Everything You Need to Know About Transitioning to Natural Hair

According to an expert.

Best Haircare Products for Transitioners
Photo: Getty Images/InStyle

Making the decision to transition to natural hair is all fun and games until that new growth starts coming in.

Dealing with two different textures on one head of hair is a lot, especially if your curly hair is more on the kinkier side. Besides that, your natural texture will require a different regimen than your relaxed or heat damaged hair, and figuring out how to blend the two while styling is a whole other can of worms. So finding the right products is key.

Here, we spoke with Brendnetta Ashley, hairstylist and artistic educator at The Salon by InStyle Inside JCPenney to get her product recommendations and share her expert tips for transitioning to natural hair.

What Haircare Tips Should Someone Transitioning to Natural Keep in Mind?

First off, you'll need to allocate enough time to wash days, because during this process, patience is truly the name of the game. Ensuring that your hair is well moisturized is also key.

"When transitioning, your hair is very fragile," says Ashley. "Where the natural hair and the previously straightened hair meet is where it is the most fragile. To maintain the health of your hair, deep condition often. I would suggest weekly. Also, make sure you keep your hair hydrated. A light serum applied to the ends up to the scalp is best."

Can I Still Use the Same Products That Worked for My Relaxed Hair?

That depends. If your previous routine focused on keeping the hair hydrated and moisturized, then it's fair to give them a shot. Otherwise, you may need to do an overhaul.

"Using the right products during this time is so important because you are working with two different textures," Ashley explains. "One is previously straightened and the other is natural — both require moisture. But you really want to focus on products that will replenish and restore moisture."

Even though you're growing out your straight ends, you still want to ensure you're using the right products on both textures to avoid damage.

"If you are using the wrong products you will notice your hair becoming dry and eventually breaking, especially in the area of where the two textures meet," says the stylist. "So avoid alcohol-based products."

VIDEO: 4 Natural Hair Growth Tips From Childhood That You Should Be Using Now

What Specific Products Should I Be Using on Wash Day and During the Week?

Ashley recommends using sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners, leave-ins, and oils. She also says it's important to use a detangling brush, not only to gently get rid of knots, but also to make sure the product is evenly distributed to each strand.

The Best Products to Use While Transitioning to Natural Hair

Rucker Roots Smoothing Sulfate-Free Shampoo

best products for transitioning to natural hair

"Using sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner will offer a lot of moisture," explains Ashley. She recommends using the Rucker Roots duo together.

To shop: $14; jcpenney.com

Rucker Roots Detangling Conditioner

best products for transitioning to natural hair

To shop: $49; jcpenney.com

Mizani 25 Miracle Milk Leave-in Conditioner

best products for transitioning to natural hair

"A leave-in conditioner is always a must," Ashley exclaims. "This will lock in moisture before you begin styling, and Mizani's 25 Miracle Milk is a great option. After you shampoo and condition, spray evenly into your hair. The best way to spray is from the ends of your hair up towards the scalp. Then use a detangling brush to ensure it is evenly distributed into your hair."

To shop: $17; jcpenney.com

Kreyol Essence Haitian Black Castor Oil

best products for transitioning to natural hair

According to Ashley, this oil is a great option to refresh hair in-between wash days. Just make sure to start off with a spritz of water. "Apply directly to the scalp and hair two to three times a week," she recommends. "This will seal in the moisture. The key is when applying a small amount goes a long way."

To shop: $18; jcpenney.com

How Long Will The Growing Out Process Take?

According to The American Academy of Dermatology, you get around half-an-inch of new growth every month, which means around six inches per year. But don't let your hair's slow natural cycle discourage you.

"Be patient with the process, you are on a journey," Ashley shares. "To see your healthy hair be back to natural in the end is so rewarding. Stay the course, you won't regret it."

When's the Right Time to Big Chop?

There's actually no right or wrong answer here, because, truly, it all depends on when you feel comfortable snipping off your ends.

"It is not necessary when transitioning," says Ashley. "A big chop is best when you have fully thought about it and have fully prepared for it.

You can also opt to cut your ends off little by little if that makes you more comfortable.

"Trimming your hair regularly — every six to eight weeks — will keep your hair in good condition," the stylist explains. "It will also help to prevent breakage."

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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