I transitioned my relaxed hair back to naturally curly coily hair once when I was young, yet have big chopped (cut off all of my hair) a total of four different times for different reasons. I cut off all of my hair the first time because I wanted to feel beautiful without hair, the second time for severely color damaged hair, the third time after having started locing my hair after a year and a half, and the fourth time again to remove all of the chemically colored hair after doing a hair industrial. If you are wanting to grow your hair long and healthy and transition from chemically treated or heat damaged hair, here are 15 tips to help you do just that.
1. Stop Using Shampoo
Shampoo is not our friend. Shampoos especially with sulfate ingredients leave a film behind on the hair strands and completely strip the hair because sulfates are strong detergents. When you strip the hair completely you leave it bare, dry, and brittle hoping that the conditioning process with replenish all that was removed.
Instead of continuing this vicious cycle, using natural and gentle cleanser such as rhassoul or bentonite clay, yucca root etc. will gently cleanse and soften your hair simultaneously. You may even want to try the DIY Cleansing Conditioner. You can also read more about these natural hair cleanser in this article. You can also conditioner wash you hair which will add moisture and ease with the detangling process. You can read about my favorite natural conditioners here.
2. Tension Free Hair Styling
If you are transitioning from chemically treated hair, your hair is especially weak at the demarcation line (where your natural hair and chemically treated hair connect). It is important to keep your new growth stretched and blended with your chemically treated hair. Create heat-less curls with braid outs, twist outs, and roller sets if you have naturally curly coily hair. Heat-less curls are also a great way to hide heat damaged hair. Wearing your hair in tension free up-do styles which do not pull at the roots of your hair is also important. You can always add a headband to make the front look smooth.
3. Slowly Trim Off Damaged Hair
Our hair grows an average of 1/2 inch per month. If you desire a slow transition from chemically treated or heat damaged hair, trim off 1/2 inch of hair per month. In essence your hair will not be loosing any inches and you will not have to experience a dramatic cut in the end. Depending upon how curly coily your hair is, you may begin to notice shrinkage as more of your heat damaged and chemically treated hair is cut off.
If you’ve never trimmed your own hair then this tutorial will give you confidence. If your hair is short I would only do step one of this tutorial as a U-cut looks best on longer hair. It is always easier to manage hair with bluntly cut ends which is why slowly trimming your hair monthly will help with the transitioning process.
4. Keep Hair Moisturized
Moisturize your hair daily. Using a spray bottle filled with aloe vera and distilled water or the DIY Leave-In Conditioner, you can literally only spritz the roots of your hair, or lightly spritz all of your hair to keep them soft and hydrated. Use an oil to seal in the moisture. If your hair is really thick you may want to use shea butter to seal in the moisture. Keeping your hair moisturized will help prevent hair breakage.
5. Deep Condition Hair Weekly
You can deep condition your hair with your favorite conditioner adding oils or even make your own deep conditioner with natural ingredients such as coconut milk, avocados, bananas (preferably organic banana baby food) etc. Deep conditioning your hair will keep it strong, manageable, and help you maintain moisture in your hair. For more natural conditioning ideas read this article.
6. Henna Treatments
Henna is a natural and permanent hair dye which conditions the hair like no other. Henna deposits into the weak and damaged areas of hair strands creating stronger shiny hair. Unless henna is mixed with cassia or indigo, the color it provides is red. The hue of henna on dark brown to black hair will only show as red highlights mainly seen in sunlight. On lighter hair henna will give a natural red hair color.
I use henna as a monthly deep conditioning treatment to keep my hair strong and manageable. I’ve read on hair forums that some use henna as a means to stretch relaxer applications as it makes the new growth more manageable, yet for transitioning from relaxed hair I feel this will also be very helpful. I only mix henna with coconut milk which I explain in this article. You can also read in detail how I use henna here. Deep condition hair after using henna every time.
7. Chemically Treated/Heat Damaged Hair Weighs Down Hair Strands
If you have naturally curly coily hair with chemically treated or heat damaged ends, your hair will not show it’s true curls and coils until the damaged hair is completely cut off. I have a friend who had heat damaged hair and began wearing her hair curly again. Her hair still curled some yet it wasn’t until she got past her fear and finally cut off all of the damage that her curls popped. Her hair looked drastically curlier and very beautiful!
8. Use Gentle Hair Tools & Treat Hair Gently
Use a wide tooth comb for detangling as well as incorporate finger detangling into your routine. Finger detangling takes longer especially when you are first learning how to so it but will allow less breakage over time. Also avoid hair styling accessories with metal, hair pins with broken tips, and especially rubber bands which will snag and break hair strands. Instead use seamless hair bands, hair pins with smooth tips, and other gentle friendly hair accessories such as satin hair scrunchies. Also treat your hair like a fine lace. No matter how strong you think your hair is, it is better to care for your hair delicately and with patience.
9. Soften Hair With The Baggy Method
One of the easiest ways to soften your hair is by lightly spritzing your hair with water and coating the hair with a light layer of oil. Braid hair into at least four sections and cover with a conditioning cap overnight. You can use this method as a styling method for a braid out by adding rollers to the ends of your hair and allowing your hair to completely dry before removing or as a pre-wash treatment.
10. Protective Styling & Up-Dos
If detangling your hair is a struggle, wearing your hair in styles where it can’t move around and tangle is crucial. There are so many beautiful up-do styles that you do that will keep your hair protected from the cold weather, wind, and sun. Also up-dos are a great way to hide heat damaged and transitioning hair. If you are transitioning and the two textures of your hair are greatly showing, you can use heat-less curl styles such as braid or twist outs to blend the two textures and then put your hair in a beautiful up-do.
11. Always Care For & Style Hair In Sections
It is easier to manage hair in sections. I always do my hair in four sections. I wash, condition, and style my hair in these four sections. I detangle my hair in eight sections so I am not trying to manage all of my hair at the same time. Even if you only use two sections you will notice more ease in your hair care process.
12. Wear A Satin/Silk Scarf Every Night
Wearing a satin/silk scarf at night allows your hair to maintain moisture and also prevents friction while sleeping and hair breakage. I also believe it greatly helps to braid or even twist hair up at night to prevent the mobility of your hair. If wearing a scarf isn’t your thing, sleep on a satin/silk pillowcase instead.
13. Read Product Ingredients
It is very important to avoid products with drying ingredients such as alcohols and silicones. Alcohol obviously is drying to hair, yet silicones prevent moisture from penetrating the hair once the product with silicone is applied. Daily moisturizing after using a product with silicones will not help with retaining moisture in your hair. Here is a list of ingredients to avoid for your overall health as well. By reading your product ingredients you will also learn more about what ingredients work well for your hair.
14. Don’t Use Heat On Your Hair
If you have damaged hair using heat on your hair will only continue set backs on your healthy hair journey. Water boils at 100 degrees Celsius and 212 degrees Fahrenheit. I’ve never seen a heat appliance that works without boiling the water out of your hair. Using heat on your hair only removes the much needed hydration and causes dry brittle hair. Using heat-less curl styles along with air drying is best for healthy hair.
15. Be Patient
No matter whether your hair is heat damaged or you are transitioning to naturally curly coily hair, nothing happens overnight. Being patient with the transitioning process is vital. Also when you are nursing your hair back to health you can not expect it to look like vibrant healthy hair right away. This is why finding beautiful up-do hairstyles is so helpful. Wearing your hair up will keep your hands out of your hair throughout the day and also keep your critical eye far from it whenever you look in the mirror. Have patience and do your best to enjoy your healthy hair process!
Do you have any other tips for transitioning from chemically treated or heat damaged hair?
(Image by D Sharon Pruitt)