Do’s and Don’ts of Transitioning to Natural Hair


The Do's and Don'ts of Transitioning to Natural Hair

DO…

Eliminate direct heat like flat irons, blow dryers, etc. as much as possible.  Use hooded dryers on a medium setting (or lower) for as little time possible.  (Read my guide on straightening transitioning hair).

I stopped using direct heat 2 months into my transition.

DO…

natural-girl Learn to embrace your texture.  It’s easy to get caught up in someone else’s head, but chances are your hair isn’t like theirs.  So don’t waste your time wishing you had someone else’s crown. It will leave you disappointed and exhausted. Love what God gave you.  Read my post about changing your hair texture here.

DO…

Deep condition weekly with moisturizing conditioners. This will help strengthen and soften your new growth, relaxed hair and prevent breakage.

A lot of new transitioners complain about coarse and unmanageable new growth. Let me tell you that deep conditioning is key to dealing with this. After doing this consistently for 6-8 weeks (I use Organics Olive Oil Replenisher), I noticed a changed in my hair’s manageability and texture.

This is especially important if you’ve used a lot of direct heat (flat irons, blow dryers) on your hair. Even a minimal amount of heat damage can make your hair texture feel worse than it truly is.

And unless you carefully moisturize your new growth before flat ironing (and most people don’t) you probably have some heat damage. This can be misleading and it makes you think your hair is more coarse than it is. Your hair is probably just fried and starving for moisture.

DO…

Wear a lot of protective styles.  Rod sets, twist outs, braid outs, flat twists, buns, braids/extensions (not too tight), straw sets, etc. should become your go-to styles.  See my posts on styling transitioning hair.

DO…

Limit combing, pulling (tight ponytails) and manipulation.  The above hairstyles do not require combing.  The only time you should comb your hair is when you detangle on wash day.

Use sulfate-free shampoos.  Sulfates strip your hair of its natural oils.  Natural hair can be dry enough, you don’t need help from sulfates.  The Giovanni line is my fave.

DO…

Trim your ends every 4-6 weeks.  If you have split ends, they will travel up to your natural hair and cause breakage.

DO…

Give yourself a hot oil treatment at least once a month.  You will be amazed at how this will strengthen your hair!

DO…

Try Carol’s Daughter’s transitioning kit.  Man, I wish this had been around in my early days of transitioning when my hair was dry, brittle and I didn’t know what products to try.

I spent a bunch of money testing different products until I found a collection that worked for me.

Since so many people are going natural now, you can bet more and more companies will start creating products targeted toward transitioning to natural hair.  It’s about time!

DO…

Thank God I'm Natural Read Thank God I’m Natural.

I bought this book right after I began transitioning. It was such a good read, I almost finished the entire book in one sitting.

The author squashes a lot of myths about going natural and I especially enjoyed the part where she discusses natural hair in the workplace.

A lot of women worry that going natural will prevent them from getting a job or cause discrimination in the workplace.

Chris-Tia used her own experiences to illustrate how having natural hair had no negative impact on her job.  She continued to excel and even got promoted.

This is a good book if you struggle with the confidence to go natural and need inspiration.

DO…

Visit and join the Napturally Curly Transitioning and Natural Hair Forums and get support and questions answered from other transitioners and naturals.

It’s a growing, friendly community where you can come share your joys and woes about your natural hair journey.

If you don’t have the support of friends and family, this is a great place to commune with like-minded people who can relate to what you’re going through.

You must register here first.

DO

Read my FAQ’s on transitioning.  People often ask me the same questions about transitioning — from products, dryness, to hairstyling, breakage and more.  So I’ve compiled all my answers on one page.

Twist Out Puff

Twist Out Puff – 13 Months

DON’T…

Make assumptions about your hair texture too early.  It will likely change as you continue to transition.  In my 2nd month of transitioning, my new growth felt dry, coarse and brittle.

My hair follicles were extremely damaged, so even after I stopped relaxing I was still growing scab hair.  At first, I thought this was my hair’s texture, but it wasn’t.  This is the very reason many people stop transitioning.

But as I continued to deep condition weekly and lay off the direct heat, my hair softened up.  I started seeing curl definition and my hair began retaining moisture better.

So don’t be fooled by your new growth’s texture while you are relaxing and when you start transitioning.  You may be going through the scab hair period.

The good news is, most people stop growing scab hair 3-6 months after starting their transition.

DON’T…

Listen to ignorant peers, friends and family.  Why should there be anything wrong with wanting to wear your hair the way you came into this world?

Unfortunately kinky hair is often seen as the ugliest/worst kind of hair to have, but that’s only because we are comparing it to the majority, which is straight, Euro-centric hair.

If everyone had kinky hair there would be no class system of hair and comparisons.  We have been brainwashed to believe straighter hair is more beautiful because that’s what society feeds us (through magazines, TV, etc.)

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.   As long as you feel your hair is beautiful, why should anyone else’s opinion matter?  Trust me, it may take some time to get to this level, but it will happen eventually.

Worried that men won’t find you as attractive, read this article on men and natural hair.

Also check out this article on how to handle naysayers of natural hair.

Are you a teen transitioning or considering it? Check out this motivational article I wrote in case you are struggling with your decision to go natural or worried about not fitting in.

DON’T…

Coat your hair with too many products. As your hair grows out, you may feel the need to “fix it” by using multiple products. Product overload can suffocate your strands, cause breakage and make your hair appear dull.

Your hair does not need to be “fixed.” Learn to embrace whatever grows out of your head.

My Hair Doesn't Need to Be Fixed!

(Get the above image on a T-SHIRT.)

A light moisturizer 3-5 times a week should be enough for most people. You can seal in the moisture with a natural oil like olive, castor, coconut, jojoba, sweet almond, etc.

How often you need to moisturize will depend on your hair.  Go by how it feels. When your hair is moisturized it feels soft and may even have a dull sheen/shine.  If your hair starts feeling dry/rough, it’s time to re-apply.

DON’T…

Become a product junkie.  This is sort of like the pot calling the kettle here.  I’m a self-proclaimed product junkie.  I have been for many years, even when I was relaxing.

It got worse when I started transitioning because I was obsessed with trying to achieve someone else’s hair by using the products they use.  I talk about this very issue in this video.

The only products you need are a good shampoo, conditioner (leave-in and rinse out) and a few daily moisturizers (preferably natural oils.)  See my favorite transitioning product page.

DON’T…

Get caught up in rules and judgments.  There are a lot of naturals who have definitions of what wearing natural hair means.  Some become anti weave, anti colored contacts, anti straight hair, and anything that is not “natural.”

Remember, this is your journey.  Find out what being natural means to you.  Don’t let other’s opinions shape your actions and beliefs about what you have to do and cannot do because you wear natural hair.  Also be careful of criticizing others just because they don’t share your journey or opinions.

I think it’s great when going natural inspires people to live healthier lives.  But it’s not cool when that turns into judging others for their choices and opinions.

DON’T…

Expect acceptance from everyone.  Let’s just keep it real for a minute.  A lot of people don’t like and will never like natural hair.  Period.  End of story.  There’s nothing you can do to make everyone approve of your choice.

But your real friends and people who genuinely love and support you will respect your decision, even if they don’t embrace your choice of hairstyle.

Naysayers of natural hair are everywhere, but at some point you have to live life for yourself and not for other people’s acceptance.

I can tell you now.  Going natural is not for people who are too concerned with other people’s opinions.  You will quickly discover how confident you have to be to take this journey.

PLEASE READ: I am often asked for product recommendations. I can only tell you what worked for me. You have to experiment to figure out the best regimen/products for your hair. So please use my information as a guide and understand everyone’s hair responds to products differently.

View my transitioning hairstyles.

Comments

  1. sharon stroud says

    help please Lisa i have been natual for 7 years but i still have problems with my hair tho I am not totaly natural i still press my hair not hard becasue i have very fine and some what thin hair can you think of any styles for me i have and still do use the flexi rods and love the look they give me but looking for something that can stand a good workout in the gym.

    • Cierra Johnson says

      Try braiding styles it works for me and when you keep your hair braided the more it will grow and try not to use the flat iron probably only once a month

  2. says

    This is the BEST post on natural and transitioning that I’ve ever seen. I have been contemplating for the past 3-4 years and I’m tired of attempting to tame my hair. The one thing that I wish there was more of is older women (late 30′s early 40′s) transitioning and going through hair texture changes due to menopause, surgeries, and/or cancer. All the women always appear to be in their early-late 20′s, and at that stage in live, hair is different. Still this site has been the most informative and educational. Thank you so much for sharing and this site will now be one of my favorites as I begin my transition next week with my first appointment for a twist style.

    • Sjamie says

      I am healthy and in my mid-40′s. In may of this year 2013 I have started my hair transition journey. I just lost 35 pounds last year by exercising and eating healthy…so after 20 years of relaxed hair..it only seemed natural for me to explore my roots..lol I’m sure I will shock a lot of folks that are used to seeing me a certain way..Good luck with your journey

    • Bonnie Price says

      Hi Niki,

      I’m a new transitioner, I’m 42. Find my story on the forum share your story. My user name is startingover@42

    • Shelley says

      Hi Nikki, I have been relaxing for many years, and have decided to go natural. I am also going throught the “change” as well…I don’t put a lot of heat in my hair and either pin curl it or braid it nightly. I use various argon oil, olive oil and coconut milk shampoos, conditioners and leave in conditioners. So far my hair is doing well, and continues to grow. For the summer months, or sooner, I will wear braids (medium sized, and not tight) that usually really helps my hair to grow in healthy. I do not want to cut out my perm as that will make my hair very short….been there, done that, don’t want to do it again!

      Will keep you posted on my progress. Oh, btw, I am in my early 50′s.

  3. Robin Poli says

    I have thick coarse hair that looks great when it is relaxed. I have been experimenting with other products and forgot how much I love the Shielo Restoration Oil.

    I use the Shielo Oil on my hair for conditioning every few days (depending on hair dullness). My hair looks amazingly shiny and more manageable. It also helps me prevent split ends. Recently I was in a wedding and we used it as a finisher for my upsweep. The hair stylist was amazed, she commented she had never seen hair with so much sheen.

  4. Lashetha says

    Hi, I’m 15 and mixed and have 3c/4a hair and never had a relaxer. so this summer i went completely natural but last no heat or anything and used to wear my hair in a bun nonstop but i won’t to wear my natural hair. But im afraid i will get made fun of or people won’t be able to see over my head. my family wants me to do it but im scared. plus is their anyway to lengthen curls.

  5. says

    hey i’m 14 and i want to go natural but i have really short hair at the back of my head and long on the sides but i really want to go natural and i don’t know how to start right now

    • Cierra Johnson says

      First you should try to keep your hair braided a lot because that brings new growth also stay away from flat irons blow dryers etc. Don’t perm your hair at all if u want to grow natural also deep conditioner works and usually the relaxed hair takes about 5-8 months to grow out And I’m 12 This is my 4 month transitioning my relaxed hair to natural and I hope this helps

  6. Kea says

    I have been natural for about 3.5 years now; however, been wearing braids or some type of hairstyle where my hair wasn’t exposed or wasn’t able to wash it on the regular. I decided about two months ago to start wearing my natural hair out, now I am unsure what to do with it. I am washing it constantly, every day, which I know is bad on my hair; however, my hair is really coarse, dry and dull. I have tried the two strand twist, but when I laydown at night and wake up the next day my hair is very dry, dull and matted,. to the reason why I wash it daily. How do you avoid washing it daily and from it being matted each day. Please help!

    • Diamond Hill says

      Im the going natural to and u wash it at . Least 1 every two weeks and and for those two strands twist try to buy olive oil moisturizer spray when it get dry and stuff. Also when u try to go to bed just wrap ur head scraf around it or anything u have to wrap around it. Then u use the moisturizer in the morning to give it shine and to make it soft and fluff it up and
      the great thing is its organic

  7. DANAH HOLLOWAY says

    I’VE BEEN NATURAL SINCE NOV OF 2012, IM PLEASED WITH THE GROWTH AND STRENGTH IN MY HAIR AND I HAVE NOT DONE THE BIG CHOP I ENCOURAGE EVERYONE TO HANG IN THERE. THERE WILL BE SOME DAYS YOU LOVE YOUR STYLES AND OTHERS NOT SO MUCH BECOME CREATIVE AND PLAY WITH YOUR HAIR THAT IS THE ONLY WAY YOU WILL BE ABLE TO KNOW WHAT WORKS !

    • Toni Grabely says

      How long was your hair when you decided to go natural? I’m attempting to go natural, 10 weeks without a perm, and right now I’m wearing a sew in, which should make the transition easier. My hair is long, but thin, and the longer it gets, the thinner it gets. I don’t have bad hair. I’m hoping by going natural, my hair will thicken up again. I don’t plan on doing the big chop, but to gradually trim off the relaxed hair. I still plan to maintain my “straight look” once I’m completely relaxer free. I have a professional stylist who takes care of my hair. Any advice and any details on your transition would be greatly appreciated.

  8. Nikki says

    I’ve been transitioning from Relaxed to natural for about a year now. The problem that I’m having is that my ends look really stringy. Any advice that could help me control this?

  9. Shannon says

    Hey Lisa,

    I hadn’t had a relaxer since December 2011. The back of my hair is completely natural, it’s just the front that still has some relaxer. Seems as if it’s nog growing out in the front. What could I do besides cutting it off?

    • lisa says

      It’s growing. I had the same issue. Your hair grows at different rates so it’s totally normal to be all natural in the back and slower progress up to and sides. My hair is still in layers with the back being longer. Nothing’s wrong. It’s just the way our hair often grows.

  10. Joy Armstrong says

    I need help with my natursl hair. I been natural for 2 years now and it been long journey .my hair dries out sogast and breakage OMG , so much hair everywhere ,I try everything but nothing seen to work ….please help

  11. olivia says

    Hey iam natural i cut my hair back on april 20th so im 3 months natural going on 4 months but i have yet to learn how to wear my hair at night, should i tie it down or put it in twist or braids…lately i just tie it down

  12. Ann says

    i want to share my testimony on how i gain my nature hair back in just three weeks: i had very thick curly hair.i straightened my hair 2 yr ago.they after some time started 2 fall out.i also having dandruff problem all d time, before i used shampoo called antidruf containing ketoconazole and tugain 2%(minoxidil) have stopped using chemical one year ago.but still i am loosing a lots of hair everyday and my hair has become so thin. when a friend of my visit me and i explain how i lose my hair every day, she told me she was having the same problem 3 months ago and he contacted DR OPINGO online, i please with grace and she gave me DR OPINGO email, i email him immediately and explain about my hair to him, he told me not to worry that he is going to help me out.After DR OPINGO have prepared the spell cream i use for good three weeks my hair grow fast and was very thick, all my girl friends love and cherish my hair thank you DR you can contact his email at: ([email protected]) his cream will make your hair grow faster and thicker.

  13. Helen wilder says

    I totally suck at doing hair, so I keep a perm, I never wash it only go to the salon to have my stylist do what need to be done, the problem is the perm fry’s my scalp with in minutes, I want to go natural , but afraid of what to do, because I don’t know how to style it or care for it. Please advise

  14. Natalie says

    hi lisa

    it has been 4wks since my last relaxer. I have a boy cut and last been to my hair stylist who I have been going to for 15yrs to have her wash and condition it. the back and sides are completely natural because it was shaved down but the top is still a little long. I had my hair stylist cut it down as low as she can. I don’t want to wear a wig weaves or braids. Where can I go with it now ? I wash condition and moisturize with oils. fyi I also have itchy dry scalp :(

  15. Diamond says

    Hi im 15 & I just recently just started going natural , my hair used to be long until I permed it. Now my hair is SL and dry and brittle & I have split ends . I dont know what to do , please help .

  16. Rakael says

    I am so ready to be completely natural! I have been transitioning for months now and I am considering the big chop. My husband is completely against the short hair and my son says I don’t have the face for it–how discouraging. My hair is in really bad shape as it stands. I have split ends, breakage, and overall damage. The two textures are hideous so I wear a lot of ponytails – I don’t wear weaves or wigs. On most days I must resist the urge to whack off my hair, apply my make-up and go. I am just feeling a little anxious and eager, at the same time.

  17. TJ says

    If we purchase the Carol’s Daughter Transitioning Kit, do we use her regiment in addition to all the things you mentioned above (i.e. deep conditioning/wk, hot oil treatment/month, daily moisturizing, etc.) or will her Kit replace all those steps in the process? Sorry if this is a dumb question… I just wanted to make sure I’m not over-”producting” my hair. Also, if Braids are our style of choice and we are to trim our hair every month or so, does that mean new braid/extensions monthly as well?

    • lisa says

      Not a dumb question at all. I would still use a leave-in conditioner after you use the kit and a moisturizer throughout the week if your hair gets dry.

  18. Cece says

    Hi Lisa, am a 20 year old and am going through a transition with my permed hair. It’s been 3 months now n I haven’t permed it but I find it difficult combing. I really have dry hard hair. I seriously don’t know what to do because combing the hair is quite stressful and is just breaking . Please help me out.

  19. Chanel says

    Hi, I’m 25 years old and I had my last relaxer in October 2013. After seeing pictures of myself long time ago when my hair was thick as it can be few months back, I’ve decided that enough is enough with getting my hair relax. I’m currently transiting to natural hair. So excited to go back to my roots. I have decided not to do the big chop. I have seen a lot of new growth lately and is very pleased so far. My hair is past my shoulder. I’m just wondering when will all of the relaxer be completely grown out?

    • neceyluv says

      Chanel, it really depends on how often you trim. Of course, the more often you trim, the shorter time it will take. If you don’t trim your hair at all, I’m guessing it’s going to take at least a year. I don’t recommend not trimming because the ends of your hair are the longest and more prone to damage. Yes you’ll wind up with long hair, but you’ll have to trim off at least an inch.

  20. Tineisha says

    I found this article very helpful, all the do and don’t were very informative. I am transitioning to natraul hair it’s been almost 6 months since my last texturiser. And let’s just say I’m feeling a lil discouraged I like my knew growth that I’m seeing and texture, but I noticed my hair is braking a lot it’s very dry and thin at the ends. My hair was just about 18inches and today I decided to do a trim just to about bra strap length. I would like to know what can I do to stop breakage and to get my end more hydrated. Please help

    • neceyluv says

      Tineisha, its hard to say since you didn’t say what you’re using and what your regimen is, but it sounds as if your hair needs regular moisturizing – water is the best moisturizer for natural hair – as well as a protein treatment and a good trim. Continue reading and taking notes, comparing it to what you currently do, to see if there’s anything you need to change. Many times its just a small thing that makes all the difference.

      Good luck!

  21. Ruth says

    As a result of heat damage, hair loss, and relaxers, I’ve decided to transition to natural. No turning back. I know this is a decision I won’t regret.

  22. davladybug says

    I’m in the process of transitioning. I haven’t had a relaxer in nine months. My hair is at the bottom of my neck. However, the back and sides are thin, damaged and broken off. I want to go through this process without cutting my hair.

    I’m a product junkie. Bathroom cabinets filled with all kinds of products. My hair texture is changing and I’m noticing it is softer.

    My BIG problem is I work out five days a week in the morning before work. After I work out I have a 4 inch bush with 5 or 6 inches of permed hair. I usually end up washing, conditioning, blow drying and flat ironing my hair everyday. I know this is not good. What would you recommend for a daily wash and conditioning while I’m still flat ironing my hair.

    Thank you

  23. Whitney daniels says

    Hi Im Whitney I am a 20 year old and am going through a transition with my permed hair. It’s been 4 months now n I haven’t permed it but I find it difficult combing. I really have dry hard hair. I seriously don’t know what to do because combing the hair is quite stressful and is just breaking it sheds a lot when I comb it Please help me out.

  24. Jovita Irby says

    I have wavy hair but it’s not natural yet. How can I start the natural process without cutting off my hair? Do you know of any products that will bring out my natural waves (being a natural & not being a natural)?

  25. Diamond Hill says

    One question for me I did have permed hair if I wait a year and dont trim at all while im transitioning on going natural whenbi do get it trimmed would I have to cut an inch off. If so when I do would I be done transitioning and would my hair be all natural

  26. says

    I have been transitioning from my “California Curl” since I first got it in August of 2013. I realized that I didn’t want to repeat the process, so I have allowed my hair to grow out since being cut down to one inch to initially get the curl. The best that I can tell my hair has grown approximately three inches and I was about to do something “drastic” when I came upon this website. Thank God! I know that I could probably have done it myself, but I decided to go to a professional for a deep conditioning and a twist and then I will practice getting it right for myself after that.

    I’m sure that I’ll need my ends clipped and a deep conditioning, but what products should I keep on hand for maintenance between the salon appointments?

  27. Nene Agada says

    I have been thinking of taking the big step of transitioning but was still confused but after reading your article; am sure i want to do this. So plz how do i start? Am still confused on that. Should i take off the weavon am on now?

  28. ashanti says

    hi, I’ve recently started to go natural. Its been three to four months and I can see my roots getting its natural curl ( I am quarter Sicilian so my hair is thick) but my ends are still somewhat strait. I’ve been using the bantu knots and switch between those and bun styles. I comb my hair out every night idk if that’s a good or bad thing? And I’ve been using Motion hair products in my hair as well. Should I start using more natural products and if so what products?

    • Diamond Hill says

      Me to and the products I try is called beauty textures and it has stuff like curl control pudding which is great for 2strand twists and deep conditioners and all kind of products that are natural

  29. Maya says

    Ive had a relaxer since i was 7 and im 12 years old now.I really wanted to go natural and i have been for 2 weeks.I at one time had a hard time in wondering if my natural hair was too ”nappy”.To be honest i dont remeber how my natural hair was before i got a relaxer.im not doing a big chop because ive decided to do the long term transitioning.My natural hair roots are curly and coily.Im having a hard time adjusting to my roots and i dont have time to do my hair because im doing sports.My permed ends have puffed out so now my hair is really hard to comb,especially in the middle.So please give me advice on HOW to come my roots and a couple of hairstyles that will work with my curly/coily roots and my puffy ends

  30. purety says

    Am tricia,am into this transition since Nov. 2013 ie 6months now and am not having any problems because am following a good regime my mum taught me.I also add it to my own regime using natural products you can find in your kitchen. : )

  31. Kira says

    I’m 34 and when I was 25 I got a texturizer not knowing it was a type of relaxer. After that I just started getting relaxers. Before the texturizer and relaxers my hair had springy curls and waves and it was waist length. After cutting periodically my hair is still waist length but relaxer. I want to transition (last relaxer was March 1st) but, I am unsure of what exactly to do now. What are my next steps? I’ve read up about what to do and what not to do but, how does one transition my length of hair? I looked up braided styles but they are all false hair. Is it alright to braid my own hair?

  32. kai says

    Hi I’m 16yrd old an im in my first month of transitioning to natural from relaxed hair but i really don’t see much of a difference is there anything I should use to see a difference help please

  33. Christine says

    Hi! I’m a little confused about deep conditioning and shampooing. I have been transitioning for 4 years now, and I somewhat have a routine, but there are so many different videos and information that I am not sure what is the right thing to do. So my questions are, do you deep condition before or after you wash? And when you deep condition every week, do you use shampoo with it or do you shampoo once a month? Hope someone can help. Thank you!!

    • says

      you deep condition after you wash and also try Olive Oil Replenisher it helps your hair soft. and also you get to pick when you want to wash your hair just not every day everybody hair is different so it your choice. I just want to help you because it looked that you needed help good luck!

  34. says

    I’m going to be 16 next month and I wanted a natural curl , but I’ve always gotten a relaxer for as long as I can remember. Is it too late to start going natural? Another question I have is: can I just not get a relaxer and just get it washed, conditioned, and a full set and get a trim every two months or do I have to wear the extensions to help make it healthier?

    • says

      no it not to late to go natural you can go natural any time you want. also your not supposed to put relaxer on your that like starting over I just wanted to help you and give you some tips!

NEED HELP? It's getting very difficult to answer all comments individually, so please consider joining the Napturally Curly forum to get faster help and answers to your questions about your hair.


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