Transitioning to Natural Hair: How to Grow Out Your Relaxer

The transitioning process is different for everyone and no two people will experience the same results, explains Emmanuel. “The amount of time [it takes to completely transition] depends on the length of your relaxed hair, how often you trim or cut off the relaxed hair, and if there are any setbacks such as hair breakage or hair loss. It can take as long as a year (or longer) if you do basic trims every three months versus the big chop.”

Wash Less, Condition More

According to Massey, protecting your hair from yourself is key. “Let’s be honest, we only spend a few hours with our beloved hairdresser and the rest of the time your hair is spent with you,” she says. “Give your hair as much conditioning love as you can. Slowly start to detox from the years of force, flatirons, straightening chemicals, glue from weaves and wigs, and years of overlapping oils.”

As tempting as it may be, hairstylist, CEO and cofounder of Miss Jessie’s, Miko Branch advises clients to “avoid washing your hair daily as it will dry your scalp and strands. Cleanse your hair at the root while massaging your scalp once or twice a week. If you are active and/or use a good amount of styling product or conditioner, then cleanse your hair more often. Rinse out the shampoo with warm water,” she suggests.

She also recommends staying clear of shampoos with sulfates and other drying chemicals. “Curls thrive from the natural oils in your hair, so the last thing you want to do is strip them. Choosing quality curl cleansers is paramount to the integrity of your natural hair and keeps your hair free from dirt and product buildup. You want a cleanser that has pure ingredients meant to improve the look, strength, and texture of hair.”

Massey agrees. [“Look for 100 percent sulfate-free, water-soluble, silicone-free cleansers and conditioners,” she says.

Finally, after washing your hair, Branch encourages clients to avoid regular towel use. “[Traditional towels] can create tangles, friction, and frizz. Use either an old cotton T-shirt or a microfiber towel, and dab wet hair to soak up excess water,” explains Branch.

Always Detangle Delicately

As you navigate your new texture, tangles may pop up more frequently than before — especially at the demarcation line (where the relaxed and natural hair meet). Stephen says she reminds clients that “the smaller the section, the safer the detangling process.” Go slowly when you’re detangling your hair and make sure you have the right tools on deck. “You need detangling spray, a paddle brush, sectioning clips, a wide-tooth comb, time, and patience,” Stephen explains.

Emmanuel recommends arming yourself with a conditioner that has plenty of slip. “Start at the ends of your hair, and comb working your [way] up. I recommend the Joico Moisture Recovery Treatment Balm or the Joico Moisture Recovery Conditioner, which is not as heavy as the balm. These two conditioners will add slip and help detangle your hair,” she explains. The Best of Beauty-winning Carol’s Daughter Coco Crème and Philip Kingsley’s Moisture Extreme Conditioners are also great slippery and moisture-rich options.

Lean Into Protective Styling

Branch optimistically shares there are many ways to hide the two dueling hair textures. “Protective hairstyles are key — just make sure to switch these out every two weeks. There are plenty of helpful video tutorials online,” she explains. “Some of the protective styles that I recommend that are easy to create at home include extension braids, add-on hair, goddess braids, cornrows, flat twists, and topknots. You can grow out your hair, protect it, give it a much-needed break, and look fabulous all in one shot.”

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