Transitioning Hair: Its Stages and 12 Helpful Natural Hair Journey Tips
By Jacqueline Samaroo
Embracing your natural hair in all its curly, coily, and wavy splendor can be supremely empowering. It’s your natural curl pattern and your natural texture, and it’s absolutely gorgeous! But, let’s be honest… if you have chemically-treated hair, getting to natural is a lot easier said than done.
Caring for transitioning hair can be quite intense, both emotionally and in terms of the effort it takes – especially if you want to retain length while on your hair transitioning journey.
Keep reading to find out about the stages of transitioning hair as well as a dozen natural hair journey tips to help make it all less stressful and much more rewarding. Hey, lots of other beautifully natural women have done it and so can you!
From deciding to take the plunge to getting to the end of your natural hair growth journey, here’s how we’ll break it down:
- Making the decision to go natural
- Transitioning hair 1 to 3 months
- Transitioning hair 4 to 6 months
- Transitioning hair 7 to 9 months
- Transitioning hair 10 to 12 months
- A year and beyond
Here’s another great article with more natural hair growth journey before and after tips: 10 Ways to Make Transitioning to Natural Hair Easier
Making the decision to go natural
The decision to transition from relaxed to natural hair can take months (if not years) of deliberation. Perhaps, you’ve even started out on the natural hair journey once or a few times before only to get cold feet and give up. After all, if you’ve been relaxing your hair for a long time, you are now used to how to style your chemically-treated hair and what to expect from it.
Going natural can seem like uncharted and scary territory. Some women dive right in and opt for a TWA or to shave it all off. However, if length retention is very important to you, then transitioning can take up to a year or more. It’s a long-term commitment but one that’s totally doable if you have the right mindset and help along the way.
Helping is what we’re here to do! As you read, be sure to check out the links we’ll be sharing to some of our best posts on transitioning haircare.
Considering taking the short route on your natural hair journey, read:
- The New Big Chop- Taking Care of Your Short Natural Hair After Cutting It!
- Thinking of Shaving Off Your Natural Hair? Read This First!
Tip 1: Understand how natural hair grows.
Hair grows in a cycle with the actual growing or anagen phase for each strand of hair lasting anywhere from 2 to 7 years. During this time, the strand grows an average of half an inch per month.
Find out more about hair growth in these recent posts:
- 6 Reasons for Natural Hair Not Growing and Easy Ways to Remedy It
- Stress and Hair Loss: Here’s The Connection and 5 Ways to Break It
Tip 2: Be patient.
That half-inch of hair growth looks much shorter on curly hair than it does on straight hair. So, expect that along the way, you’ll probably be thinking that your hair is making no progress at all. Rest assured that it is. Use the coming months to get to know your natural hair and how to take good care of it as it grows.
This is one of the most important natural hair journey tips for you as you and your hair embark on this new phase of life.
Transitioning hair 1 to 3 months
There’s hardly any new growth there! For now, it might not be obvious to anyone but you that you are in the process of transitioning from relaxed to natural hair. It’s quite easy at this point to cover the new growth at your hairline under a chic headband.
Tip 3: Keep the line of demarcation in mind.
This is the fragile line where your processed hair meets your natural hair. And, it is where breakage is most likely to happen. Keeping this line of demarcation in mind is very important while on your natural hair growth journey.
Tip 4: Find out what works and what doesn’t.
There are a ton of natural hair care products and ones specifically geared toward making hair transitioning easier and successful. But, remember that what works for someone else might not work for you. Expect to do quite a bit of trial-and-error, experimenting to find what works best for your hair.
Check out these products that give a big assist to transitioning tresses: Transitioning Hair: 12 Must-Have Natural Hair Products.
Transitioning hair 4 to 6 months
You’ve got somewhere in the region of two to three inches of new growth to show. The line of demarcation is quite noticeable now and you may be considering protective styles more and more. There may also be the temptation to smooth out your curly roots with heat just so they match the straight ends of your hair.
Tip 5: Avoid or limit heat styling.
We know – heat styling can help make hair that’s transitioning look more uniform, better groomed. You have to think about that delicate line of demarcation, though. Heat can damage it much more easily than the other parts of your hair. It can also permanently change the curl pattern of your new natural hair growth – yikes!
Here are a few articles on heat and natural hair:
- Can Heat Damaged Hair Be Repaired? Here Are 15 Awesome Tips
- 7 Ways to Prevent Heat Damage to Natural Hair
- All About the Heat-Free, Chemical Free Jheri Curl for Natural Hair
- 27 Really Gorgeous No-Heat Natural Hair Styles
Tip 6: Protective styling can be a good thing… or not.
Protective styling can be a godsend. It can help protect that fragile line of demarcation and it takes some of the stress out of styling hair that’s two textures. However, beware of too-tight styles or wearing your hair in one style for an extended period.
- Protective Styles for Natural Hair Growth – 7 Great Points to Keep in Mind
- 7 Tips For Growing Out Your Natural Hair While Rocking a Protective Hair Style
Transitioning hair 7 to 9 months
Your hair transitioning journey is well underway with about four inches of new growth at the roots. Of course, the progress will seem much slower if your natural pattern is coily or tightly curled. Speaking of curl patterns, you should be able to make out what yours is just about now!
Tip 7: Remember moisture is your hair’s best friend.
Moisture helps your strands stay supple and elastic, minimizing the chance of breakage. It is an important part of the protein-moisture balance that your hair needs for optimal strength and length retention.
For more information on the protein-moisture balance and to find out how hair porosity fits into the mix, read:
- Natural Hair Care: Protein and Hair – 7 Questions Answered
- Protein Treatments for Hair Growth – 6 Things You Should Know
- Hair Porosity: What Is It and How Is Black Hair Affected?
Tip 8: Deep conditioners are a BIG help.
Deep conditioners are a great way to add moisture and loads of hair-healthy nutrients to your hair. Weekly deep conditioning usually works very well for transitioning strands but finding your own schedule is important. Expect that you’ll be able to deep condition less often (if you want to) once your hair has grown out completely.
Check out these articles about conditioners:
- 7 Best Deep Conditioners for Black Hair
- Natural Hair Care: 10 Amazing Cleansing Conditioners for Curly Hair
- 11 Fabulous Benefits of Leave-In Conditioner for Natural Hair
- 10 Popular Ingredients for Homemade Conditioner for Frizzy Hair
Transitioning hair 10 to 12 months
Your natural curl pattern is definitely visible – awesome, isn’t it?! If you have been trimming your ends on a regular schedule then perhaps most of your relaxed hair is already gone. This is often the time when many transitioning naturalistas decide embracing their lovely curls, waves, kinks, and coils trumps length retention any day!
Tip 9: Get regular trims.
Trims are vital for hair care, no matter the state of your hair (processed, natural, or transitioning). Regular trims help to get rid of split ends and single strand knots, both of which can lead to avoidable breakage.
Tip 10: Expect shedding.
It’s normal to lose about 100 strands of hair each day but transitioning hair tends to shed more especially if it’s not properly moisturized. Also, if you choose to rock a protective style for a while, expect to see accumulated shedding once you take the style down.
A year and beyond
How long your journey to completely natural hair takes is completely up to you. But, after a full year of having made the decision to go natural, you will find that you are now wonderfully familiar with your hair – what it likes, what’s best to keep it looking awesome, and the styles you love to wear it in. We hope our natural hair journey tips helped!
Tip 11: Keep up your wash day routine.
A weekly wash day helps you stay in touch with the state of your hair. It can be tempting to ease up on haircare, especially if you’ve already trimmed off all traces of relaxed hair. But, curly haircare is a constant job and very rewarding if you stick to your routines of regular washing, treatments, and trimming.
Here are a few hair rinse ideas you might like to add to your next wash day:
- 3 Really Awesome Hair Rinse DIY Ideas You Should Try!
- Rice Water Rinse for Curly Hair: What Is It, Benefits, and 3 EASY Rice Water Recipes
- Hair Oils: What is Oil Rinsing + 8 Reasons It’s So Good for Natural Hair
Tip 12: Think of your scalp as soil… really!
Healthy hair grows from a healthy scalp. It’s easy to forget scalp care because your scalp is (usually) hidden under your hair. However, you should aim to keep your scalp clean and fertile. Nourish it from the inside with the foods you eat and externally with the awesome natural hair products you use.
Kick your scalp care efforts up a notch, read:
- 10 Important Scalp Care Tips for Healthy Scalp and Hair
- Best Treatment for Dry Scalp – 5 DIY Remedies
- 8 Common Causes of Dry Scalp Plus Easy Ways to Tell It’s Not Dandruff
- How to Treat Dry Scalp – 6 Simple and Effective Lifestyle Changes
Do you have any other natural hair growth journey before and after tips? Share!