Hey You Asked: Advice For A Transitioning Naturalista

Dear PBG,

                I am 24 yrs old and have never had the interest or desire to transition to natural hair until now. My hair was falling out in patches and the breakage was unbearable.  I cut my hair in May and I haven’t had a perm since February. I have been researching how to transition to natural hair but everywhere I look someone is talking about THE BIG CHOP, weaves or wigs. I need your help!!!! Please let me know what I can do with my hair to make this transition without THE BIG CHOP or weaves. I don’t mind braids but I would love to wear my hair out and enjoy it while I make this healthy transition. Please give me any advice you can as far as products I can use and easy hairstyles. I refuse to do THE BIG CHOP.  My hair and I would go into shock, so any advice, tips, forums or links you can tell me about would be great.


 Thank You,

Natural Hair Crybaby


Hey Naturalista! Don’t cry. It’s not as difficult as you think it is.

First off, I think the reason that people recommend the Big Chop over transitioning is because hanging on to permed ends isn’t the best choice when going natural. The “line of demarcation” is where your fresh natural texture new growth meets your permed hair:

source: www.antihairslave.com

That is where your hair is weakest when you’re growing your hair out and it is very susceptible to breakage. In reality, there is no real reason to hang on to permed ends if you’re going to stop using relaxers. But, I know that we tend to want to hang on to our length. Believe me, I know. I transitioned for a year before I just gave up and chopped. That Length Struggle be REAL for Black girls! LOL! But that doesn’t mean you can’t hold on to your length while you grown your hair out. It just means you have to be very careful. Minimal heat and minimal manipulation and what I like to call “mini chops”. “Mini chops” are when you get a little bit of the perm cut out every few months until it’s all gone. That way you will save yourself and your hair from “shock”. LOL…when I read that part of your letter I laughed out loud…Hair grows back! I promise! LOL!  Since you don’t mind braids, those would be a perfect protective style for you.

My friend Kellie held on to her permed ends for a long time, so when I was doing her hair through her transition time, the styles that worked best were roller/rod sets and bantu knot-outs. You can find tutorials for these very simple styles on Youtube. Once we cut off Kellie’s permed hair, her curls POPPED like crazy and her hair seemed to grow faster than before and she was just more satisfied with her hair. Eventually you will too, so don’t fret.

As for products, I am a big fan of Oyin Handmade products (burnt sugar pomade, juices n’ berries moisturizing spray)  and Shea Moisture products (deep treatment masque, curl & style milk) for styling. My favorite shampoo is Dr.Bronner’s All-In-One Peppermint Soap and my favorite conditioner is Tresseme Naturals for curly hair. I use EcoStyler Olive Oil or Aragan Oil Gels exclusively and Lottabody Olive Oil Styling Foam for roller and rod sets. I use Giovanni Direct Leave-In Conditioner exclusively now after starting out with Cantu Shea Butter Leave In last year. My favorite oils are extra virgin coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil and apricot oil. In winter when I prefer something heavier I use avocado butter or castor oil.

Check out these blogs/forums for more advice on transitioning and caring for your natural hair:

Curly Nikki

Back To Curly



(I’ll add more later, but these are the ones I read regularly).

And while I don’t always post a lot on technique and care for natural hair, I tend to write a lot about attitudes and experiences with natural hair. Click on that tag at the top of my post to check out some of it.

I hope this helps and feel free to ask any other questions you have!


Dedicated Readers, any additional advice for this transitioning Naturalista? Feel free to drop links and tips in the comment section. Thanks!












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  • Anonymous

    Minimal heat and minimal manipulation and A LOT of patience while your hair transition and you mind become unconditioned.

  • Pat

    Ariella89 and napturallycurly on youtube have transitioning tutorials that are really helpful. I’m a transitioner myself(8 1/2 months), these ladies help me tremendously.

  • http://thekokopellidiaries.blogspot.com Michele

    I have been loc’ing for 5  1/2 years.  I also didn’t want to cut off all of my hair, so I didn’t.  I didn’t experience any breakage.  But reading this I realized that this may be due to the fact I set my hair regularly.  I did it mainly so my little, skinny baby locs wouldn’t look so pitiful and I would have more body.  I’m glad it had the side effect of keeping my hair strong.

  • Rayona L. Young

    If you aren’t wanting to do a big chop, then braids and twists are a great way to go…and I know you want to wear it loose, but these are great ways to keep your length with less damage.  Eventually, you will need to get rid of your straight ends (as you probably know), but protective styles such as these should get you thru, for up to a year, at least.  Make sure you are doing plenty of scalp stimulation, because that’s what helps the hair grow.  Massages, brushing, even scratching your scalp helps promote growth.  Also, be sure to add keratin rich foods to your diet (your hair is nothing but keratin as it is, and keratin is nothing but DNA and Protein).  Hope this helps…happy transitioning!

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