Transitioning from permed or relaxed hair to natural hair should be an exciting time for you. It should not be a time of intimidation or of a feeling of loss. Many women face objections from boyfriends, husbands, family and even in the workplace. While we can't help you with those social and political pressures, we can give you some tips on what to expect and how to make the transition as easy as possible.
What to Expect When Transitioning to Natural Hair
People often ask us how they can make their relaxed hair "revert" back to natural hair. The true answer is you cannot. Nothing will make hair that has been chemically relaxed go back to its natural state. You have two choices, you can live with the permed hair at the end of the natural hair that is coming in or you can cut the permed hair off. Should you decide you just can't let go of that length, be prepared for some breakage. The place where the natural hair joins the permed hair is a weak point. Many people experience a lot of breakage when growing out a perm. By treating the hair gently and minimizing combing during the transitioning stage, you can minimize the breakage. How much breakage you get is dependent on your hair type and how you treat your hair during the process. Baka Beautiful's Natural-Laxer MIX is excellent for minimizing breakage during this phase. By gently softening the natural hair and strengthening the entire hair, the Natural-Laxer makes the transition from permed hair to natural hair easier and less traumatic.
How to Make the Transition to Natural Hair
There are a few basic ways to make the transition to natural hair. The simplest is to just cut off the permed hair and live with a short hair style for several months. This is the boldest way. But, takes the least amount of work and there's no worry about breakage.
- Cut off the relaxed hair- depending on how much new growth and your preferences you have a few styling options. You can wear a TWA (tweeny weeny afro) or twists (two strand or comb twists) pretty easily with almost any length hair. For other styling ideas visit Natural and Transition Hair Styles for Black Women
- Braids and/or extensions- you can have your hair braided until it grows to a length where you feel comfortable cutting off the new growth and going with other styling options
- Sisterlocks- SisterLocks can be started with one and one half inches of new growth at the scalp. They are similar to dread locks but with a look more like micro braids or very small twists. They leave you with many styling options. For more information (including pictures) go to http://www.sisterlocks.com
- Other Transition Styles- see below for more ideas of styles to wear while making the transition from relaxed to natural hair.
How Not to Make the Transition to Natural Hair
Transitioning to natural hair in other ways, like pressing the natural hair as it grows in underneath the relaxed hair, are going to make your hair prone to breakage and can damage the natural hair you're trying to grow in. Products that claim to revert permed hair might make it frizzy, but are not going to really make it natural. You do not want to put chemicals on top of chemicals in your hair. You will only end up damaging the hair and get even more breakage than you would experience otherwise. While transitioning, try to find a style that will accommodate the new growth coming in like twists or braids.
Finding a Natural Hair Transition Style
This may be the biggest challenge of all about going natural (besides the comments from your friend and co-workers). How do you style your hair when it's very short or when some of it is nappy and the rest is straight. There are several options. Here are a few:
- TWA- do the Big Chop and just wear a Tweeny Weeny Afro
- Braids or SisterLocks- SisterLocks can be started with as little as 1-1/2" of new growth at the scalp.
- Two Strand or Comb Twists- simple yet effective. If you decide to cut your hair, you can just use some styling gel (like Black Earth's Lock It Up Gel) and part your hair into sections. Either twist on a comb or take two strands and twist them around each other. Your hair can be worn like this for several days before having to re-style. CAUTION: Hair that is left twisted for too long can begin to lock. So, unless you want locks, take it down every once in a while.
- Straw Set- this is a great style if you want to keep your permed hair. The tight curls make the different textures (your roots and ends) less noticeable.
- Crinkle Set or Twist Out- by braiding or twisting your hair using a setting gel, you can create a wavy/crinkly look that minimizes the different textures of your hair. This is a very simple and very cute style. You can wear your hair in twists or braids for a while, then remove them and wear the "twist out" look.
- Flat Twists- basically the same as cornrows. The difference is you use two strands of hair instead of three.
How To Do a Straw Set
As your new growth gets to about an inch or so, you'll really begin to notice the transition between the natural hair and the permed hair. This hair style protects the hair by minimizing strain on the place where the hair is most vulnerable because you can just "finger comb" your hair. It might take a little while when you first try this. But, as you get practice, this style doesn't take that long to do.
You will need:
* A pack of plastic drinking straws (For slightly larger and looser curls, use small perm rods- available at many beauty supply stores)
* End papers
* Bobby pins
* Black Earth Crinkles & Curls or other setting lotion (make sure it's alcohol free)
* Light hair oil
Step 1: Shampoo and condition your hair and blot dry with a towel.
Step 2: Part you hair into 1/4 to 1/2 inch sections
Step 3: Place end papers on to ends of your hair.
Step 4: Roll your hair onto the straws or perm rods and secure it with a hair pin.
Step 5: Repeat steps 2-4 until you have finished your entire head.
Step 6: Dry your hair under a hooded dryer.
Step 7: Gently remove the straws and separate the curls.
Step 8: Spray with a light oil and continue to spray with oil on a daily basis.
How To Do Flat Twists
You will need:
* Black Earth Crinkles & Curls or other setting lotion (alcohol free please)
* Bobby pins
1. Shampoo and condition your hair and blot dry with a towel.
2. Part your hair using a rat tail comb to make the parts clean and straight.
3. Put styling gel onto hair for greater hold.
4. Separate the section into 2 strands at the hairline.
5. Wind one strand over the other, picking up hair as you move down the section.
6. Secure the twist with a bobby pin placed parallel and underneath the twist.
7. You can either twist right to the back of your head or leave hair out at the ends and roller set or straw set.
How To Do the Twist Out Look
You will need:
* Setting lotion (Black Earth Crinkles & Curls or Treasured Locks Locks of Curls Pomade & Gel are perfect for this)
* Hair Oil (any good hair oil will do- Treasured Locks H2G Hair Growth Serum, Hair & Scalp Elixir are great)
1. Wet hair
2. Add oil
3. Braid hair or twist it using the setting lotion
4. You can wear the braids or twists for a day (or two or three)
5. Remove the braids and leave the hair crinkly for a few days
6. Wear a cap at night or rebraid to maintain the style