flat twist outs… now just trying to figure out how to preserve them.

  3. Awesome tips! I guess im in between beginner and intermediate since I know how to wrap my hair but i’ve never dyed it by myself. Haha but the strange thing is, I went straight into perm rod sets as my go to style for transitioning. Methods like weave and buns just seem like hair styles that didn’t help me learn about my hair.

    Im only 8 months in my transitioning(Big Chop date unknown) and your tips have inspired me to keep going!! <3

  4. LOL I remember those transitioning days! All the hairstyle ideas you posted were great! I rocked a bun religiously for the most part, but transitioning ladies should definitely start practicing bantu knots and blending the two textures. The braid and curl/ twist and curl are simple variations to a full rod set.

    Victoria Sallie

  5. I’d say I’m an expert at home stylist however I DO NOT know what to do if a flat iron and blow dryer are not involved. I think I’m definitely ready to chop tho, its just a matter of mustering up the courage. Eek! Will keep you posted and thnx girlie. You’re blog is too cute.