What is transitioning hair?

shannon deep condition transition

Transitioning is the process you go through when you stop relaxing and damaging your hair and begin to grow it out without chemicals. Known as the other alternative to doing the big chop, which is cutting off all of the damaged hair and starting growth from scratch, many curlies -- like myself -- prefer to transition to natural hair as we feel as though the big chop wouldn't suit our look, or perhaps, we are too scared.

The advantage of transitioning to natural hair

You get to really see a noticeable difference between your damaged/relaxed hair and your natural curls. You may have been relaxing your hair for so long that you cannot even remember what your natural texture looks like! I have learned so much about looking after my natural hair in its transitioning phase, which inspired me to become a hair blogger and write a book all about my own transitioning journey!

Now, how to start your transitioning journey and look after your transitioning hair isn't as hard as it seems! You just have to make a major promise to yourself that you will not touch another heat tool or relaxer until the damage has gone! You will also want to trim away at the damaged hair every few months or where you see fit. Eventually, you will be ready for a curly haircut to rid of all of your damaged hair and be left with your natural curls!

How to begin your transitioning journey

Here's what to do.

  1. Do some research on the natural hair journey before deciding if it is for you. Watch videos on YouTube from hair vloggers with a similar hair type to yours that have successfully transitioned. Try out some of their suggested techniques.
  2. Wash Day! Try out your first ever natural hair wash day. You may have picked up some great skills from the research you have done so far, so now it is time to put it to practice. The first changes I made: deep conditioning and finger detangling with a generous amount of slippery conditioner. You will also want to apply a protein treatment every 6 weeks until you notice your hair is healthier and stronger.
  3. Your hair will be very sensitive while transitioning and tends to become dry, so it is important to retain as much moisture as possible. Do this by eliminating products from your hair cabinet, including harsh ingredients like sulfates, parabens and silicones.
  4. Be gentle with styling. It's time to put down that rat tail comb! You are going to have to be as gentle as possible with your hair as it will be even more prone to breakage due to the line of demarcation.
  5. Protective styling! Further protect your transitioning hair from over-manipulation by wearing a protective style, which is one that allows you to not touch your real hair for at least a few weeks at a time. These styles can include (but not limited to) braids, cornrows, wigs, weaves and twists! They allow the hair to grow reducing the chances of breakage. If installed correctly and not tightly at the edges, it is truly a protective style.

Your transitioning "don'ts" for naturally curly hair

These things will set you back.

  1. Use heat. Using heat on already damaged, weak hair is only going to cause more damage and eventually lead to breakage. Your new natural hair growing in is going to be strong and healthy, applying heat to it is only jeopardizing your good work! If you are a fan of heat styles try to wait until all of your relaxed or damaged hair has grown out, then you may apply heat once a month with heat protection.
  2. Manipulate your hair. As mentioned above, the line of demarcation, the line where your damaged hair meets your natural hair, is sensitive. Any harsh styling, pulling, or manipulating is going to make it break. To maintain the line of demarcation, reduce manipulative hairstyles that pull at the hair and use a wide tooth comb or your fingers for detangling.
  3. Detangle dry hair. Detangle only wet and conditioned hair. This is one of the biggest and most beneficial steps to your transitioning journey. Growing up, I would condition my hair while it was dry and wonder why I wasn't getting the results I wanted. Wet hair will help your comb or fingers glide through knots much easier, reducing the risk of further hair breakage.
  4. Break the bank. Don't fall into the thinking that you have to buy every single new natural hair product on the market! I fell for that myself when starting my journey, but it isn't a necessity. You can simply begin with this list: sulphate-free shampoo, co-wash or rinse-out conditioner, deep conditioner, protein treatment, moisturising leave-in conditioner.
  5. Skip deep conditions. Deep conditioning is a MUST for transitioners as it gives your hair that extra boost of moisture it needs during this drying period! I loved to deep condition for 30 minutes (minimum) with a deep conditioner full of natural ingredients and for additional moisture, I added heat (a hooded dryer, heat cap, warm towels) on top of my shower cap to open up the cuticles and allow in as much moisture as possible.

Happy transitioning!

I hope all of the advice above is enough to convince you to start your transitioning journey now! Let us know how your experience is going throughout the months to come.

Follow me on Instagram for more curly hair tips @UKCurlyGirl