Transitioning From Relaxed to Natural Hair

June 22, 2011

 Many people have difficulty making the transition from relaxed to natural hair because they are unaware of what products to use and how to style their hair. The main concern is figuring out how to maintain their new growth to look like their relaxed hair.  Some common mistakes people make, when transitioning, is constantly adding heat.  Relaxed hair is prone to breakage once it comes into contact with new growth (non-relaxed hair).  The difference, in structures of natural hair and relaxed hair, causes the relaxed hair to break off.  The addition of constant heat increases hair breakage.  Also, limit hair combing and brushing because it places a strain on the hair.

I transitioned for about seven months before I decided to do a big chop.  I had a little breakage in the front of my head, but my hair still looked great.  I washed and set my hair, on magnetic rollers, once a week.  After I took the rollers out, I then would flat iron the new growth (new hair growth that wasn't relaxed).  At night, I would either wrap my hair or pin curl it and tie it up with a silk headscarf.  My hair would frizz up normally if I went outside, but it still looked nice because I would have big curls from the rollers.  I didn't want to flat iron my whole head straight because I knew my relaxed hair and new growth wouldn't blend well once it frizzed up.  In June 2009, I started getting two inches cut off every month until my big chop on September 12, 2009.

Transitioning DOs and DONTs:
  • DO weekly deep conditioning treatments
  • DO keep hair moisturized
  • DO keep your ends trimmed regulary
  • DO wear protective hairstyles
  • DONT apply heat constantly
  • DONT comb and brush hair excessively (use wide tooth combs)
  • DONT pull hair into tight pony tails or braids

Here are some style you can wear, when transitioning from relaxed to natural hair, if you're uncomfortable cutting it off completely.
  1. Twist outs
  2. Hair braids
  3. Sew-in weaves
  4. Roller sets
  5. Flat twists
  6. Double strand twists
  Hair weaves and braids should not be left in hair longer than 3 months in order to prevent the new growth and hair underneath from breaking off and becoming matted.  Do not braid your hair too tight because it will cause breakage.  It is important to keep your scalp and hair, underneath the weave and braids, clean and moisturized.

A month and a week before my last relaxer, in December 2008.  All of my hair was flat ironed and I needed to recolor my new growth

2 months transitioning in April 2009.  I flat ironed my entire head.

4 months transitioning in June 2009. I set my hair on rollers and then wrapped it so it wouldn't be so big.
6 months of transitioning in August 2009.  This was two weeks before my big chop.  I had seven inches cut off at this point.  My hair was set on rollers and I flat ironed my new growth.

Jada Pinkett Smith with braids
These are the magnetic rollers I used to set my hair.  The hair on the three front middle rollers, were the only pieces of hair that was rolled going to the front.  The rest of my hair was rolled going to the back or down to the side.  I rolled my hair this way, so that it could fall the way I wanted it to.
This is how flat twists look on relaxed hair.  This is similar to how you would corn row, but instead only two pieces of hair is used. I set the ends on rods, so that it will be curly and not straight on the ends.  You can flat twist your hair in any fun pattern and size.      
Closer picture of a flat twist, but this is on my natural hair.  Flat twists look the same on relaxed and natural hair.
Double strand twists.  My hair is all natural on here so the ends curl on their own.  For relaxed hair, you should set the ends of your hair on rods.  This will allow your relaxed ends to curl under. 

This is a twist out (untwisting flat twists or double strand twists) on relaxed hair with some new growth.
This is another twist out on relaxed hair, but the waves are bigger because the twists were bigger.    
Twist out on my best friend's hair that's not fully relaxed.

Roller set on hair that isn't fully relaxed
Another roller set. 
Full sew-in weave.  All of my hair was braided underneath.

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  1. what are the best ways to keep hair clean under a sew-in.. i heard sea breeze dries out the braids underneath...

  2. It's virtually impossible to keep hair braided, underneath a sew-in, clean. The most important thing you want to make sure is that your scalp is clean. Product buildup will suffocate your scalp, causing a decrease in hair growth. The best way to clean hair, under a sew-in, is a simple shampoo (to remove product buildup)

  3. were you afraid to get the big chop?

  4. I actually wasn't afraid to get my big chop. I did it off impulse. Once I cut all my hair off, I was really nervous. After getting lots of compliments from friends and strangers, I started to become comfortable with my natural short hair.

  5. how long did it take for your hair to get to the length it is now ?

  6. It took me about two years to get to the length that I'm at now, but I've gotten my hair cut several times between.

  7. Were you nervous about what your hair texture woulx look like after your big chop? Is your texture now the same way it was while transitioning?