Sunday, 28 September 2014

How To Transition From A Relaxer To Natural Hair

2 years post relaxer - Transitioning hair bunned up

I transitioned successfully for two years and thought I would share my experience. 



Washdays were especially time consuming because detangling two completely different textures was no joke. I made sure to set aside enough time for it so I would not have to hurry through the whole process especially the detangling part.

two textures clearly visible on transitioning hair

2. Keeping new growth stretched
My hair was most tangled at the point where the relaxed and the natural hair met. By keeping the new growth stretched, I made sure the normal shed hair was not getting caught up here causing further tangles which led to breakage. The simplest way to do this was by doing single twists, flat twists and braids.

3. Regular deep condition and hot oil treatments

These keep hair moisturised and easier to manage. Concentrate on the point where the two textures meet. I did a weekly pre wash hot oil treatment and weekly moisturising deep conditioning treatment.


4. Protein treatment

Protein helps bind moisture to your hair and improve elasticity. I did a monthly protein treatment (using Aphogee 2 Step Treatment) followed by a moisturising deep conditioning treatment. A biweekly mild protein treatment works just as well.


5. Giving up or reducing direct heat

I already did this even before my transition. First and foremost for the sake of my hair health but also because I hate blow drying. I limited the use of blow dryers and flat irons to once or twice per year. I did, and still do, sit under the hooded dryer to help speed up the time my hair takes to dry.
6.Embracing textured styles
Twists outs, flat twists outs, braid outs, bantu knot outs are really good hair styles to blend the two textures. It also means you do not have to fight the ever losing battle to get your new growth to look straight. Perm rods on the ends of your twists gives a really nice fuller curly  look.

Flat twist out on transitioning hair

7. Regular trimming
I trimmed every month to freshen my ends and keep split ends at bay thus avoiding tangles and even more breakage. I was not  too concerned with gaining length as I knew the relaxed hair would eventually have to be cut .

Transitioning hair just before the relaxed ends were cut off


- Constantly moisturising which just caused my detangled hair to tangle all over again because it made the new growth shrink.

- Loved roller sets as a relaxed head but it was a disaster on my transitioning hair as my new growth tangled.

- Using brushes or combs to detangle. Tried them all, tangle teezer, all manner of combs and even the much touted denman brush; they just  caused too much breakage. I only ever finger detangled and still do as a full natural.
- Co washing between wash days did not work for my hair. It just led to unnecessary additional manipulation during styling which in turn led to more breakage.

Quick Tips:
  • There will be times when you feel like just throwing in the towel. What helped was twisting up my hair for a couple of weeks giving me much needed breaks.
  • Hairstyles will more often than not completely fail or come out different from what you imagined. Just throw your hair in a bun and call it a day. A cute scarf always comes in handy at such times.                                            
3 years post relaxer - fully transitioned


MBFA says: Take care of your hairline if you chose to transition by braiding with extensions. I transitioned completely the wrong way, not caring for my hair at all and in braids back to back. I experienced a lot of breakage and my hairline particularly at the temples was badly damaged.

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