Natural Hair "Rules" that Transitioners Should Bend

This post was featured on Black Girl with Long Hair. Check it out here, or keep reading below!

When I first began to transition seriously, I made a lot of mistakes (like most people). But perhaps the biggest mistake of all was attempting to follow -- to the tee -- the regimen of the natural blogger/vloggers who's hair I simply adored and felt mine had the potential to "look like". Now it is said that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect different results. I would like to offer up an alternative definition: doing the same thing that a completely different person is doing, and expecting identical results. This is not to say that ideas, routines, methods, and products are not worth sharing -- but simply that more often, not all the rules apply to you in the same manner. I have found this to be especially true for transitioners. In fact, there are several practices that are done more frequently by transitioners than by full-on naturals. Here is that list, in no particular order...

More Frequent Trims
Most naturalistas trim their hair once, twice, or in rare cases, three times a year. This can be frustrating for a transitioner to read about or see in a YouTube video because well, transitioners have no choice but to trim or cut their hair more frequently. As the natural hair comes in, the heat damaged or relaxed hair must be trimmed or cut -- that's the point of transitioning, right? More than that, heat damaged and relaxed hair is more prone to splitting and breakage (because they are damaged), thus requiring more frequent cutting. I used to be upset that every 2-3 months, I was cutting off more of my length. But then I realized, that was the point of the transition and I got over it.

More Frequent Co-Washing and Clarifying
Some naturals wash their hair weekly -- others monthly or beyond. As a transitioner I must say, I envy you. I used to believe there was something wrong with having to hit the "reset" button on my hair twice and sometimes three times a week. As I get further along, I realize that there is nothing wrong with co-washing or clarifying hair more often. Whether it be due to a failed styling attempt (hello, big flexi rods), because of tangles from frequent manipulation, or product buildup due to searching for the perfect creams, pomades, and oils -- co-washing and clarifying more often than weekly is perfectly okay for a transitioner.  Just remember to be gentle, patient, and take your time.

More Frequent Pre-Poos and Deep Conditioning
Some naturals pre-poo and DC once every few weeks or every month -- not because they don't benefit from these processes, but because they wash their hair more infrequently, and therefore these pre-and post-wash treatments are done less often. As we learned in the previous paragraph, some transitioners benefit from more frequent cleansing sessions and therefore -- would stand to benefit from more pre-poos and deep conditionings. In addition to that, these two treatments have been proven to lessen damage to the hair cuticle, help retain moisture, and strengthen against breaking -- three critical functions for transitioners looking to retain length and prevent hair from further damaging.

More Frequent Detangle Sessions
For the longest time, detangling had me baffled. I would wear my hair in buns for 3 or so days, take it down, and my hair would be completely tangled. How on earth did my hair get so tangled, from being in a bun?! And what frustrated me further was the fact that my hair would not cooperate the next day unless I detangled it. Then it dawned on me -- I have in theory, two hair types: damaged and non-damaged. The two types of hair behave differently, and have different needs (so to speak). I actually find that the culprit of the majority of my tangles is the heat damaged hair, and that in order to avoid a matted mess, I have to detangle all my hair (finger or wide-tooth comb) at least two or three times a week. Detangled hair is happy hair, so if you have to do it more often than not, that is okay. Again, the key here is to have a good, slippery product, and patience.

More Frequent Manipulation/Styling
Twists, braids, and other low-manipulation styles done by other naturalistas need not apply. Unless you are adding in fake hair, achieving styles that stay put for a week or more at a time are virtually impossible. Twists won't stay twisted, braids unravel, and mini-twists become a major mess. Even bunning becomes an everyday occurrence. Many naturalistas that protectively style with buns are able to rock them for days at a time. Transitioners may find themselves re-doing buns daily -- and it is what it is.

More Frequent Product Switching
Transitioning hair is ever-changing. As more natural hair grows, and the damaged hair is trimmed away, you may find your hair needing different conditioners, cleansing products, styling, and sealing products. Not that this is an excuse to become a product junkie, but it is a reality. Products that once worked for my hair are now too light. Styling aids that gave me the sleek  looking hair I adored now are counterproductive to my big-hair goals. Some conditioners are now not moisturizing enough. Now, if you're transitioning and have found your holy grail products then great. But if you haven't quite found your stride, don't fret. It's perfectly okay.

Your hair may be multiple textures, on top of the damaged ends. Some styling tools that worked last month may not fit on your hair in 2013. No, you can't rock a wash n go yet. You may feel like you hair is tangling too much, too dry, or taking too long to grow. You may start to miss your flat ironed or straightened hair, and get frustrated to the point of contemplating saying "screw this natural thing". Trust me, I understand -- I have felt all of the above and then some. But the key is to remain patient, and stay encouraged. Natural hair is on the way!


  1. Great article as usual. I've found that I was doing the same thing as you which was trying to follow other naturals and I was not having success which is why I practically jumped up and down when I read the first article of yours that I read. It was about heat damaged hair as opposed to relaxed hair. I was so frustrated that I could not do a twist out to save my life because the ends untwisted and if I used rollers or rods I looked like Little Orphan Annie with a fro, which is cool, but not what I was going for... My hair has been natural since Dec 2009 but I was flat ironing weekly... I'm slowly adjusting to not using heat, but will do it if I have to (traveling for work, etc...) I actually wore it straight over Christmas and decided that even though it looked nice I HATED it because it was so plain. LOL. Now my hair is a mess in a messy ponytail, but at least I didn't put heat on it. Anyway, thanks for the great article, I make sure to read all of your articles on this site and BGLH. One thing that I tell friends of mine who are starting to go natural is to figure out their goals ahead of time so that they don't waste years like I did using heat when they ultimately want to achieve curly hair.