The first step to transitioning your natural hair or heat damage is to immediately cease the use of direct heat. There is no other way, just stop. I know it is hard, but all addictions are, including the one you have for the flat iron. Some may disagree and say reducing your use of heat will suffice, but the quickest way to get rid of heat damage is to reduce the risk of creating more.
Find new styles that you can wear without the use of direct heat. The beauty of natural hair is that there are endless styles. You can wear twists and if you do not like them you can wear a twist out instead. You can wear braids, Bantu-knot outs, braid outs, and twist outs until the relaxed hair or heat damage grows out. If you stop using heat, it should not take long. Here are some common styles for transitioners that even a beginner can master.
- Twists are a great style because you can make them as small or big as you want. Not only that, they transition easily into another style, a twist out. If you are worried about your ends thinning, add a cold perm rod rollers or flexi rod rollers to help them blend.
- Twist outs and braid outs give you various manipulated curl patterns that last at least a week with proper maintenance and great weather.
- Roller sets are fun but take a little more work and may require sitting under a hooded dryer if you do not want to sleep with them. Depending on the roller size, you can also create different curl patterns. I would also put flexi rods in this category another fun way to create curls and one of my personal favorites. You can use magnetic rulers, cold perm rod rollers, flexi rods, and even Curlformers. Determining which rollers to use depend on the style you want to achieve.
Commit, commit, commit! This is a learning process. I have spoken to many people who are transitioning and one of their main concerns is that these styles will not look “as good” on them. Like everything, it takes practice to figure out what styles work for you, so do not become hopeless. Your twist out did not hold? Maybe you need to try another product or find out the 8 Reasons Your Twist Outs Are a Hot Mess. Want more definition? Try creating smaller twists. There are so many factors as to why you did not achieve the desired results with a style (e.g. product, technique, weather). Doing the same thing will only produce the same results so it is important to take the initiative to practice and observe what you are doing right and what could use improvement. YouTube is a great source with tutorials full of knowledge and experience.
How often you trim is determined by the amount of damage or personal preference. The rule of thumb is the trim at the same rate your hair grows, so that does mean that your hair will not appear as long in comparison to straight hair due to shrinkage. If you are really trying to preserve length, you can determine the rate at which you trim but it is suggested that you consult a hairstylist to assure the damage is not traveling up the hair shaft to the virgin hair.
In conclusion, to get slowly rid of your heat damaged hair and maintain the health of your unprocessed hair you must stop using direct heat, select your styles, practice, commit, and trim along the way! The moment I did all of the above my hair grew I was able to retain so much length.
How did you wean yourself off of heat styling during your transition?