Transition or Transitioning to Natural Hair

Woman thinking of transitioning to natural hair
Ghislain & Marie David de Lossy/Royalty-free Getty Images

Transition Definition:

To transition is to return to a natural hair texture from a chemically straightened or heat-trained one. Over a period of weeks or months, the ends of the hair will be cut away as the new growth appears. While the transitioning process will require the wearer to find various styles that work with both textures (the chemically processed and the natural), it's generally considered a less dramatic option in returning to natural hair than the "big chop."

Also Known As: transitioning

How Easy Is it to Transition to Natural Hair?

This really depends on your attitude toward your new growth, how willing you are to explore various styling possibilities and the amount of information you have. Some women have a difficult time dealing with the different textures of their natural vs. relaxed hair. It's best to choose hairstyles that blend the textures, opting for curly over straight. This places less stress on your hair overall and helps you begin to learn how it will be dealing with completely natural tresses.

Not surprisingly, some women get frustrated during this time and return to relaxing. Lots of patience will be required to get through your transition. You should arm yourself with as much information as possible, but don't get overwhelmed -- use what applies to you and don't worry about the rest.

In general, your transition to natural hair will be easier if you find some easy-to-manage styles you can create and accept your natural texture for what it does and what it can't do without too much manipulation.

Can You Only Transition from Relaxed Hair?

While most women who return to natural tresses do so from relaxed hair, some women have never had straightening chemicals applied to their manes. However, they still don't remember what their real hair looks like because they've relied on continuous pressing or flat ironing.

Constant heat styling can, over time, result in a looser texture as well as "controlled damage." Women who've pressed their hair for years can also transition back to a completely natural state.

How Long Should I Transition?

It's a good idea to consider some type of time frame once you decide to transition. You can always change how long you actually transition, but if you start out by giving yourself six months or two years of transitioning time, you're beginning with a plan in place. You may find three months into your journey that you're tired of trying to blend your various textures and cut everything off at once; likewise, some women go two years without relaxing because they want to hold onto their length and can only trim away small amounts at a time. It's up to you how long you stick with it. If you're a very patient person, you may find a longer transition enjoyable, while women who are less patient might be anxious to see what their natural hair looks like right now.