8 simple tips for transitioning to natural hair while your going gray.

gray hair

Going gray while transitioning to natural curls can require a long grow out period.

Going gray at the same time you're transitioning to natural hair from chemical straighteners seems like a no-brainer. Both require a long grow out period, with multiple trims along the way to the final reveal. So what’s the catch?

Going Gray and Natural Can Be Stressful

A dual detox from relaxers and color to gray hair and natural texture is one of the most challenging transition journeys you can take. This is especially true for ultra-curly 3c, 4a and 4b textures. It is an adventure that will change the way you see yourself and the way you think others see you. Obstacles like dry hair, breakage, hair loss and more cause many women who start the journey to become discouraged and want to relax again. But chemical straighteners won’t help and can cause even more thinning, dryness and breakage.

Take heart, double transitioners! If your hair has had it with the double chemical whammy of color and relaxing, you can bring it to optimum health with these tips and make your double down transition a win-win.

Why Does Gray Hair Feel and Act Differently?

Hair texture changes when it loses color. You may find your grays are more wiry or coarse. Gray hair is more susceptible to dryness and breakage, which can be caused by decreased moisture levels in the hair, tension between the new and old growth, or both. And if you are going gray during perimenopause and experiencing thinning or breaking hair, hormone loss or change in thyroid levels can be the culprits.

Rules for a Healthy Double Transition

The first rule of going gray? Your hair needs a lot more moisture than any other color. Eliminating harsh cleansers and products with stripping power is the first major step to healthier looking, moisturized, more supple gray hair.

1. Give your hair moisture, moisture, moisture.

If you have been bumping along using the same products you did on your relaxed hair, change your hair routine to one that nurtures gray hair. Do it now. Do not wait. Do not sleep on it. Take these protective steps:

2. Take strain off your strands -- big chop now, not later.

Want to minimizing breakage? Cut off those relaxed ends now! What are they, keepsakes? No matter how careful you are, the point at which relaxed hair turns natural is where much breakage occurs. Letting the natural growth run free without fighting for dominance with relaxed ends will help stop breakage in its tracks.

If you decide not to chop and wear a bun, consider braiding, twisting or bantu knotting instead. Pulling the hair back stresses the hairline and can cause breakage at the binding point. Protect the hair when sleeping with a silk or satin pillowcase.

3. Stop treating hair like laundry!

Eliminate shampoo, especially any shampoo with laurel or laureth sulfates. You may as well wash your hair with Tide or Dawn; that is how harsh these shampoos are. Women with stick straight hair who need to control the amount of sebum coming down the hair from their scalps can use them. We ultra-curly 4a and 4b women have no such problem -- the first coil or kink stops the sebum in its tracks, resulting in dry brittle strands. Instead, use light conditioners to cleanse the scalp and hair.

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Karen McIntosh
Good article. I agree with everything in this blog except for the need to BC. I think it is stressful enough to go natural from a relaxer or texturizer without also having to "go bald" or BC with short short hair. If you need to moisturize your hair anyway, why would going gray make it any more difficult? I think the most difficult thing about going natural and gray at the same time is the assumed hairstyle choices. The photo for this article shows a short curly afro. I don't want to wear a short curly or kinky (4B/C) afro. It is lovely on the model but I'd rather wear graying braids. I'd like more information on this website about the best options for coloring your hair while transitioning from chemically altered hair to natural if you wish to do so. I admit I need to look around. I may find that article and still decide graying and natural are a lovely combo and don't require a BC. Thank you for the space to make my comments.