Transitioning To Natural Hair From Relaxed Hair

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Many women who are looking to wear their hair natural from relaxed hair, prefer to transition to natural hair without cutting their hair short and growing out their ‘fro from a TWA (teenie weenie afro). The big chop – the act of cutting all your relaxed hair off to start growing your natural hair anew – is a big change for some women, bordering on traumatic.

Good news is that you can grow your afro to your preferred length before cutting off the relaxed hair. Bad news is that you will have to cut off your relaxed hair at some point. And no, relaxed hair cannot revert to natural hair no matter how many times you wash it.

An advantage of transitioning to natural hair from relaxed hair is that you learn to care and actually care for your natural growth from day one. Most of us tend to neglect our TWA, leaving it dry most times, yet at some point as our hair grows, the TWA will be the oldest part of our hair and will be prone to split ends, dryness and breakage from earlier neglect.

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  • 1. The first challenge and most common complaint by those growing their natural hair whilst they keep their relaxed hair is that they don’t know how to manage the coarse growth. The answer is to moisturise, moisturise, moisturise!

    Moisturising and softening the natural growth starts with doing weekly moisturising deep conditioning treatments. After a few weeks your natural growth will be easy to manage and a much softer texture. Moisturise and lock in moisture often, start treating your hair as if it is natural hair even if it is still majority relaxed hair.

  • 2. Avoid the temptation to straighten the growth by blow-drying or flat ironing the curly growth to blend with the straight relaxed hair. Use of heat styling tools is likely to cause heat damage to the hair, which is irreversible and likely to cause your hair to break in the long run. If you must straighten your growth, please protect your hair and moisturise the growth before applying heat.
  • 3. Rather than straighten the curly growth with heat, maybe consider adopting curly hairstyles so that your straight relaxed hair almost matches the curly natural growth. These curls can be achieved by doing bantu knots or twists or braids.
  • 4. Trim your relaxed hair every 6 weeks to start moving towards your natural hair and to avoid cutting all the relaxed hair all at once at some point.
  • 5. Hot oil treatments will assist to strengthen both your relaxed hair and new natural growth. Oils like avocado oil have a small amount of protein that assist in strengthening hair.
  • 6. On washdays you need to ensure your hair does not tangle, washing relaxed hair with a lot of natural growth is prone to tangling. A pre-poo treatment will assist prevent the hair from tangling and also cutting off split ends prevents tangling.
  • 7. Experiment with different products to find the right combination of products that work for your natural hair type.
  • 8. Allow for a mindset shift, whereas dealing with your relaxed hair was quite quick and seemingly effortless, natural hair requires investment of time at first as you learn your hair and figure out which products work for you. Once you have figured that out, your daily and weekly regimen will be quicker.
  • 9. Do put your hair in protective styles such as braids or even weaves. This lessens the need to manipulate it daily and putting stress on your new growth.
  • 10. The place where your natural hair ends and your relaxed hair begins is called the line of demarcation. This point is the weakest part of your hair whilst you are transitioning. Make sure to keep that part moisturised and avoid pulling hair too tight so that part is stressed, it will cause breakage.

Some people transition for 6 months, others for 2 years, you will know when it is the right time to cut off all of your relaxed hair. It is important to invest in time in learning how to care for natural hair, it will make being natural easy.

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