10 Step Natural Hair Long-Term Transitioning Guide
Since I was able to successfully complete my long-term (18-month) transition without a big chop, I thought I’d create a page with some tips for those who aspire to do the same…
1. Start With a Good Trim
This means you need to get rid of all those dead, thin and split ends. The longer you transition, the more brittle they will become so you might as well let them go now because they will break anyway.
I got rid of a good 3-4 inches when I began my transition because my hair was very damaged when I started.
2. Give Up All Direct Heat (Flat Irons, Blow Dryers, etc.)
I know this is hard for a lot of you to read, but I think having a “no heat policy” was the reason my hair stayed so healthy throughout my 18-month transition.
Of course I had some breakage — that is to be expected, but flat ironing and blow drying would have made the problem worse.
The only heat I used was indirect heat from the hooded dryer and that was only for 20 minutes. Most of the time I let my hair air dry.
Almost all relaxed hair has some degree of heat damage, even if it’s subtle. So why continue to damage your ends if you know that you are going to keep them for as long as possible while you transition?
Not to mention, you run the risk of damaging your natural hair, and this is the hair you plan to keep. You certainly don’t want to fry it.
Wear your hair in rod sets, twists, buns, extensions, bantu knots and other styles that don’t require heat.
3. Trim Your Hair Regularly
I trimmed my hair at least once a month, sometimes twice. My ends kept splitting because my hair was really fried and brittle from relaxers and flat irons.
Sometimes I would just dust my ends — which means you take off less than a quarter of an inch. The healthier your ends are, the easier it will be to complete your long-term transition.
Remember, you’re going to have some breakage — it’s inevitable. But trimming keeps it from getting out of control.
Tip: Always use hair-cutting scissors. Paper-cutting or dull scissors can cause split ends.
4. Pre Poo Before Shampooing
As you get further into the transition, your ends will get weaker and become more prone to breakage. You’ll probably notice more and more breakage when you shampoo your hair.
Remember, the demarcation line (where your natural and relaxed hair meet) is extremely fragile so you want to always strengthen your hair as much as possible.
Pre-pooing is the process of moisturizing your hair before you shampoo. This strengthens your hair and helps prevent breakage.
I usually pre-poo with a cheap rinse-out conditioner and olive oil. The conditioner not only helps strengthen your hair, but it works through any tangles before you shampoo.
I shampoo my hair in sections so I apply the pre-poo to each section and let it sit for at least an hour. Before I get in the shower, I gently detangle each section with my fingers and remove any shed hairs.
5. Shampoo in Sections
This process is more time consuming but it saved me a lot of breakage. As you get into your 3rd or 4th month of the transition, your new growth will begin to make detangling more difficult.
Keeping your hair in sections as you pre-poo, shampoo and condition will save you a lot of breakage and shedding.
Note: Always use NO SULFATE shampoos so your hair won’t dry out. Giovanni products and Kinky Curly’s Come Clean (buy at Whole Foods or Amazon) were my faves.