In recent years, women of African descent have been ditching relaxers in order to embrace their natural hair texture, honor their heritage, or simply improve the health of their hair and scalp.
If you are transitioning from relaxed to natural hair, or thinking about it, you are probably a bit worried about what to expect in the months to come.
Many women who have started their natural hair journey have done so after years of using relaxers, and others have decided to transition back to their natural hair after only a short time.
In either case, transitioning to natural hair can be a challenging yet rewarding experience. As a hairstylist, I have personally helped several of my clients through their transition to natural hair, from the first month all the way to the big chop where they ditch the last strands of their relaxed hair.
In this article, we will discuss what to expect during the first 8 months of the transition from relaxed to natural hair, and I will impart a few tips to help you along the way.
For the purposes of this article, we will assume that the hair grows about ½ inch every month, which is the average rate of hair growth.
However, while reading this article, keep in mind that everyone’s hair grows at slightly different rates.
Also, different textures of hair will look and feel different as they grow out, and you have to make allowances for shrinkage when looking at your hair growth.
Use the information in this article as a guide, and keep in mind that your natural hair journey will be totally unique to you.
What to Expect at Month Three of Transitioning to Natural Hair?
About three months into your natural hair journey, you are starting to see a noticeable difference between your new growth and your relaxed hair. You will have approximately 1.5 inches of new growth at this time.
How Your Hair Looks
The picture above shows what a person’s hair may look like at month three of transitioning from natural to relaxed hair. Notice how each picture depicts about 1-1.5 inches of new growth.
By month three, you are noticing that your roots look a bit puffy. You may find that it is a bit more difficult to style your roots in a way that blends with the rest of your hair because they are just long enough to be noticeable, but still short enough that they are a bit difficult to tame. But hey, if you like volume, you’re getting it!
How Your Hair Feels
As your curls grow out, your hair begins to feel thicker and denser at the roots. If you have been religiously relaxing your hair for years, you may find that after three months of growing out your natural hair, your scalp feels a bit…uncomfortable.
There’s probably less air reaching your scalp if your roots are very thick, and this can be an unfamiliar feeling. But, don’t despair! You will get used to it again, and your scalp and hair will thank you!
Tips to Maintain Your Hair at Month Three
Here are a few tips that you may want to keep in mind when you have reached month three of your natural hair journey:
- If you want to style your roots straight like the rest of your hair, try using a small round brush and a blow dryer to stretch them out. Of course, use plenty of heat protectants in order to avoid heat damage.
- If you feel that your scalp is a bit hotter than usual because of the thickness of your hair, try putting a drop of peppermint oil and/or tea tree oil into a spray bottle full of water and spritz this on your scalp. These oils will make your scalp feel cool and fresh. Of course, don’t apply the oils directly onto your scalp, as this can cause irritation. Make sure they are diluted with water. (Before you spray these essential oils on your scalp, make sure that you are not allergic to them by spraying a bit on the inside of your arm and watching for a reaction.)
- Because you have recently started your natural hair journey, it is important that you remember to treat your new growth a bit differently than your relaxed hair. Feel free to apply hair oils and conditioners on your roots that would perhaps be too heavy or oily for your relaxed hair.
What to Expect at Month Four of Transitioning to Natural Hair?
At month four of your transition from natural to relaxed hair, you have an even better idea of how your curl pattern is taking shape. At this point in time, you likely have around 2 inches of new growth.
How Your Hair Looks
This picture shows what one may expect at month four of their natural hair journey. Notice how, in each picture, there are about 2 inches of new growth, and you can see the curl pattern taking shape.
You may only notice a slight difference between month 3 and 4, but be assured that it is there. You probably have quite a bit of volume at your roots. Also, depending on the texture of your hair, you may see some cork-screw spirals starting to form, or even some tight, zig-zag shaped curls taking shape.
How Your Hair Feels
By this time, you are probably getting accustomed to your natural roots. Your natural hair is continuing to grow out thick and lush, and it is exciting to see your curls taking shape. It may be a little easier to style your roots at this point because you have a bit more length to work with.
Overall, month four may be similar to month three, but with a little more length.
Tips to Maintain Your Hair at Month Four
Here are a few tips that you may want to keep in mind when you have reached month four of your natural hair journey:
- If you want to style your roots straight, you may be able to use both a small round brush and a flatiron, since you have a little bit more length than you did at month three. However, it is still important that you use a heat protectant when styling your hair, and try to avoid using the highest heat setting on your flatiron if possible.
- When you shampoo your hair, be sure to scrub your roots thoroughly so that you ensure that your roots and scalp are totally clean. If you are used to gently shampooing your relaxed hair, you may need to remind yourself that, since your roots are now denser, cleansing them will require a bit more elbow grease.
- You are probably getting a bit anxious about your natural hair journey at this point, and you wish you could make your hair grow six inches in one night. You might even be tempted to slap on some relaxer and say you tried. If you are feeling frustrated and find that styling your hair is getting too difficult, it may be time for a protective style. It’s okay to take a break!
What to Expect at Month Six of Transitioning to Natural Hair?
Congratulations! You have been on your natural hair journey for half a year already. At month six of your journey, you are probably getting increasingly excited as you see the contrast between your natural and relaxed hair. At this point, you most likely have about 3 inches of new growth.
How Your Hair Looks
The photos above depict what your new growth may look like after about six months of your natural hair journey. Notice that in each picture there are about three inches of new growth, and the curl texture is very distinct.
By this point in the game, you have several inches of noticeable new growth. Of course, keep in mind that it may not look like three inches because of shrinkage, but if you stretch out your hair you will see just how much progress you have made. Your natural hair texture is clear to see, and you no doubt have a lot of volume at your roots.
How Your Hair Feels
By month six of your transition, you have a pretty good idea of how your natural hair texture is going to feel. If you haven’t been natural for a while, you may be surprised to feel how thick your natural hair is compared with your relaxed hair.
Even if you style your roots straight like the rest of your hair (with a heat protectant of course), you may still notice a contrast between your natural and relaxed hair.
Tips to Maintain Your Hair at Month Six
Here are a few tips that you may want to keep in mind when you have reached month six of your natural hair journey:
- If you want to style your natural hair straight in order to blend with your relaxed hair, be sure to use a low heat setting and lots of heat protectant, just as you would at month three or four. However, at this point it may be easier to do a protective style because even after you style your new growth straight, it may still look different than the rest of your hair.
- The health of your scalp and new growth is of the utmost importance, so make sure that you don’t start to slack off when it comes to moisturizing, cleansing, and caring for your hair. After 6 months of your natural hair journey, you may start to lose some of your enthusiasm. Resist the urge to start cutting corners, so to speak, when caring for your hair and scalp.
- Detangling your roots is becoming a bit more difficult as your natural hair grows out. It is best to detangle your new growth with a wide-toothed comb while it is saturated with conditioner. Be patient and gentle as you comb up to your scalp in order to avoid breakage and excess shedding.
What to Expect at Month Eight of Transitioning to Natural Hair?
Eight months into your natural hair journey, you are becoming a pro at caring for your new, healthy hair. Depending on your hair texture, your natural hair may span beyond just your roots at this point.
Your relaxed ends may be feeling like dead weight. At eight months, you probably have about 4 inches of new growth.
How Your Hair Looks
The picture shows what your hair may look like after eight months of transitioning from relaxed to natural hair. Notice that both pictures show about four inches of new growth and that the relaxed portion of hair looks much thinner than the natural new growth.
Eight months in, you are probably able to picture yourself without those relaxed ends, just rocking your natural hair. Your new growth is beginning to stretch to the mid-lengths of your hair, and depending on the length of your hair, it may even be half natural and half relaxed.
There is also a very noticeable difference in the thickness of your natural and relaxed hair, even if you style it all straight. All in all, your natural hair is starting to take over!
How Your Hair Feels
Month eight of your transition from relaxed to natural hair can be an exciting time. You can feel and see a huge contrast between your natural and relaxed hair when you are shampooing, conditioning, detangling, and styling.
At times, caring for your hair may get a bit overwhelming because it feels like you have two different sets of hair on your head…and you kinda do.
Tips to Maintain Your Hair at Month Eight
- Eight months into your transition to natural hair, you may feel that holding on to the relaxed lengths of your hair is just not worth it anymore. Your relaxed hair may be looking thin and stringy, and it could be preventing you from styling your hair the way you want. If you feel confident with how much new growth you have, it’s time for the big chop!
- If you feel that you are not quite ready for the big chop, a protective style is most likely the best option at this point. Because of the vast difference in thickness, density, and texture of your natural and relaxed hair, it may not be impossible to blend it well with styling. A protective style can save you some time and frustration as you continue to grow out your natural hair.
- Now, it is more important than ever to apply regular moisture and protein treatments to your hair. This will ensure that your hair stays strong and hydrated throughout your transition to natural hair and afterward. Healthy hair is beautiful hair, especially when it comes to curly hair textures.
Transitioning from relaxed to natural hair is so rewarding! Of course, with every journey there are difficulties, but the end goal is what motivates us. I hope this article gave you a good idea of what to expect on your natural hair journey so that you can succeed in achieving your best hair!
Key Things to Know:
- On average, our hair grows about ½ inch per month. This can vary from person to person, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t notice as much growth as you see in the pictures in this article. Everyone is different!
- It is important to make sure that your new growth is healthy and moisturized as it grows out.
- Protective styles can be a great way to minimize frustration during the transition from relaxed to natural hair.
- If you want to style your natural hair straight to match your relaxed hair, be sure to use plenty of heat protectants, and don’t overdo it by using the highest heat setting, or by applying heat to your hair every day.