How to Transition to Natural During Quarantine, According To an Expert Stylist

No better time than the present.

Afro Quarantine Transition
Photo: Getty Images

Conquering the transition from chemically processed hair to natural curls is no small feat, especially in the midst of a global pandemic.

With many hair salons still closed and stay at home orders in place in several states, transitioners in particular have been left to take on the often complex and grueling journey of going natural on their own, without the help of their trusted hairstylist.

Celebrity hairstylist Nai'vasha wants these women to know that they are not in this alone. But the expert, who has worked her magic on Tracee Ellis Ross, Alicia Keys, and Logan Browning, wants to make something clear for those who may not be well versed in managing and styling natural hair — and you'll definitely want to keep it in mind as you're getting started.

"Natural hair isn't always easy hair," says Nai'vasha. "That is something that I really want people to grasp and understand as a community."

From go-to products to protective styles, Nai'vasha spoke with InStyle about the best way to make the natural hair transition on your own.

All of her honest tips, in Q&A style, ahead.

What is the first thing transitioners should consider before taking the plunge?

People really need to [ask themselves], "Is this something I can keep up, is this something that I can maintain?" Because the idea of flip-flopping back and forth between relaxer and natural hair is really stressful for the hair. It can actually do your hair more damage when you don't pick a side. When you chemically treat your hair you have to continue that, otherwise it's going to cause the hair to break.

Also, just because your hair is natural or you are interested in having natural hair, does not mean that your hair is healthy. To be quite honest with you, it takes a little bit more work. Although it's fun and you can do a bunch of cool things with it, [natural hair] is a lot of work, it's a lot of study that goes into it, and there's a lot of trial and error.

Can we do the big chop at home?

I always recommend not cutting your hair at home but when you are in quarantine sometimes you have to DIY it, you may have to YouTube it, you may have to take your chance at it. That I get, I totally understand.

As professionals do we want our clients doing that? Absolutely not. But it's not the end of the world if they do.

The big chop can be cool and it can be really liberating. I would recommend cutting shears for the big chop. You can actually get them for home use at your local pharmacies like a CVS, Walgreens, or Target. They tend to be a little sharper and the blades are geared more towards hair versus the scissors that you would cut paper with or cut a box open with.

What simple hairstyles are good for the transition period?

You can do the puffy pony. The puffy pony is when natural girls smooth their hair up into a ponytail and just let it rock. I'm a believer in a ponytail. I also recommend a twist out with the rollers on the end.

What are some things you would warn against when creating our DIY routine?

Let me talk about protein. If you use too much protein in your hair it will break it, too much protein is not good. It's almost like taking too much iron. Iron is good for your body but if you take too much of it, it can damage your body, it can damage your organs. It's the same thing with the hair. Protein is actually great to strengthen your hair but if you add too much of it, it will break strand by strand.

VIDEO: Tracee Ellis Ross' Latest Hairstyle Will Give Every Black Girl Serious Nostalgia

What good transition products can we easily get our hands on right now?

I tend to love Emerge. Emerge is a good look because it's price-conscious and it has all of the basic ingredients that you need for your hair to be strong and healthy, especially to make it through what we are going through right now. And it comes in hefty sizes, so you don't have to buy so often. It's at Target. I also think that Cantu is a good one that's also in Target. They both smell really good.

What's a good transitioning hair quarantine routine?

Every week shampoo it and condition it, you can even do a treatment mask on it. I say let it air dry, do not try to use your diffuser or any of those things that you would typically do day to day. Let the hair air dry so that it can try to hold its natural curl pattern and do it's thing.

You can keep your bonnet on until the next wash day. In the meantime, you can also go in and moisturize the scalp with some Black Jamaican castor oil or your favorite leave in conditioner. I recommend that if you're going to be home, go ahead and take advantage of this time and use some of your heavier oils and some of your heavier conditioners. So when you come out you look like a quarantine bae.

What's the first thing we should do when it is safe to go outside?

I don't recommend rushing to the hair salon. I would not try to go platinum right away, I wouldn't try to do all of these excessive things to bring the shock back to your hair because it's been untouched for 90 days or more.

This is All Natural. From the kinkiest coils to loose waves, we're celebrating natural hair in its many forms by sharing expert tips for styling, maintenance, and haircare.

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