Transitioning from chemically straightened to natural hair is definitely a process. If you don't want to do the big chop and get rid of your processed hair in one fell swoop, you have to live with two different textures of hair as it grows out. Here's what to expect and what you can do to make the process easier month to month. Keep in mind that every person's natural hair journey is different, even among similar textures.
The First Two Months
Your hair will grow between a half to one inch in the first two months.
This might be an easy time if you stuck to the general relaxer guideline of touch-ups every eight weeks. It's not too early to start thinking about good transition styles for the months ahead. If you aren't particularly confident in your styling abilities, take this time to practice and see if there are any styles that you can master for days when you need a quick and easy fallback hairdo.
Start getting into the habit of frequent deep conditioning, since natural hair tends to feel drier than relaxed hair. The sooner you start increasing moisture, the healthier your tresses will be overall.
The Third and Fourth Months
Around the third month, you should have between one and two inches of new growth.
This is when the transition can get more challenging, as you need to be very diligent in taking care of your tresses where your relaxed hair meets the new growth. This is an extremely fragile area and where you'll experience the most breakage, called the line of demarcation.
If you haven't already, begin using protein treatments about once a month. Alternate these with deep conditioners, which you should apply at least twice a month. It's important to keep the balance of protein and moisture in your hair at optimal levels to minimize breakage.
The Fifth Month
By now, you may have between two and three inches of new growth. Your relaxed hair will look markedly different from your curls and coils. (If you had a texturizer instead of a relaxer, the difference probably won't be as noticeable.)
Daily styling may be a challenge; the best thing to do would be to try styles that make the most of your curls, rather than fighting to straighten this new growth.
Continue with protein and deep conditioning treatments.
You might want to trim one to two inches of hair. Or, consider braid extensions as a way to get through the next few months. Some people obsess over how little it seems their hair is growing; wearing extensions is a good way to get your mind off of growth and to reduce daily styling.
Six Months and Beyond
At six months, you'll probably have about three inches of new growth, with the ends of your hair seeming to hang on for dear life. The sooner you get rid of your relaxed ends, the sooner you can begin to understand your hair's unique texture and learn how to work with it. If your relaxed hair is shorter than your new growth, consider cutting the processed ends away. This can be tough for those who like to wear their hair long. But let's be real: straggly ends do nothing for your look.
Your Long-Term Vision for Your Hair
Beyond six months, your relaxed hair is on its last legs. Some people have the patience and fortitude to transition very long term. If you just can't bear to have shorter hair than you're used to, be committed to truly pampering your hair so that you don't suffer excess breakage.
However, at this point, you should be more familiar (and maybe more comfortable) with your natural texture. When you cut off the rest of your relaxed tresses, you'll see how unique your hair is to you. Enjoy the possibilities that natural hair brings.