transitioning to natural hair

 Ways to Transition to Natural Hair

Transitioning does not need to be a great challenge, however it does require educating yourself on your hair type and a great deal of patience.

The preferred method by a good deal of women is to do what is known in the natural world as the BC or aka THE BIG CHOP. By far, this is the fastest and most simple way to remove a relaxer from your hair completely. Nevertheless, some women find it to challenging to limit themselves with only a few styling options afterwards. Based on where you start in the transition, this can mean shaving your hair completely off or just trimming it down and rocking a fro or as it’s known in the natural hair community TWA aka Teeny Weeny Afro. This would be a wonderful opportunity for you to start with fresh healthy hair and learn about your hair as it grows.

Would you like to go natural without having to chop off all your hair?

If your answer is yes, you can slowly trim off the chemically processed hair and continue to style your hair as usual. Another option is to wear extension or wigs until your hair is the length you desire before trimming off the processed hair.

If you are serious about transitioning to natural hair you should setup a plan to do so. Hair grows on an average of 1/2 an inch each month. Make up your mind how long you would like your hair to be before cutting off the relaxer. For example, if you want at minimum of 3 inches of natural hair, plan on the final transition being around 6 months at least.

medium 4a hair on black girl

Here are Some Additional Guidelines:

Experiment with Styles

Find a style that makes you feel beautiful and comfortable when you are transitioning. This will help you stick to the plan. A lot of women fall back into the routine of applying relaxers to their hair because they are not confident in the new look. Play around with extensions, wigs, twist-out, bantu knot-outs, and braids. The important thing is you find a style that suits you!

Avoid ANY Type of Chemical

If you have a relaxer in your hair, the last thing you should want to do is add another chemical to your already fragile hair. Do no use dyes on your hair or any type of harsh chemicals while growing out your natural black hair.

Avoid Breakage by Being Gentle

The hair is extremely fragile when it is growing out from a relaxer. This is because of the difference in textures. The strong new growth presses on the weaker hair and causes it to break. Unfortunately it is hard for your hair to prevent from breakage at the line of demarcation. The best way to try to prevent some breakage is to be gentle when trying to style or comb your hair.

Use Lots of Conditioner When Detangling your Hair

You should always detangle your hair while it is wet and with LOTS and LOTS of conditioner. You want to make certain you use a wide toothcomb so that you prevent from snagging your hair or damaging your ends. Start at the ends and work your way upwards to the roots. Doing the opposite, may result in further knots.

black women washing natural curly hair

Keep Your Scalp and Hair Clean

Keeping your scalp clean will allow healthy hair growth and prevent your pores from being clogged. Keeping your hair clean will allow your hair cuticle to absorb any needed moisture; If you have to much product and dirt on your hair this may block needed moisture from entering the shaft. You should clean your scalp and hair at least every 7 – 14 days when trying to grow your natural healthy hair.

Moisturizing your Hair Should be a Daily Routine

Use a daily leave on conditioner at night or find a daily moisturizer such as Shea butter to use on your ends and scalp to prevent your ends from being too dry and breaking. Natural black hair tends to be more dry than all other hair types, therefore it is essential we moisturize daily.

Use a Deep Conditioner Frequently

African American hair is naturally dry so it is important to frequently do a deep conditioner. Try to use a deep conditioner at least every two weeks or once a month. Henna Treatments are great deep conditioners.

Avoid using Heat on your Hair

You may desire to get the roots of the natural hair as straight as the relaxed hair, however this is going to cause more damage and breakage than good. To avoid further damage to your hair re-frame from using styling tools that require heat. This includes, blow dryers, flat irons, curling irons, etc. There are a large number of styles that do not require the use of these items. For instance, bantu knot-outs, twist-outs, and braids.

Do not put heat on Natural Black Hair

Gradually Trim your Relaxed or Broken Ends

You should obtain a good trim every 6-8 weeks. Now some hair may differ, so you should base this on your hair needs. If you do not have any split ends, there isn’t a need for a trim. If you trim you own hair, make sure to use hair shears opposed to general scissors!

Hopefully these guidelines will help you on your journey to healthy natural hair! Best of luck and for more help and support from other transitioners visit our black hair forum.


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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

rachel ross January 26, 2012 at 5:33 am

omg this was so helpful this gave me the confidence i needed to start my transitioning i am about 2 or 3 months in and next month i will get kinky twist and this info off this website really helps me i hope i can stay with this and enjoy my healthy hair as i was born with thank you sooo much i love this site and very insightful you inspired me just by reading the aritcles i thought looking at youtubers journeys was inspiring well this is better love ittt wish me luck


Naturalbella January 31, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Best of luck! I’m sure you’ll love the transition. Transitioning to natural has boost my confidence! Glad you enjoy the site :)


Gitma April 11, 2012 at 11:29 pm

I don’t believe it’s ipmossible that some of us are just genetically unfortunate helpless and hopeless when it comes to our hair. Seriously, I have very thick but baby-fine naturally curly hair and it’s an unruly frizzy mess no matter what I do. Can trim the dead ends when necessary, sure; but beyond that I can only carefully run a comb through it and cross my fingers that it still looks neat-ish by the time I’m out the front door. I don’t dye it. I don’t blow dry it or otherwise style with heat. I have a shower filter to deal with chlorine. There’s even a bottle of Kerastase on the rim of the tub. I’ve tried vitamins. I’ve tried conditioning. I’ve tried conditioning ONLY. I’ve tried not conditioning. I’ve tried no-poo’ing. I’ve tried oils. I’ve tried vinegars. (We’re still talking about hair, right? Not salad?) Nothing works for long. Heck, I can’t even wrangle a straight part line most days. And though it looks dull and fried and yucky, it’s not; many have commented with slight surprise that I have the softest hair they’ve ever touched. Unfamiliar with this chick or her personal hair drama, but I’ll throw some sympathy out to all Our Catladies of Perpetual Hair Sorrow.


Estevan February 8, 2012 at 3:50 am

I just did this out of cistoruiy. (I found your site link in a “no ‘poo” LJ community post) My hair isn’t even dry yet but I have a question: How do you get dressed afterwards if you can’t touch your hair?? Or do I just re-scrunch it after pulling on my t-shirt/sweatshirt? Also, if it turns out that I DO have curly hair and I want to keep it that way I have another question: I can’t stand my hair in my face. It’s fairly long, about mid-back length, so I wear it in a ponytail nearly 100% of the time. Even to sleep, (on top of my head) otherwise it winds around my face and throat. If I keep it ponytailed but want to wear it down for some occasion, can I just do this method once in awhile and still get curls? Or do I need to keep doing ‘curly hair care’ constantly to achieve results? I haven’t even looked into that yet, but I did look at some of the photos on that link you posted about results and kind of like it. I work outside, walking dogs, so my hair is often under a hat in winter. Thanks so much!


Naturalbella February 8, 2012 at 1:08 pm

I would just re-scrunch my hair after putting on clothes :) If you are not straightening your hair on a regular basis you shouldn’t have a problem with retaining your curls. If you straighten your hair too often, you’ll create more porous hair which can make it difficult for moisture to reach the cuticle, which may result in loss of curls.


Munha April 10, 2012 at 11:59 am

Sad to say, I don’t think your kids will look to you as their hair role model. I know, I know, we want our kids to aspire to us in every way but honey, it ain’t so. My mom for one had jerry curls long after the damp couch hedarests were considered socially acceptable. Trust me, i wanted no part of that, not when my friends had gorgeous perms, braids and weaves.I think your biggest gift to your kids is precisely what your mom gave you — curious mind and an open heart.


Jelese Dixon February 11, 2012 at 4:04 am

What do you think about using keratin mists or getting a keratin treatment?


Ruky March 15, 2012 at 3:56 pm

hi, this is very helpful, im Nigerian and inspired to start keeping natural curly hair. Firstly i DONT want to cut my hair at all, i havent relaxed it in over 3months and dont intend to anyways, do you think i still need to trim off an inch or two to grow out natural cury hair? The last time i relaxed my hair in December 2011, the stylist did take an inch off. I am new at this, trying to get started by purchasing products at the end of this month and would love all the help i can get. Cheers


Naturalbella March 20, 2012 at 11:48 pm

Hello Ruky,

If you are transitioning and you are not interested in the Big Chop, it would be a good idea to slowly trim the relaxed hair. This means as much as you feel is necessary each time you visit your stylist; 1-2 inches sounds like a good starting point :)



Mechelle* April 2, 2012 at 5:24 am


I’m trying to figure out this whole transitioning process..I do not have a relaxer and never have had one. But, I have been pressing my hair for ummm about 8 years now and it will not grow past shoulder length. I am really tired of straight hair and would like to try something new. When I wash my hair it does revert back to its original curly state. However, I am confused about what to do with my hair when it is naturally curly. Any tips of hair styles that will help me keep the heat out of my hair? please help!!! thanks!


Naturalbella April 3, 2012 at 11:43 pm

Hi Mechelle! My favorite go to styles as a natural are twist-out and bantu knot-out. If you go to youtube and type in either, you should be able to find a great number of styles :)


Pat April 14, 2012 at 5:19 am

My black natural hair is breaking or just falling off, it’s really depressing me, what should I do.


cynthia April 16, 2012 at 4:45 am

I am still transiting from relaxer to natural, but I have course hair, and it get so dry what do you recommend for this type of hair?


Melissa May 25, 2012 at 4:51 pm

I have gone 2 and a half months without a relaxer and have been just wearing weaves and wigs and have noticed my hair has grown out but I don’t want to go through the big chop. I am trying the two strand twist and bantu knots for styles now, and wanted some information on good night time care for my hair so I can wake up, tease it out and go. It seems to be a lot harder to maintain the knot or twist look if i don’t do it every night since I still have the relaxed hair at the ends. Is there anything you recommend for a night time routine, i.e. moisturizing or rodding my hair versus bantu knots or twisting it every night?


SADE June 6, 2012 at 6:13 am

Hi,I am thinking about preparing for a big chop.I wanted to know why is my hair so fine?I have not had a perm in over 3yrs and not had a flat iron in 8 months.I want the big curl afro not the afro that’s straight n a little puff.I have been wearing kinky twist and micros braid for the last 8 months.I have been experiencing a lot of shedding and not much growth.Do you recommend i do the big chop or just transition my hair to natural state?


Brittany D. September 12, 2012 at 6:25 am

I recently did the big chop on Aug 21st, 2012……I immediately dyed my hair soon after..will that damage my hair, will I have to cut my hair even shorter?


Naturalbella September 12, 2012 at 11:50 am

Hair coloring involves the use of chemicals capable of removing, replacing and/or covering up pigments naturally found inside the hair shaft. Use of these chemicals can result in a range of adverse effects if not applied properly. If you went from dark hair to really light, there’s a greater chance of more damage because the chemicals used are stronger. However, the darker you go the less damage the dye may cause. Also, it depends on if you done a temporary dye, semi-permanent, demi-permanent, or permanent. Temporary dyes shouldn’t cause any harm. I would not cut my hair unless I started to notice a substantial amount of damage. If you had a professional dye your hair and you take care of your hair properly, you probably will only experience minimal damage. When it comes to chemical, I always recommend consulting with a professional :) Also, make sure you find a good conditioner and keep your hair moisturized! Here’s an article I wrote regarding the most damaging habits to your hair 10 Sinful Habit That Damage Natural Hair


Stefanie Mercedes April 25, 2013 at 11:13 am

I’m so excited about transitioning. I’ve cut my hair short before, but I’ve always had a relaxer. So, I’m a little intimidated about cutting it all off right now… not because of what I think people might say but just because I don’t know how I would style it just yet. I plan to BC at 6 months. So ya’ll pray for this “HEAD” lol. I guess my question is will my hair thicken without the big chop or will it feel thin? I’m only in my first month, and I have so many questions.. thanks for the site!! All of you women are so beautiful and inspiring. I can’t wait until i’m all “FRO’d” out!


Naturalbella May 10, 2013 at 11:24 am

Hi Stefanie,

More than likely your hair will become thinner while growing out your relaxer. When your natural hair starts to grow in, your hair starts breaking off at the line of demarcation. This is because your natural hair texture can be stronger than relaxed hair, therefore it pushes the weaker, relaxed hair out. In addition, if you start using more heat to get the different textures to blend, you may cause additional breakage which will make your hair thinner.


Chitaria April 27, 2013 at 7:33 am

I am 13 and currently trying to transition after getting my hair permed for 2 years. I told my mom about the bc but she said i’m not cutting off all my hair, but we can trim it. i notice my roots are really curly but the bottom is straight…how much do i have to trim off without losing ALL my hair?


Naturalbella May 10, 2013 at 11:07 am

I’m not sure of the length of your hair now. However, it is truly up to you and how comfortable you feel with the amount to cut off. Remember, your hair will grow back ;)


kim May 11, 2013 at 5:51 pm

I’ve not put any chemical in my hair for one year now. I’ve been braiding and using conrow for a while. I think I am ready to do the BC now. Thanks for sharing helpful tips on transitioning. Does the hair suffer from a BC or is it just an emotional thing that most likely will happen?


Naturalbella May 26, 2013 at 7:45 am

Hi Kim,

I do not see how hair would suffer from the BC. I believe it is just an emotional transition. Remember change is always challenging. Without change we don’t grow ;) I’m sure you’ve heard the saying before….


Elaina May 15, 2013 at 9:03 pm

I went about 2 mo no relaxer. However the relaxed hair got on my last nerve, I gave in, and did the BIG CHOP, i refused to put a relaxer in my head so i decided to stick it out..I hesitated about a week lol, wondering how i would look or what ppl would think about my “Teeny Weeny fro”, so one night i washed my hair, stood in my mirror, took my scissors and went to chopping. I stood there bout an additional hour asking myself, “what have you done lady?”…but a part of me was deeply in love with the texture of the hair left on my head, and i repeatedly said to myself it will grow back…but my comment is to encourage the curious pretaining to the “BIG CHOP”, NOTE: IT IS VERY DARING but the results i have now, which is 2 1/2 months after i made my decision im empressed with my beautiful, healthy, thick hair..


Naturalbella May 26, 2013 at 7:42 am

Thanks for sharing your encouraging story!!!


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