6 Things Transitioners Should Know

Transitioning hair tips

Natural hair textures require its own set of standards for care, that differs from relaxed hair care. Which is why transitioners should know what these standards of care are in order to avoid breakage and bad hair days!

1. As your hair grows out study your curl pattern, its coarseness, its kinkyness, and coils. Learning and accepting very quickly what your hair can and cannot do will save you from too many rough days in the road ahead. For instance, while there are some naturals that can wet their hair frequently you may not be one of them! Using practices that do not work for your hair type will land you with a bad hair day and in the worst case scenario breakage.

2. While you are transitioning you are dealing with two textures. You have your straight ends from your relaxer and your curls at your root. The difference in these two textures can cause breakage if you are not careful. By wearing protective styles such as buns, twists, or low manipulation styles such as twists outs you can spare yourself from breakage.

3. When you do decide to do twist out or braid out styles, to give your hair a more consistent look throughout use rollers or rods on your ends. Otherwise you are going to have a not so hot looking style. You will end up having curly roots with flat straight ends, which often doesn’t make for a good style.

Or you could just try rod setting which looks super awesome!

4. Don’t you dare comb your hair from the roots to your ends! When your hair is straightened this doesn’t pose a big problem, but in its curly state this is something you definitely do not want to do. When combing your hair, you will be GENTLY combing your hair from the ends to the root using a wide tooth comb or denman brush.

5. Lay off the heat styling tools! Once you are natural it is fine to change it up every once in a while, but when you are transitioning try to take a break from the heat use. Using hot combs or flat irons can cause permanent straightening of the hair, just like relaxers do, especially if you are a newbie and do not know how much heat your hair can take. You are trying to revert to your natural texture during transition right? Then why defeat the purpose by adding something into your regimen that will work against you?

6. Transitioning is a lengthy process that requires patience and may take up to a year or more depending on how much relaxed ends you have. However, it is the perfect solution for those who are not comfortable with the big chop. You have the time to wait until your hair reaches a length that you are comfortable with and then you can chop off the remainder of your relaxer. So take your time, learn your hair, and love your curls.


66 thoughts on “6 Things Transitioners Should Know

  1. i am on my 9thmo going natural. i have curly hair. my wash in goes are kind of looking like a jheri curl. i just want to no what i can do if anything or what products make be good for my hair not to look like a jheri curl. thanks

  2. I just started my natural adventure in January. I plan on sticking with it. Not sure what products to use there is so many for natural hair. Please HELP!!!!!!

  3. I’ve been natural since October and I still feel overwhelmed and clueless. The products I like are Kinky Curly Custard, As I Am Coconut Cowash, and Miss Jessie’s Curly Meringue. Good luck!

    1. Thanks I will try the products you listed I have seen the As I Am Coconut Co-wash in the stores. If you know of any others I should give a try please let me know. Tks again.

  4. I started my natural journey 09/2012 It’s been crazy I have about 3 inches of new growth all natural and the pattern is becoming more visible. I am currently doing the GHE Challange to see how much I can grow my hair in the next 5 months leading up to my year with out a perm….. It’s frustrating at times but I’m going to stick with it.

  5. I don’t have much of a curl and barely a kink it’s more like a really gentle wave that if I comb or brush it’s gone. I haven’t had a relaxer since July 2012 and I cut most of my relaxed hair. I don’t flat iron anymore either and it looks like a puffy, straight almost wavy mess! I am a bit frustrated because I feel like I should just grab the blow dryer since that’s what my hair looks like… Please help!!

  6. To all the “transistors”, hang in there! I have been chemical free since August 2011. Naturally my hair does not grow fast so my transition has been slow but well worth it. I do not suggest transitioning without a professional. I tried to go to my stylist every six to eight weeks as I did when I had a relaxer. Big mistake! After about 5m post relaxer, I was going to throw in the towel; however, my stylist suggested a texturizer to get me over the hump. I tried it and now I am on my way. As of August 2013, I will be 2yrs chemical free. I still go to my stylist about every 4wks to get a blow out (I need to have heat to tame my roots!) During my off wks, I blow dry and flat iron my hair with medium heat. My hair has about 50% shrinkage when wet so I’m still not at length where “wash & go” styles are an option. If you would like to know more about my transition stories, reply to this comment – I will be more than willing to share!

    1. Hi Yo Yo,

      I read your post on BlackNaps.com and I’m definitely interested in your transition process. I’m new to this and just started out in August. I’m going to transition since I wear a short style any way and don’t wan to do the “big chop” as they say. Are there any special products you use currently that will help in the beginning stages? My main worry is breakage of course.


      1. Dear Toni, I’m in the same boat. I have a short hair style and I decided to go natural last week only I don’t know how to style my hair. It is frustrating. Any advise would be greatly appreciated

      2. Toni loving im kinda in the same boat as you cause i dont want to do the “big chop” and im scared that my hair might break off too

  7. I just started my natural hair journey , kind of scared because last time I tried it the side of my hair had serious hair breakage so I had to get a perm . Any tips on reducing hair breakage ?

    1. Hi Tammy,

      I started my transition in January and I have almost two inches of natural hair growth. The previous relaxer really weakened my hair and I had lots of breakage around 2-3 months into the transition. The breakage occured no matter how many protein conditioners my stylist used. I was concerned. At the suggestion of my stylist I decided to try a professional Keratin treatment. This treatment stopped the breakage in it’s tracks. After about 2 months the breakage increased a little bit but nothing like what I had before the treatment and now it resembles normal daily shedding. You might research this option if nothing else is working for your breakage

    2. When I started transitioning in February, 2013 I had a lot of breakage after about 3 months. I got a keratin treatment at the suggestion of my stylist and the breakage stopped immediately. Keritan is not a chemical relaxer and it fortifies the hair making it stronger.

  8. Hello my Transitioners ! I haven’t had a relaxer since October 2011 and I havent looked back since. My new growth just past my ears and I can tell you that the top 2 things that has made this journey easier is cutting out ALL heat to my hair and Deep Conditioning weekly. Being heat free has made my hair so much thicker and stronger and the deep conditioning has made both textures for my hair softer and easier to manage. Keep going strong ladies ! Reply if you have anymore questions !!

  9. Hey! I started my hair journey in 2009. One day I just decided, nope I want my curls back. I did the hard way and didn’t have a solid professional to help me through the process. My hairdresser who relaxed my hair told point blank it would be impossible to get my curls back and I shouldn’t even bother trying. So I spent a long time (2year) hopping from one hairdresser to another trying to find someone who I could trust with my curls. They early 2012 my dad introduced me to a natural hair enthusiasts and I’ve never looked back. She was the one who introduced me to all these websites, before I thought I was alone in my journey. To all women who are transitioning, persevere and be patient. It might be a long road but it’s a wonderful destination! Abbie, 20yrs type 3c and proud of my ‘fro xxxxxxx

  10. Hello my transitioning sisters. I have just decided to go natural. My last relaxer was July 3rd so I am a beginner. I had decided before then to go natural but I gave up and relaxed my hair big mistake because I regretted it the very next day. So this time I am serious. I just get so discouraged because my hair is so so so thick. I guess to some people that is a great thing. I am really going to stick with it this time. I don’t have bad hair at all as a matter of fact my hair is really health and shinny and it is BSL. So I will not do a big chop I will just get my hair trimmed every 6-8 weeks while the relaxer grows out. Love this site so I will be doing a lot of research.

  11. Hey there,

    I am still wondering if I should go natural. I haven’t permed my hair in 4 months (yikes!) and I was thinking of doing it next week (because my hair is so thick despite the crimpy curls at my scalp) but I think I might stick it out. I will try the coconut/lime “relaxer” to see how it works and then try and buy some conditioners the following week. Do you all have any suggestions on what I should get? Or do you think I should 86 the coconut/lime relaxer?

  12. I totally relate to point number 2. I heat styled my hair into submission. Only problem I have is that most of the advice that is given on transitioning is for curly heads that have relaxed their hair. There is very little to no advice given on what to do if you only straightened your hair with heat only (because that’s what I done). There is definitely advice needed for us curly girls who did not use chemicals on our hair and used heat instead. Because heat is just as damaging as mentioned in point number 2. It almost feels like there’s prejudice for those who did not relax their hair as there is no advice for us.

  13. Hey, I am a beginner on the journey of going natural! I haven’t had a perm since May and have been doing different styles to maintain my hair on this journey! Right now i have in the bantu knot style. I have about 2 inches new growth and I’m loving my curl pattern so far. I just want to know is there any advice on deep conditioning products?!

    1. Hey there,

      I use Beautiful Textures Deep Repair Deep Conditioner. It is thick, water based, smells amazing and, if you want, you can use it as an extra touch in their leave in conditioner (to treat your hair while conditioning). I hope that helps

  14. Hey everyone
    I have just decided to start my transition journey today. My last relaxer was on Aug 18th but I’m getting a little tired of the creamy crack – plus I’m worried of any possible health related side effects in later life…. Any way I’m completely lost and not sure where to start. My hair is extremely coarse 4c to the point of having broken many combs during my childhood which is why I gave into relaxers in the first place.

    I am so scared! I think I will try keep my hair in weave in order to transition but I have no idea whether this is a good method?? I also would love any advice on hair products or any other tips you can think of…?

  15. Hi, I NEED HELP!!! My hair is a MESS!!!! I don’t even really have a curl pattern. It looks like when you take your braids out and detangle your hair. I am really about to get a perm… PLEASE HELP!!!!

  16. I NEED HELP!!!! I have not had a perm since March 2013. I could deal at first but know it’s ridculous. My hair looks like I had braids, took them out then detangled it. I don’t even have a curl pattern!!!! I am about to get a perm!!! HELP!!!!

    1. Hey Zari, don’t stress. I’m not expert but I like helping people so you, firstly, need to relax. Second, what hair products do you use? Hair products as in shampoo and such? I asked because they might weigh your hair down so much so where your curl pattern might not be apparent. I am transitioning now (since April and before I changed my products I didn’t see a curl pattern at all!) & I think you might need to change your products into something lighter. From experience, the tresamme brand is great. It makes your curl patterns pop; same as the suave brand. Both of their conditioners make your hair light so your new growth is more apparent. Next, you said your hair looks like it had braids in it and then detangle. Do you use detangler that works on dry or wet hair? I mean it might not matter either way because I use both but i noticed the one that works on dry hair kind of ways it down a bit. Not to much but i notice the buildup in my scalp overtime. Anyway, once you detangle your hair and section it you should still see the curl pattern from your new growth at your scalp and once you shampoo, I use tresamme now for that, and condition you should see it. Finally, if you still don’t see it, you might just have wavy or crimpy hair -shrugs-. I hope I helped; if not sorry I could be of assistance.

      1. Hi, Latricia, we I use detangling products for my air often. I use the 14-n-1 miracle worker to detangle. I also use curling pudding by AFrican beauty and curl activavtor by sofesheen carson. I don’t really shampoo my I hair i just cowash with restorative mask and I bought carol’s daughter to help. But NOTHING work!!! I am trying to train my hair so that I can get the pattern but it has been a struggle.

        1. Hey Zari,

          Firstly, I use to be just like that, with the cowashing, but I’ve cut that down because, for some reason, I still ended up with product build-up and when I have that, my hair doesn’t grow. It felt moisturized, smelled amazing and it was soft (I interchange between As I Am Coconut Cowash (this is the brand that I cut my usage down), Tresamme Naturals and the Suave Keratin Infused Conditioner (the last two are my favorites but I love to use the Tresamme with the accompanying shampoo) but…after a day or two I felt like my scalp wasn’t “free” and as clean as I would have wanted it. So, I re-added the shampoo (Tresamme I mentioned above) back into my regimen. For me, I shampoo once every week or two and I cowash every 3-4 days. I have seen an improvement in the growth of my hair. The demarcation line is different than when I first started my regimen (that is how I keep tab on my new growth and my permed ends) so I’m happy. Maybe while you are trying to find your products you can take photos to see if you see any progress in the growth of your natural hair.

          Secondly, it’s hot where I live (The Bahamas) so my hair tends to dry out very fast and I tend to have to use detanglers to make it manageable (which adds to the buildup in my hair). So, I had to decrease the amount of detangler I use (I cut it back to maybe once or twice a week…and I just stick with plain water the other days. Since I use the 7 in 1 treatment from Creme of Nature (which has a detangler in it), I find out when I just use water I reactivate the treatment so…I get the same effect without adding more product to my hair. Because of that, you might need to cut back on the amount of times you use your detangler and get some oils; coconut, extra virgin olive oil or castor oil while using water (you can add your preferred oil before or after you cowash). I love coconut oil (I have been using the same hair and scalp conditioner I have been using since I was relaxed: TCB Naturals with conditioning olive oil. I am not sure if it is meant to work with natural hair but it works wonders for my hair so; why fix something when it’s not broken?)

          Lastly, how often do you fix/style your hair? I asked because, maybe your hair just needs to be left alone (after you do your regimen to it of course). Constantly changing your hair style or messing with your hair slows down the growth process; and if you are one of those persons whose hair doesn’t grow that fast then that could possibly be a reason as to why.

          I get that you are trying to train your hair but….going from one product to another might do more damage than good. I can’t vouch for Carols Daughter, even though I heard it works for some, but I think you just need to stick to the basics, first: a proper conditioner (since you cowash that is a regular rinse out and a leave in (water based)), moisturizers, deep treatment/conditioner (which you need to do at least once a week since you are transitioning), your essential oil (the ones I mentioned above), a wide tooth comb, a detangler, water (which I can not stress enough) and your protective style. Those are a guaranteed way of making your hair grow. It will grow regardless of what you do but how you treat, and what you do to it, will indicate how fast it does grow.

          P.S. When your hair is completely conditioned your curl pattern will pop; and that is a guarantee. I couldn’t really see it when I used the As I Am brand, nor when I used the conditioner in the SheaMoisture Transition Kit (yes I bought that…did nothing for me. The conditioner was okay but I wouldn’t buy the full bottle) I felt the difference in textures but I couldn’t really see it; but when I used the Suave for the first time….WOW! I looked in the mirror…and it was right there! The same with the Tresamme. Once you find that good conditioner that your hair desires then you will see.

          P.S.S. I haven’t heard of the curl activator but maybe you might need to cut that back as well…same as the curling pudding…until you get your hair on a strict regimen. Since you said you can’t see your curl pattern they might be a hindrance because they might be weighing it down.

  17. Hello,

    I’m transitioning to natural also. I haven’t had a relaxer in little over a month and I really don’t know my curl pattern either. I’ve already have short hair and I started to get flex-rods last week, but chose not to because my hair will really be too short..so I’ll wait until it grows out a little more. What are the best products to use in the meantime????

  18. I’m a complete newbie. My last relaxer was June ’13. I’ve decided to transition while wearing a full weave and then do a chop in 12 months —is this a good stratagy?

  19. Hey ladies.
    I have been natural since January 2012. My hair hasn’t really grown much(it doesn’t grow very fast). I’ve tried almost every product out there and I still can’t seem to find anything that works or a routine. Can anyone please help me and give me some pointers on products, routines, styles? I still have a TWA that is not so teeny anymore.

  20. I am in the 7th month of my pregnancy and by the rate my hair is growing I have decided that I want to go natural, unfortunately im not sure where to start. Although I do know I want to transition & not chop but im not sure what products to use. Can someone please help!!

  21. Well hey everyone im a newbie and young i havent had a perm since school started which was in August.. And im tired of getting perms now i have ask my praise dance teacher what to do and she said that i need to get braids and get it trim i really dont want to do the big chop since my hair stops a little past my shoulders also my oldest cousin is natural and her hair is way out there and thats how i want my hair also im frighting that my hair might break off alot.

  22. Hi I am a newbie transitioning. I haven’t had a perm since May of 2013. Its a daily struggle for me but I have purchased a couple of wigs. I just learned my hair type is a 4b. So this should be interesting finding hair products that work for me.

  23. Well I actually cut my hair n a short style. And I was wondering what are some really nice hair styles to let it grow.

  24. Hey ladies, im a newbie…im transitioning, my last relaxer was may 2013. I so did not want to do the big chop, but it seems like the process is slower without the chop.. i just dont want to cut off all my hair.. so far i just been wearing box braids, an wigs. Because my hair is real curly at the roots now so much new growth an strait at the ends its too thick an twistouts aint go look goo with my real hair now… so im stickin with the braids

  25. I am transitioning to natural hair. I got My last relaxer in March 2013. I’ve been using products by Shea Moisture and I really love how light weight it makes my hair feel. I am having a hard time staying away from my flat/curling iron. I know heating tools can be very damaging to the hair so I have been looking for some protective styles. I had Havana twists a couple months back and loved them! I plan on getting kinky twists soon. I also like to use Proclaim Natural 7 Oil once a week or after every wash to keep my scalp and hair moisturized. Paying close attention to the ingredients in the products before buying them also helps. Stay away from any petroleum, parabens, sulfates, silicones and alcohols. Products with more natural ingredients will cost more but it’s totally worth it.

  26. Hi, I haven’t had a relaxer since April ’13. So far, I’ve been getting my hair braided in box braids for me to transition. I took them out for a while, got my hair washed & trimmed then I got braids again. Soon, I’m taking them out and don’t know what to do!! The new growth is alot to handle! Can someone give me tips on what to do? Btw, I really don’t mess with my hair alot because it’s usually in box braids. Thanks!

  27. The last time I got my perm was in either August or September.I heard that perms were bad for your hair so I decided not to use them anymore,but I dont know if I HAVE to get the big chop….I’ve been using Mane ‘n Tail for a month and a half now.My hair has grown about an inch now. 🙄

  28. Hello ladies! The last time I’ve had a relaxer was May 17, 2013. I have sew-ins to manage the beast (new growth) 😉 & I haven’t used heat in my head since my last relaxer! 🙂 But, my Mom is taking me to the salon in Janurary to do something to my head, lol.
    Any ideas, please? *LOW MAINTENANCE*!! I REALLY want senegalese twists, but she doesn’t want me to have extensions. 😥 (which makes no sense.. i don’t wanna mess with my hair & cause breakage). But.. yes, lol. Please give me ideas.

  29. I’ve always had long (relaxed) hair that reached the small of my back, but a few years ago my hair got extremely damaged and began to fall out. I got my hair cut a couple inches above my shoulders and it doesn’t seem to be growing much. My last perm was 4months ago. I’ve been thinking about bringing back my natural hair. Problem is, I have no idea what to do or what steps to take. Btw I’m only 16 ❓

  30. My last perm was in either August or September 2013. I got braids in on September 28 2013 and I took them down on December 20, 2013. So I have been transitioning for 5-7 months right now. I could feel my natural hair when I put my fingers in my hair. I plan on putting back in my braids tomorrow and then i plan to take them off on May 19, 2014. By the way I’m only 13 🙂

  31. I never had a relaxer or perm but I have straightened my hair very often. I’ve been going to the hair salon ever since I was a little girl (my hair was very long too) I’ve noticed my hair got shorter when I was in7th grade and this past summer to dyed my hair this brownish color ( I wanted to copy off of my mom who btw barely to never straightens her hair and she is very natural) so After I dyed my hair it began to turn straight on its own like 3 or 4 days after I wash it. And I got it straightened last month for my birthday party and a lot of my friends are having sweet 16s this month and idk what to do with my hair! I also try to do natural hairstyles but I’m really bad at it and can’t do cornrows 😐

  32. 😡 my hair is very tick and fibber y and am in the middle of growing it out natural in a transitional way but am not sure what steps to take and what product to use and so fort am really ex sited to see the difference

  33. Hello, I have decided to go natural but I don’t know where to start from. Any suggestions please? My last retouch was January 25th 2014. Suggestions/ideas will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    1. Ive just started my transition Nov 2013 so I am coming up on month five. I would tell you to go out and by small perm rods (gray is what i use) and just twist your hair and put those on the end. Make sure you find a staple style you like and perfect it. Also, get on board with washing once a week. I have to force myself to do it because I only did every other week with my permed hair.

      Also, go buy sulfate free shampoo, cheap but healthy for hair conditioner for detangling when you get further into your journey.

      buy a spray bottle with water, and a twist defining cream. This makes your styles better in my experience. Just keep trucking at least for 9 months before you decide to abandon ship!

  34. I am at the end of my process. I been haf it out of my hair. My last time having one was 2009. What I did do was over heat my hair. Alwaysputting heat to it. The blow dyer was my bestie lol. I have been without heat for 4 months. What I’m having problems at is how to really take care of it and get it to grow.

  35. I have begun transitioning about 4 months ago, I heat it 2 times a month but in the summer I get braids. Is this healthy? If not,what should I do differently in order to be done transitioning in 3 years. (Including full year of 2014 and 2016)

    Please help me so I don’t continue to do the wrong thing if I am!

    1. I think braids is the best way to go, about 3 yrs ago when i went natural i kept my hair in braids for a while and my hair grew alot and every time i took my braids out i always cut my relaxed ends until all the relaxer was gone

  36. I have been natural for 1 year and 8 months and I love it. It happen by accident I was working on a disaster out in California for 3 months and did not know a stylist , when I did find one I was told he was Halle Berry’s stylist and I said I pass since I didn’t have her money. I call my natural my California souvenir . My problem is coloring my hair and hiding that gray what do you recommend and is there anything NATURAL, I like a cinnamon color. This is a wonderful journey doing R&D on products and might a say expensive,

  37. This is my first time going natural. i have not permed my hair i wanna say in a month and its been in braids since then, when i take then out i will be on my own. what do i do

  38. Hello i just made a big chop on my hair. I wud like you to recommend hair products to enable my hair have a steady healthy and fast growth

  39. Hello, I relaxed my hair in the month of January and my hair is Cutting at the edges and I don’t knw what to do to stop that and I’m also experiencing curly hair at the roots of my hair. What should I do?

  40. Hi. My hair is in the transitioning stage my roots curl up but my ends are straight. I just took out my braids but it doesn’t look like my hair is growing and my roots are getting thick but my ends are still thin and breaking off. im also takings biotin which doesn’t seem to be helping.

  41. I’ve been transitioning for about 6 months now. Even when i permed my hair i only permed it every three or four months. I want to know is there any good products that works really well for natural hair besides cantu. I do alot of twist out and flexi rod set on my hair. I also do alot of bantu knot out as well.

    1. I’m just now six months into transitioning and I’ve been experimenting with different products to find what works for me. Everyone’s head is different of course, but I find that Shea Moisture products work really well for my hair. They have a bajillion different lines though. So far my favorite by them is the Sacha Inchi oil Omega 3-6-9 line. Their rescue repair/deep conditioning masque is great in detangling and provides good slip for my hair. My go-to styles have been braid outs and twist outs. I deep condition weekly, use the LOC Method, then whatever styler product(s). I like to use the Camile Rose Almond Jai Twist butter as the Cream in the LOC Method (it can be pricey though). Also, I use a DIY flaxseed/chia seed gel to set/curl the ends on perm rods. I’m going to try a DIY cocoa butter/shea butter cream and see how that works. Anyway, good luck everyone with finding what works for you!

  42. i need to know where will some natural hair classes be held or ceu and weaving techniques in north carolina

  43. These tips are sooooo helpful! I’ve been wanting to go natural for a while, but was always scared of the commitment. This page makes it sound more do-able!!

  44. hi i have not been relexing my hair for about three months now and i wanna go netural which product would you recomend for me

  45. HiI I was transitioning too and the natural sides were showing but I relaxed cause I was discouraged but this is the fourth month now of not relaxing any tips on things I should if I can’t get the shea butter

  46. Hi I stopped perming my hair in early 2014 my hair grew out and I chopped off the perm ends so I was rocking my hair thick and natural for a while. Anyway I wanted to detangle my hair a bit for temporarily so I bought a Dark and Lovely No-Mistake Curl Softener for my hair and it did not give me the look I was anticipating…. Instead it straightens my hair and relax it permanently….. I am so sad now because too much hair products are misleading people. I need help from you guys. I put the texturizer in my hair only for a day now but i hate the straight hair and I want to quickly remove it. Can anyone please advise me on how to quickly make this thing disappear from my hair. Please please guys help me!!!

  47. These are great tips! Another thing I would suggest is to get the
    Nutress Transitioning kit! This kit is really the best thing that works
    for my transitioning hair. One thing that I love about this brand is
    that they don’t make exaggerated claims and their products speak for
    themselves. Their formulas are effective but very gentle, which is
    perfect for Natural hair. You should definitely try it!

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