Here are some essential products you’ll want to have on hand as you transition.
Hair Cutting Scissors
If you are going to transition without the help of a stylist, it’s important that you keep your ends trimmed along the way.
Just make sure you use hair cutting scissors instead of paper cutting scissors. The latter will cause split ends and you’ll get even more breakage.
How often you trim is going to depend on the health of your hair. If you experience breakage, then you may have to trim more often.
You can get hair cutting scissors at Sally’s Beauty Supply or online.
Warning: Yes, they are more expensive than your average pair of scissors. You are getting a better quality product with sharper blades that are not going to split your ends.
Dryness will be your biggest battle as a transitioner and naturalista. Shampooing can strip natural oils, so it’s important you use a non-sulfate shampoo and preferably one that says “moisturizing.”
Of course you can replenish moisture with a rinse-out and deep conditioner, but it doesn’t hurt to use nurturing shampoos as well to put moisture back into your hair as you shampoo.
My favorite: Giovanni
Learn more about moisturizing your hair.
Rinse Out Conditioner
You may not have time to deep condition your hair. If you can’t, at least use a rinse out conditioner to soften your hair up.
I also use rinse out conditioners before I shampoo. Mist your hair with water and add a conditioner, then detangle and section your hair off. It makes it much easier to detangle and then you can shampoo your hair in sections.
My Favorite: Aussie Moist (I buy at CVS or Walgreens).
Here’s a video where I’m raving about the product.
If you have really thick/kinky hair, you need a thick, moisturizing conditioner to penetrate those strands.
Forget the wimpy, milk-like conditioners. Those are fine for rinse-out jobs, but if you want to soften your hair, make sure you have a nice, deep conditioner.
My favorite: Organics Olive Oil Replenisher
Daily Moisturizer / Leave In Conditioner
You may find that you don’t have to moisturize your hair daily, but you should do so at least 3 times per week (maybe more if your hair is dry.)
A moisturizer is a product that has water listed as one of the first two ingredients.
Butters are sealants and should be used on top of the moisturizer.
My favorites: Shea Moisture and Qhemet Biologics Amla and Olive Heavy Cream
As I just mentioned, sealants like natural oils (olive, castor, sweet almond, sunflower, etc.) and butters will lock moisture in. So after you apply a moisturizer, top it off with your favorite sealant to help keep your hair moisturized. This is especially important in the winter.
My favorite: Jane Carter Nourish and Shine
If you do any kind of style like a rod or straw set you will need a setting product to help hold the style. Apply this while your hair is wet for the best hold.
I recommend Bronner Brothers Foam Wrap Lotion. It has a nice hold but contains no drying ingredients like alcohol. You can buy it at most beauty supply stores.
Wide Tooth Comb
This is a detangler’s Godsend. The further apart the teeth are on the comb, the gentler it will be on your hair. As your hair starts to grow out, you will need to detangle in sections and that’s when a wide tooth comb really comes in handy.
In the early days, you may find your original comb works fine, but have that wide-tooth waiting in the wings for when your hair starts to grow out at the roots.
I’m not a big fan of using a lot of gel, but it can be good for slicking down your edges as your hair grows out.
Buy IC Fantasia because it doesn’t have alcohol and won’t flake up like so many of the other brands. Eco Styler is another goody but it is not alcohol free.
Plastic caps are great for deep conditioning your hair while you’re under the dryer, but they also serve another conditioning purpose.
Look, we don’t always have time to sit under the dryer for 30 minutes, right? So you can also deep condition your hair while you’re doing things around the your house.
Simply add a deep conditioner to your hair. Then take a warm wash cloth and place it under the plastic cap. Now you can condition your hair and not be confined to sitting under the dryer.
Rod sets will be one of your staple styles once you learn how to master them. They last forever and they are a great, no-heat style for transitioners.
You can buy perm rods from almost any beauty supply store and they come in a variety of different sizes.
I prefer the smaller ones because they create tighter curls that last longer. Plus, they’re easier to sleep in. Larger ones will give you looser curls, but will frizz faster.
Beanies, Hats, Wigs etc.
Don’t be ashamed. As you are learning how to style your hair, you may have some experimental styles that may not turn out the way you’d hope. Trust me. It happens to all of us.
Keep a few hats, wigs and beanies handy in case you need an emergency cover-up.
Below is a wig I picked up at a local beauty supply store. It was much longer, but I trimmed it so it would be similar to my hair’s length. I liked that it looked more like a natural hair twist out. (Sorry, I don’t remember the name of the wig.)
I didn’t want something too straight because I wanted to get used to seeing myself in more textured styles.
Not to mention, hats and wigs are a fun way to change up your look from time to time.
Silk/Satin Scarves and Bonnets
Remember you want to lock in as much moisture as possible as you transition. Cotton scarfs, wraps and can dry your hair out immensely because they soak up oils, and cotton pillow cases can cause breakage as you rub up against them at night.
Tie your hair up at night with something made of silk/satin or sleep on a satin pillow case.
As your hair grows and you begin to do different styles, you’ll need duck clips to tuck hair out of the way while you work on one section at a time.
You can buy them at any beauty supply store.
Not only do headbands jazz up any style, but as your style gets older, they’re great for covering up unruly edges.
You can buy these almost anywhere: beauty supply stores, Target, Walgreens, CVS, Ulta and online.
I like the ones that fan out like this because they provide more coverage for style and hold down thick hair.
When you style transitioning hair, you want to make sure it stays damp so it’s easier to manage. You can also use them to mix moisturizing concoctions like water, aloe vera gel, a leave-in conditioner, etc.
Experiment with products and have fun!
Pin-up do’s are classy, yet protective styles that is also weather-friendly. You can also use pins to hold down sections of your hair for various styles.
Sally’s sells a brand called MetaGrip Premium Bobby Pins. These are not your average bobby pins that lose their shape, peel, etc. They are sturdy and hold hair very well.
I’ve been using the same ones for several years and all the pins are holding up well. I never have to throw any away. Definitely worth the investment!
my hair is so thick and short and i have tried everything to style it going natural and it always looks horrible.
DeMaris Young says
First, Thank you for you post. This has really motivated me to transition. I am in between natural and old relaxed hair. I was natural then relaxed short, then shaved one side and now transitioning back natural. Natural hair just makes sense since I workout alot.
Should I just chop my relaxed hair off since it’s going to break-off eventually? I want my hair to grow …
April Ervine says
I have been relaxer free since the latter end of 2015. I started out wearing braids and sew-ins. My natural hair is a wavy limp texture and does not hold curls. Lately, my hair has been super brittle in the middle of my head like coarse and very unmanageable while the outside perimeter of my hair is more soft and wavy. Please help! I use shea moisture and I also spritz my hair every morning with the design essentials coconut milk hydrating spray and still no better results. Anything you can recommend I change or add to my routine? I was flat ironing and have completely stopped all types of heat including drying heat. I have just been air drying and wearing two french braids back. (cornrows). Any advice would be helpful!
I’m just just starting and I’m only 2 months in! I’m so confused I really don’t kno what to do. I didn’t do the big chop so now my hair is thining at the ends. And it looks more nappy at the scalp then anytime!! Plz help
Do you deep condition your hair? You should do this weekly. Also consider going to a natural hair stylish to get a good trim. They may also recommend a good maintenance routine. All hair is different and you should consult with someone in person that can assess your unique texture and needs.
Hi , DO you still have the same problem .?.. going through it myself may be i can help u out .
Courtney Snapp says
I’m just starting/ decided to go natural. I haven’t had a relaxer since November 2016. I am trying to learn as much as I possibly can about going natural and the do’s and don’t s to this NEW adventure.
Weel dos Are
1) Dont use any heat stylyng tools ,
2) Moisturize your hair as much as possible
3) Kepp trimming every 3 months
4) Tie your hair -braids, ponytails etc
5) Keep oiling and oiling
1) Dont color, bleach or use any harsh chemicals
2) Dont use small tooth combs
3) USe a good shampoo sulphate free and contioner
PS – keep loving your hair as it is ..!!!
This was super helpful for me I transition in August 2016. At first my hair came out so much not sure if I did something wrong or it comes with transitioning from relaxed to going natural.
Have you ever tried coconut oil on your hair, supposed to be really good
Yes but only use it in the summer because it gets hard in cold weather and can make your hair stiff. LOL
Danielle L says
Hello and thanks for all these helpful tips. I have been relaxer free for over a year. You mentioned something about the different phases of transitioning. I wanted to know when would you consider your hair to be natural. I ask this because I still have relaxed hair towards the end of my hair and I’m not sure if I should be buying curly hair products or some of the ones you mentioned. Thank you.
I started my transition at the end of may I been doing this for 6 months now and when I wash my hair my edges and the middle and the back of my head is curly and getting natural nut it’s just my ends of my hair the is still straight.
For me l have began my journey of the transition from relaxed to natural, and l only have kuza hair good , Castor oil only . Where l am l cannot find the products you mentioned.Apart from that my hair is breaking all tha time . WhT should l do ? Help l don’t want to do the big chop
I don’t want to do the big chop and I want my natural back so bad. So if you can products I could use during transition including natural products
I love the Nutress Transitioning kit! This kit is really the best thing that works for my transitioning hair. One thing that I love about this brand is that they don’t make exaggerated claims and their products speak for themselves. Their formulas are effective but very gentle, which is perfect for Natural hair. You should definitely try it!
This is new to me! Thanks for sharing. 🙂