6 Regimen Adjustments that ALL Transitioning Naturals Should Make

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By Christina of The Mane Objective

Just a few weeks ago, I could’ve sworn it was all good with my transition. My bunning was working, weekend braidouts were dope, detangling and co-washing had become remarkably swift, and I had sealing down to a science. Then I woke up one Monday morning, and it seemed as if overnight, everything had changed. My hair became a tangled, dry mess. Where my buns were once awesome, I now had a strange case of alien-head hair. My banana clips snapped in two, and my claw clips exploded as soon as I tried to use them. I almost said screw the transition, and chopped off my heat damaged hair. Luckily, my sister talked me off of a ledge by reminding me that my head was too big to have short hair. Plus, BF would have been incredibly upset if I went from mid-back to chin length overnight.

I say all of the anecdotal information to say…long-term transitioning is not a one-dimensional or a stagnant process. On the contrary it is fluid — requiring change, flexibility, adjustments and assessment. Not to say that your hair’s needs will change from day to day or from week to week, but maybe about every two or three months you’ll need to take a time-out and see what’s really good with your new growth. It just dawned on me that I was almost eight months in to the no-heat challenge, and seasons were changing as well. Time to reinvent my regimen, give my products an update, and go back to the drawing board on tools.

1. Tweaking and Adjusting your Regimen

When I first began transitioning, it was nothin’ for me to slap a banana clip in my hair and rock a big bun all week. After all, the majority of my hair was still considerably thinner. I also damp detangled with a wide-tooth comb, and it never crossed my mind to section wash my hair. Fast forward eight months, and my hair eats banana clip for breakfast, I can’t accomplish any detangling without my trusty fingers and my hair saturated in water and conditioner, and section washing is mandatory. I say all this to say; sometimes you gotta switch it up.

As your new hair performs a takeover on your head, it demands adjustments in the regimen department. If your new hair requires more moisturizing and sealing, perhaps you need to make your washes more frequent as to avoid buildup. Maybe detangling sessions should be a once a week instead of every two weeks. If your old styles are doing more harm than good, you have to go back to the drawing board. Evaluate every aspect of your regimen – how frequently you cleanse, detangle, manipulate, condition, trim, and everything in-between. Chances are, some things you were doing four months ago no longer cut it when it comes to your hair – or even worse, have an adverse effect.

2. Using Products that Add and Retain Moisture

During the first few months your transition, you are most likely working with majority relaxed, heat damaged, or otherwise majorly straightened hair with a curl pattern that pales in comparison to the natural stuff that is beginning to sprout from your scalp. If you were like me, you went easy on the heavy oils and butters, and opted for lighter or diluted products to moisturize and seal your hair, so that your straightened hair doesn’t get stringy. Somewhere between the 4 and 6 month mark, you probably noticed that your new hair isn’t retaining as much moisture as it used to. You’re not crazy – you just need to kick your products up a notch. More highly textured hair – regardless of “type” (which I happen to not be a fan of) – requires heavier and more consistent moisture.

3. Using Gentler Shampoos

If you’re still using shampoos frequently (weekly, or more often…especially sulfated), it may be time to wean yourself off the abrasive formulas and switch to something that will coddle your new tresses. Co-washes are always great for gentle cleansing, but if you are an avid workout person or suffer from product build-up and need to clarify your hair and scalp often, apple cider vinegar, Aztec Healing Clay, and Shea Moisture African Black Soap Purification Masque are great alternatives for cleansing.

4. Start a Conditioning Regimen

If you don’t already, it’s high time to start conditioning. I don’t mean deep condition as in walk around with a Target bag on your head for 12 hours under a beanie while you run errands. But if you choose to do this, more power to you. Unless you have uber dry hair that requires constant deep conditioning, once or twice a month for a thirty minute to an hour deep conditioning session is sufficient. Personally, after a weekly co-wash, I follow up with a regular conditioner (either Tresemme, TIGI Catwalk, or Shea Moisture) for about 10 minutes while I shower. To retain extra moisture, I began only rinsing 60-70% of the conditioner out of my hair and using the remaining product as a leave-in. This is optional, especially for those concerned about buildup.

5. Using heavier products, like Butter and Creams

As I said earlier, you most likely started out with lighter products in this arena. If you’re like me, you try to get the most bang for your buck and find products that accomplish both. Earlier in the transition game, I blended Aloe Vera Gel and Shea Moisture Coconut Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie to make a light moisturizing and holding product – perfect for twist and braid-outs. As more of this thick and thirsty hair began sprouting, I began relying on heavier products to help me out. For moisture, layering a penetrating oil like Coconut Oil and topping off with straight up Curl Enhancing Smoothie (no Aloe) has been great for retaining moisture and made for some ah-may-ZING braid-outs and flat twists. Depending upon what your hair likes, incorporating shea butter, jojoba, or castor oil (among a gazillion other great oils) can help your hair retain moisture better than the lighter products like aloes and spritzes.

6. Using Gentler Tools

As you transition, your tools may need an upgrade too. Once I discovered my wide tooth comb was a joke, I upgraded (or is it downgraded?) to finger detangling. When my banana clips would randomly just pop open and fall apart in the most disrespectful manner possible, I had to move on to other methods of protective styling. At some juncture, slicking back my edges with my hands stopped working, and I had to adopt a soft-bristle brush. You may discover that you need different tools, or that you don’t need tools at all. Remember, the things you use to handle your hair are just as important as what you put in/on it.

What other areas have you had to change up during your transition?

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Christina Patrice

Christina Patrice

Born, raised, and living in Los Angeles, Christina is BGLH's resident transitioning expert and product junkie. In addition to loving all things hair, she is a fitness novice and advocate of wearing sandals year-round. For more information on transitioning, natural hair, and her own hair journey, visit maneobjective.com. Or, if you like pictures follow Christina on Instagram @maneobjective.

 

18 thoughts on “6 Regimen Adjustments that ALL Transitioning Naturals Should Make

  1. amen to the finger detangling. i wouldn’t dream of combing my hair now. i tried it a few months ago just to see if anything had changed, and nope, it still broke my hair. for the first time in my life i have no split ends, and very minimal breakage! i’m rather well pleased.

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  2. Relaxed hair is a polar opposite to naturally curly hair. Sorry curlies. It requires that you learn about your hair all over again. Good news: Once you have a routine down that works, your hair will thrive and grace you with bountiful cuuuurls! :)

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  3. Transitioning IMO is the best way to mentally and physically prepare for 100% natural hair. I have been transitioning now for 14 months and this has allowed me to find what products works best for my “new” hair and get a regimen down….the key for me is I have treated my hair like it was natural since my last relaxer.

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    • Hi B…I’ve been transitioning for 15 months now and my major problem is my relaxed ends completely shedding in the shower or whenever I go to detangle. I know this hair is much weaker than my natural curls but the hair is coming out in clumps. You really can’t tell once I’ve styled it but I’m afraid it’s going to end up real stringy and I’ll eventually have to chop it all off. Just like this article stated…that wouldn’t work with the BF going from long to short. Do you have any suggestions?

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      • Wow, sorry to hear you are having issues. I usually apply some type of oil, coconut usually before detangling. The oil helps with slip. I also dont detangle in shower I take my time and do it with a spray bottle and conditioner at the sink. I wet my hair under the sink and use the spray bottle to keep it wet. I use a wide tooth comb starting at my ends and working my way to my roots.
        Are you deep conditioning?? I do so once a week when I co wash…I have had some breakage but nothing severe…

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        • No, I don’t deep condition on a regular basis. I used a plastic cap that helps you use your natural heat to deep condition but that’s it. I wish my hair could hold on. I’m going to get some coconut oil and try doing that next time. I’ve tried detangling from the the ends to the roots but I still lose a lot of strands. I’m just going to work this until it looks so ridiculous I’ll have no choice but to big chop. Hopefully it wont come down to that.

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          • Juanita, I think my hair was doing the exact same thing the first months and then it stop. Now the shedding is minimal or what I would normally expect. I think it was getting rid of all the very damage hair and what’s left is the hair that will hold on. BTW my hair is very thin and that’s why it breaks so easily.

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          • How do you style your hair?? Your hair sounds like its breaking from dryness. Are you moisturizing daily and you should do a protein treatment to correct the breakeage issues…check out curlynikki.com message board and youtube.com for advice also

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  4. A few of these apply to everyone. I’d add:

    Tailor make a regimen that is JUST for you.

    Oftentimes newer naturals, those who haven’t figured out a working regimen and established naturals searching for length will follow another ‘successful’ natural’s regimen in the hopes of achieving the same results and are left defeated and disappointed when it doesn’t work for them. I would say that you need to take the time to work out your natural hair regimen and that you may end up wasting time and money on techniques and products that are not for your hair. That is just part of working out what your hair likes and dislikes. I am only starting to learn now after 4 years.

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    • +1 “I would say that you need to take the time to work out your natural hair regimen and that you may end up wasting time and money on techniques and products that are not for your hair.”—> SO TRUE!!

      You can have the same 4a/4b/3c (whatever) hair type as someone else, but not have the same type of hair overall. Everyone’s hair is unique to them. Find out what works for you!

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      • Lol yes! I never tried following anyone’s regimen because I’ve never seen a natural with hair like mine BUT best believe I bought into many product raves, poo pooed certain things I later went back to (butters) and adopted things that just didn’t work for me (conditioner combing anyone?) not to mention all the rest. It really is a journey and one that is completely without shortcuts.

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  5. My issue is that my ends are crunchy! I don’t know if that is because of the relaxed ends or if that’s how how my hair will always be

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  6. I wholeheartedly agree with revisiting your regimen every few months during the transition period as you grow more natural hair. Also, the seasons may drastically change what’s happening with your hair AND skin, especially if you live in the Midwest where we get the hottest of Summer and the coldest of Winter.

    Good article! :-)

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  7. Heyy, I would like to start transitioning…my hair is wearing out a relaxer so should I put like micros in my hair or go straight to co washing it starting my transition what do you think I should do?

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  8. I been in transitioning for 4 months. What are some good protein products. I learn the first step is my hair health. It was not. My hair is damage and is high posoity. So alot of protein is a must. Do anybody know deep conditions for the amounted time or leave it in long as overnight.

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  9. Finger detangling definetley stops the breakage from combing it all the time and low manipulation hairstyles too! Generally being much gentler with my hair

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  10. I had shoulder surgery back in August and cannot do my own hair. I have been having my daughter braid my hair then put a weave in it. I haven’t had a perm since last year August. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to keep my own hair moisturized with the weave in it? My hair is just past shoulder length. My daughter is not helping me and it’s hard to only have one arm to help me take care of my hair. Any advice will be helpful.

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