By Terez Howard

Going from relaxed, permed hair to natural hair can be quite an experience. You have two textures that are very different vying for your attention. On the one end, there’s the straight, chemically processed hair, and on the other, newly found curls and coils. Transitioning to natural hair should be made as easy as possible.

If you are ready to cross over into the natural world and you are not concerned with length, go for the big chop and sport the teeny weeny afro. Since most are not so daring, you can gradually transition to natural hair by wearing natural hair styles, like a twists, a twist out, Bantu knots and straw sets. These hair styles  help your new growth to blend with your permed hair. You can grow your new growth to a comfortable length and then do the big chop. You also have the option of getting Sisterlocks installed. Sisterlocks do not require you cut your relaxed hair.

What To Expect With Your New Growth

When you’re transitioning to natural hair, you will notice your new growth feels crunchy, hard and unmanageable. According to the book Going Natural: How to Fall in Love With Nappy Hair, these strands need time to heal, and this hair has been wounded from a relaxer. The book notes that scabbing develops on individual strands as a protective reaction. So, if your new growth feels hard, know that is just part of the process.

As your new growth has more time to grow, your scalp and natural hair will heal. The book says that some naturals notice their hair heals after three months, while others do not experience any scabbing at all.

Transitioning Tips

  • Detangle your two textures by dividing the hair in 8 to 12 manageable sections, working from the tips to the roots. Wet, well-moisturized hair is easiest to work with.
  • Breakage is inevitable. You will notice the most breakage at the line of demarcation and on your ends.
  • Trim your hair every 6 to 8 weeks. You can avoid split ends, breakage and have easier detangling sessions by regularly trimming.
  • Set a big chop deadline, if necessary.
  • Experiment with natural hair styles. It will be exciting to see some of the styles you will get to do on your natural hair.

Natural Hair Styles for Transitioning

If you big chop within the first few months of transitioning to natural hair, you don’t really need to worry about natural hair styles. Your two textures will not be noticeable. However, after a few months, depending on how fast your hair grows, you will need to start wearing hair styles that makes the two textures blend.

These natural hair styles can include: braids, braid-outs, two-strand twists, twist-outs, straw sets, roller sets and Bantu knots. It is best to choose styles that allow you to keep your natural hair undisturbed. Natural hair grows best when it is not manipulated often. So, less manipulation means more natural hair growth, getting you closer to having a head full of completely natural hair.

When you are transitioning to natural hair, you can choose to have Sisterlocks installed by a consultant or trainee. You do not have to get any of your permed hair cut. Once your consultant or trainee believes your natural hair can stand a cut and will not unravel, you can have your permed ends cut. You must be aware that Sisterlocks are not just another natural hair style. Sisterlocks are micro-locks, which cannot be easily removed. They are not designed to be removed at all.

The Big Chop

The big chop (or BC, as you will see on many natural hair care websites and blogs) is the time when you cut out your relaxed hair. There is no best time to do this. Some transition to natural hair for one month, do the big chop and rock the teeny weeny afro. Others might transition for several months or even a year or more.

After you do the BC, remember to be very gentle with your new natural hair. Consider a no-poo routine. Deep condition regularly, at least once every other week until your hair gains strength. Also, keep your new natural hair moisturized with water or products like shea butter, jojoba oil or aloe vera.

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