The transition stage is the period of either growing out or cutting off your relaxed hair. There are two primary ways to enter the transition phase, according to Dr. Kari “Your hair is trained to hang straight, and it’s going to take time to get back to your natural state,” says Dr. Kari. “You have two options to successfully transition back, and both offer a variety of styling options to help you succeed. They are the ‘big chop’ and the ‘little trim.’”
One of the most common ways to begin your natural hair journey is by doing the big chop. “This is when you cut off all of your straightened, damaged or processed hair — the stringy parts. Depending on the length of your natural curl, this chop will leave you with significantly shorter hair,” says Dr. Kari.
While many transitioners may rely on braids with extensions while transitioning, it is important to make sure you are not doing more harm than good. “Just remember, there are good and bad braiding techniques,” advises Dr. Kari. “Bad techniques or braids pulled too tightly can cause hair loss and create scalp infections.”
Going at your newly natural journey alone can make your transition more frustrating than it should be. “Your stylist will help you develop your routines and to implement healthy protective styles. There are resources out there to help you. Use them,” advises Dr. Kari.
If you’ve worn your hair relaxed or pressed straight for years at a time, getting used to your natural hair texture might be a challenge. The trick, according to Dr. Kari, is developing patience with your journey and finding the regimen that works best for you. “As you find the right shampoos, conditioners and styling products — your hair will begin to adapt to life without heat and show you what it can really do.”
Dr. Kari Williams is a trichologist, natural hair stylist and owner of Mahogany Revolution Salon and Trichology Clinic in the Beverly Hills area. For more of her expert advice on transitioning, pick up her book The Journey Back: How to Transition Back to Your Natural Curl and follow her on Twitter, @DrKariWilliams.