Whether you've had relaxed hair for decades or you recently received a chemical straightening treatment, the time might come when you want to switch back to natural. Is it actually possible to take a perm out of your hair without a big chop? Below, we separate the myths from the facts and share advice for your smoothest transition back to natural hair.
Can I Strip a Relaxer From My Hair?
Spend five minutes Googling, and you’ll find more than a few so-called solutions for removing a perm from relaxed hair, such as:
• Washing your hair with dish detergent
• Rinsing your hair with vinegar
• Coating your strands with a mayonnaise and egg mixture
But are these DIY treatments actually as effective as the internet says? Sadly, rinsing your hair with vinegar will not take out a perm or relaxer. And washing it with detergent? You’re more likely to end up with dried-out, roughed-up cuticles that feel hard and brittle—nothing like the healthy natural hair you’re wanting.
In fact, little can be done to reverse the effects of these chemical treatments, but there are other methods to use when transitioning to natural hair.
How to Switch to Natural Hair
The chemicals used during a relaxing treatment break down the protein bonds in your hair in order to change the texture. What this means is no shortcut will be able to bring your natural hair back to life. In fact, the only surefire way to remove a relaxer is to cut off the processed hair, which is commonly referred to as “the big chop.” If you’re not comfortable with the idea of cutting your hair off, allow enough time to regrow your strands first. If you were wishing to wake up with new hair, this might not be the answer you want to hear, but it’s not as interminable as you might think.
Hair grows an average of half an inch per month, so in six months, with proper care, you should see three inches of growth.
How Much Do I Cut to Get Rid of Relaxed Hair?
At which point in your hair growth process you decide to cut the processed ends is up to you. When the time comes, think back to your last touch-up, keeping in mind the average growth rate. If it's been four months since you last processed your hair, you probably have around two inches of new growth or natural hair, and the rest is older. Many women prefer to start their natural journeys themselves and feel empowered by trimming their own hair. Whether you work with a stylist or decide to cut your hair on your own, snip away anything past the new growth, and “dust” or finely trim any remaining bits of processed ends.
How to Style Your Hair
The best way to nurture your hair back to its healthy, natural state is to stop using heat entirely. If you’ve relied on flat irons, hot combs, and curling wands to style your hair in the past, it might take time to get used to new heat-free ways of styling your hair, but it’ll be worth it. Try wearing your hair in protective styles such as twist-outs, crochet braids, and wigs so you can take care of your new natural hair—and look good while doing it.