11 Tips to Transition from Relaxed to Natural Hair With Ease


The popularity of the natural hair movement has been around for nearly ten years. And while there are plenty of YouTube video tutorials, many women still struggle to figure out how to transition from relaxed to natural hair without completely losing their minds or hair. 

The availability of natural hair products is no longer an issue. Those are available at arm’s length in national chain stores and online. You can even take advantage of a full set of products like our past November 2020 COCOTIQUE box that contained the Design Essentials Almond and Avocado Collection for only $25.

Women are looking for practical tips on natural hair care maintenance, whether or not to big chop, and which natural hairstyles and products will work best with their hair type. 

Here are the significant areas to focus on when transitioning to natural hair.  

First, let’s start with some frequently asked natural hair questions about transitioning. 

Transitioning from Relaxed to Natural Hair: FAQs

care free black women with natural hair
Photo by Thought Catalog

How can I go from relaxed hair to natural without cutting it?

You can gradually grow out your relaxer without cutting your hair or doing what is known as the big chop. The process of transitioning will take longer, but it is doable. Many women choose protective hairstyles to avoid cutting their hair and gradually trim their ends in between. 

Can you get your natural hair texture back after a relaxer?

Yes, as long as you do not continue to process your hair with any chemical treatments. According to Medical News Today, hair grows at the equivalent of 0.2 to 0.7 inches per month. As a result, your natural hair texture will eventually come back after a relaxer. This hair is sometimes called “new growth.” 

How can I speed up transitioning to natural hair?

If you want to speed up transitioning to natural hair, the best advice we suggest is to make sure you treat your body and hair from the inside out. Healthy hair care is more than what products you use. Maintaining a nutritious diet, drinking lots of water, and taking vitamins also help. Some women choose to use hair growth supplements with biotin to help speed up their hair growth process.

How can I permanently remove a relaxer from my hair?

The only way to permanently remove the relaxer from your hair is to cut the relaxed hair. Getting a relaxer is a permanent straightening process and is not reversible. 

How often should you wash transitioning hair?

You should wash transitioning hair just as much as relaxed hair because healthy hair starts with a healthy scalp. However, this is also subject to your activity level, if you sweat often and what type of environmental elements you are around. Each person is different. 

A great rule of thumb is once a week, but some women can get by every two weeks. Some naturals even choose to co-wash exclusively for weeks, followed by a clarifying shampoo once a month. 

Because co-washing only can cause build-up on your hair and scalp, a clarifying shampoo helps to detox and thoroughly cleanse your hair for maximum moisture.

11 Top Tips for Transitioning to Natural Hair

1. Understand it is called a natural hair journey for a reason

To big chop or not to big chop? That is the question. The big chop is when you decide to cut all of the relaxed hair off vs. growing it out over time. Many women feel liberated after doing the big chop, while some feel insecure about having shorter hair. Decide what is best for you.

You will probably have a range of emotions while trying new hairstyles and looks during your natural hair journey. Embrace the process and try not to be so hard on yourself. There is no “one way” or “right way” to go natural and leave your relaxer and perm days behind.

2. Follow bloggers and influencers with your similar hair texture

Thank goodness for natural hair bloggers! We love that they share so much about their natural hair experiences, so others know what to expect.

But, you should have realistic expectations of what your hair type and texture will look like as it continues to grow. You will be doing yourself a great injustice by following a blogger who has a hair texture utterly different from your own. 

Natural hair is beautiful and comes in so many different shapes and textures, which all perform differently. Figure out what styles and natural hair products work for your hair type and texture. Maybe your hair likes gels, while another person’s hair prefers creams. You will never know without trial and error. 

Hair Textures vs. Hair Types

The hair type chart has popularly promoted hair types. We have all seen the 3a, 3b ranging from 4a-4c photos. Several people continue to box themselves into this category as it is the easiest way to identify your curls and relate to others. 

Hair Type Chart

Photo: Courtesy of Shea Moisture

However, natural curls are more than just a letter and a number.  Hair textures can range depending on your hair’s width of fine, medium, or thick. Porosity level and hair density also impact your hair’s texture. 

3. Find a professional natural hair stylist for a proper hair consultation

Suppose you are new to properly caring for your hair. In that case, we recommend finding a professional natural hair stylist in your area for a consultation before transitioning from relaxed to natural hair. 

A stylist will be able to assess your hair and even conduct the big chop for you. This is important if you want to ensure a short hairstyle frames your face well and so you don’t damage your hair by improperly cutting it at home.

A professional natural hair stylist will also be able to see breakage in areas of your hair that you cannot notice and let you know what type of natural hair products will work best for your hair type.  Searching Instagram hashtags and Google is a great place to start. 

4. Develop a natural hair regimen you can maintain

If you can not achieve a wash and go, trust me, it is OK. And if you can not flat-twist, that is OK as well. Going from a perm to natural hair is not about following what everyone else is doing but finding a process that works for you. 

The quickest way to become frustrated with your natural hair journey is by biting off more than you can chew. Maintaining natural hair is a bit more work than wearing a relaxer. You want to moisturize daily, deep condition weekly, and make sure you aren’t subjecting yourself to activities that cause breakage.

The AVEDA Botanical Repair Intensive Strengthening Masque:rich is a great addition to add to your weekly routine. It Intensely repairs and strengthens hair instantly. Plus, 92% of women said their hair instantly looked healthier and less damaged.

Choose one day out of the week to dedicate to your natural hair regimen and stay consistent

Aveda Botanical Repair

5. Try new natural hair products.

You will try a wide variety of natural hair products while going from relaxed to natural hair as your texture changes. Don’t be afraid to move on if an old favorite no longer works for your hair. 

You may find that as your hair grows and it responds to products differently. That’s also why we love our COCOTIQUE monthly beauty box subscription. You get the opportunity to try a full range of products for $25 without breaking the bank. Typically, a full range of products from one brand will cost upwards of $50 or more. 

Our past subscription brands include Shea Moisture, Design Essentials, Lotta Body, and LivSo

6. Experiment with new natural hairstyles while transitioning

Trial and error is the name of the game. While transitioning to natural hair, it is essential to try out different styles to see what you like the best and to gain practice.

Here are a few natural hairstyles we recommend if you are managing two textures while transitioning. Because some women choose not to big chop, these styles are great for still getting the straight ends of your hair to have a consistent curl pattern while styling. 

7. Avoid heat and over manipulation to prevent breakage

Avoid heat at all costs if you can or severely limit your heat usage. Transitioning hair can become weak where the relaxed hair meets the newly grown natural curls. The point is also called the line of demarcation. As a result, handle your transitioning hair delicately.

If you must use heat, always use a heat protectant and ensure you deep condition the hair for proper moisture before heat usage. Be care of your temperature setting on styling tools such as flat irons and curling irons to prevent heat damage.

Once the hair is damaged, you may have to cut those damaged ends off and start your transitioning journey over from the beginning. 

black woman with box braids
         photo:  @tahitian_treat

8. Have fun with protective styles

There are so many unique protective styles for natural hair. Have fun! More than likely, you have just big chopped, so trying out different wigs and weaves is a fun way to experience long hair again if you desire.

Here are some protective style hairstyles for natural hair you can try:

  • Box Braids 
  • Wigs 
  • Clip-ins
  • Drawstring curly ponytails
  • Goddess Locs or Faux Locs 

    Essential things to reminder when protective styling natural hair:

    • Protecting the hair is the #1 goal. Don’t neglect your scalp care. Dry scalp can lead to excessive scratching, dandruff, and breakage. Keep your scalp moisturized and clean.
    • Maintain your healthy hair regimen in between styles. Just because you choose to wear a wig, box braids, or clip-ins, continue to shampoo and deep condition your hair on your normal routine. If wearing box braids, be sure to dry the hair entirely by sitting under a hooded dryer to prevent mildew.
    • Avoid tension styles that may cause alopecia. While we all love a good set of box braids, be sure the braids are not pulling at your edges, causing more breakage. If you start to see small red bumps around the perimeter of your hair, the braids are too tight.

    9. Don’t skip the moisture

    Moisture is one of the most critical factors in maintaining healthy natural hair. Once you fully transition from relaxed to natural hair, you will find that the natural curls become drier significantly faster than your straight relaxed hair.

    Curly hair is prone to more dryness as it takes a more extended amount of time for the natural sebum of your scalp to travel down the hair shaft. As a result, moisture is vital. 

    Moisturizing natural hair is relatively easy. Products as simple as a spritzing water bottle with essentials oils to leave-in conditioners and hair lotions can all provide daily moisture. Deep conditioning regularly and rotating between a protein conditioner and moisturizing conditioner will also help maintain your protein-moisture balance. 

    And last but not least, remember healthy hair starts on the inside as well. Drinking water and having a diet rich in omega-three fatty acids will also contribute to healthy hair. 

    10. Keep your ends trimmed to prevent breakage

    How often should you trim your ends? Several stylists recommend every 3-4 months for consistency. With transitioning, natural hair trims are even more critical. 

    While you are transitioning, you might be styling your hair more often, which is more tension and manipulation to your hair. This excessive styling may also lead to breakage. Ultimately check with your stylist to see how often they recommend trimming your hair. 

    11. Document your journey & bring others along!

    Start a natural hair blog, YouTube Channel, or just document your journey on Instagram. Either way, all of these options will make your journey more enjoyable as you bring others along. Finding a community that is supportive of your natural hair will make a huge difference, especially if the process is challenging for you.

    Besides, you will love to look back on the memories and see how far you have come and ultimately how healthy your hair will be compared to before you transitioned. 

    In conclusion

    There are so many ways you can transition from relaxed to natural hair. Maintaining healthy hair during the process is the most important, no matter which way you chose to do it.  

    Between Google, natural hair blogs, and YouTube, you can find almost any answer to a question you have. Ultimately this is your transitioning journey. Enjoy it and learn as you go! 

    Do you have any additional transitioning tips that we might have missed? If so, drop a comment below and let us know.