How to transition from relaxed to natural hair (10 tips to make it easier)


Do you want to transition from relaxed to natural hair? and are stuck at how to go about it? I transitioned from relaxed to natural hair about two and a half years ago and I would confidently say that my hair is fully natural now. I have the 4C natural hair type, with high porosity and a coarse texture.

I did not do the big chop but opted to slowly transition by wearing protective styles, not relaxing anymore, and gradually trimming off my relaxed ends. Those were the main things I vividly remember doing.


I honestly didn’t know what I was doing at that time because I have had relaxed hair for most of my life. My mum relaxed my hair when I joined the high school to make it ‘manageable’ because, boy, I got a head full of hair. Who would be combing or styling that hair every morning? My mum, haha, probably me, and I was clueless at that time. I was okay with relaxed hair at that time.

I became an adult, and I began noticing some ladies with natural hair and I just loved the overall appearance. I was sure that’s how I wanted my hair to look. That’s the hairstyle I wanted for most of my young adult life. Most women at that time were beginning to appreciate our African natural hair and natural hair products were slowly being introduced into the market



It took me about 5 years to fully figure out how to handle natural hair and come up with a list of dos and don’ts for my 4C natural hair. Relaxed hair is history and I now fully have my natural hair in place as I visioned five years ago.

Besides, I have learned how to take care of my own hair from home. My heart is full now I’m happy I can pre-poo, shampoo, deep condition, and style my won hair from the comfort of my home. I occasionally visit the salon to have my hair braided. I truly love this space where am at with my hair.

Letting go of the perm and embracing the hair that naturally grows out of your head

The transition process simply means letting go of your relaxed (permed) hair and embracing the hair that naturally grows out of your head.

This content is meant for you if you currently have relaxed hair and want to transition to natural hair without chopping off your hair. Ideally, you wait for your virgin hair to grow while you trim off the relaxed ends so that you maintain the length of your hair.

I would like to share some tips on how to transition from relaxed to natural hair. These are basically the things I did in my transition journey that made the process easier and effortless. I have also learned a lot about African natural hair through the transition process.

afro-wooden pallet outdoor

Learn about your new hair growth as you transition for relaxed to natural hair

As your hair grows, you’ll notice that it is different from your relaxed hair from the way it feels and looks like. You may panic a little bit at one point during your transition journey. That’s relatable. One reason, I panicked is because I was a bit shaken when I noticed I couldn’t comb my natural hair the same way I combed my relaxed hair. So, I thought this is more work coming my way.

Take time and research about your type of hair type and which products you can try out, which tools to use and how to handle your new hair growth. Your effort to explore and learn goes a long way here otherwise, you may run back to relaxed hair.

transition for relaxed to natural hair

Allow yourself and your hair time to adjust

Transitioning from permed to natural hair is not an overnight thing. This is a gradual process that may last up to 6 months or more. Be patient with yourself and allow yourself time trial and error. Allow yourself to make mistakes in the process.

I remember this time when I had just begun washing my hair from home during the transition phase. That time most of my hair was natural. I rinsed off the leave-in conditioner, yet it’s supposed to be left in the hair. My hair turned so dry. What a waste but I forgave myself.

transition for relaxed to natural hair

When I began my transition journey, I would backslide a couple of times. What I would do was get tempted and go back-to-back to have a section of my hair relaxed so I would wear my favorite weave.

What this does is that your whole hair doesn’t transition at the same pace. So, the front section of my head had the most relaxed hair while the rest of the hair was fully natural.

Also, remember not to quit when you face one setback. At times you will wake up and wonder what on earth happened to your hair.

Do yourself a favor and get a satin bonnet to wear to bed as you begin this transition process. It helps from prevents a lot of tangles as you sleep and that means less work on your hair in the morning.

Don’t forget trimming is part of the transition process

Trim your relaxed hair when you feel ready. There is no specific time to trim off the relaxed ends but when you are ready.

Some people prefer to start trimming as soon as their natural hair starts to grow. Other people completely trim off all the relaxed hair a soon as they notice a little growth in their virgin hair.

I realized that I was emotionally attached to my longer relaxed hair and didn’t trim any hair until the final stages. It took me months to take a great leap of faith and hold a scissor up to my hair. Although, I didn’t trim off all the relaxed parts I did it gradually with time.

Then because the front section of my head had the longest strands of relaxed permed hair. It took a lot of internal battles whether to trim it or let the relaxer go off by itself. But one year down the line almost a quarter of the length was still relaxed, and I made peace with the fact that I had to finally let go and tri off the relaxed ends.

As of now, my whole head of hair is 100%, and I am happy with my decision and journey. Some might say but it’s just hair. I say hair gives one a self-image, an identity, and that signature because it’s that one part of our body that we can never hide. It is visible for the whole world to see, and it is important for us to take good care of it.

Moisturize your natural hair as you transition

When our hair is relaxed, moisturizing is the last thing we think of. The fact is, African natural hair needs to be consistently moisturized to stay healthy. Type 4 hair especially the 4B and 4C hair types only thrive when well moisturized. These two hair types have similar characteristics, in that the curl patterns are quite similar, except for 4C hair which has the tightest of all coils. 4C hair is the hair type I have.

The reason 4C hair dries out quite fast when in its natural state is because of the tight curl pattern. The tight coils prevent even distribution of the hair’s natural oil called sebum hence the need to ensure this type of hair is always well moisturized. At this point of transition, conducting research to find quality creams and conditioners that work well for your hair texture and porosity is the best thing to do.

transition for relaxed to natural hair

My piece of advice to you is to have at least three product lines with the best conditioners that you can incorporate as part of natural hair regimen. The most helpful conditioning creams that really work well with my course textured, high porosity 4C natural hair are Mosara, Marula Oil Conditioner, and Ossat Leave-in Conditioner. Find moisturizing products that work for you here and stick to them.

Finding a hairstyle that works for you

I personally went with the Afro puff hairstyle. That is my signature look as I go to work and go about my daily activities. The open Afro would work as well if you were to do the big chop and let your natural hair slowly grow.

Find a hairstyle that suits your hair at this point of transition and wear it. This is not the time to experiment with so many over manipulative hairstyles with your hair.

afro puff

Switch between your hair and protective hairstyles

Protective styles allow you to grow out your perm without having to struggle with dealing with the transition dynamics every other time. In other words, that saves you a lot of worries and confusion that might come with the transition process.

You may decide to go with braids, wigs, and weaves. I did a lot of braiding through my transition process just to help minimize the number of times I’d have to handle my hair and manipulate it.

However, take note not to destroy your edges or hairline as you wear some braids. Certain types of braids have coarse textures, especially kinky braids. This can be rough on the hairline. This is one mistake I made and regret to date. I almost ruined my hairline. Thank God for Black castor Oil, I’m slowly regaining my hairline.

braids-protective hairstyle

Start co-washing rather than shampooing

During the transition stage, it is wise to begin co-washing your hair during the cleaning process as opposed to shampooing every other time.

This is because shampooing your hair every now and then leaves your hair dry and stripped of its natural oils even if you use a conditioner afterward.

4C hair natural hair is naturally dry and your main goal should be working hard to retain moisture in your hair.

If you have a scalp that is prone to dandruff or retains a lot of builds, you may opt for a clarifying shampoo.

transition for relaxed to natural hair

Be gentle with your natural hair as you transition for relaxed to natural hair

African natural hair looks strong but in a real sense, it’s the most delicate type of hair. It, therefore, calls for naturalists like us to handle our hair with utmost care.

In fact, 4C natural hair is the most delicate type of hair and breaks easily.

Also, don’t manipulate your natural hair when it is dry. Get yourself a spritz bottle and mist your hair anytime you want to manipulate it.

I would advise that you follow natural hair bloggers on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest and learn from them. YouTube is the best platform to learn all about natural hair since there are video tutorials.

I learned how to detangle, moisturize, and style my hair from YouTube videos. I also got to know which tools I must possess to enable me to take care of my hair from the comfort of my home.

4C natural haie

Switch your hair accessories as you transition for relaxed to natural hair

You will notice that when switching from relaxed hair to natural hair, for those of us who have already switched and those of us who are in the process, you may need to switch your hair accessories.

Headscarves and bands are the ideal hair accessories to rock at this stage of your hair transition journey.

Look at some accessories you may want to try here.

transition for relaxed to natural hair

Feel at liberty to switch back to relaxed hair if you discover natural hair is not for you

Listen, darling, there is no rule that states you must stick to natural hair once you begin the transition process and that you cannot go back to relaxing your hair once you shift.

If you feel that keeping natural hair is not for you, feel free to switch back.

It is not a lie that having natural hair can be a whole lot of work sometimes especially during wash days when you must pre-poo, shampoo, detangle, moisturize, you know.

orange dress

For me, I enjoy doing all that because I love my 4C natural hair and love taking good care of it. We are different and unique and some of us may not enjoy the whole natural hair routine and that’s okay.

I take long breaks from my natural hair whenever I need to by braiding and doing crotches or just simple twist-outs with the hair itself. When life gets busy, and I feel that I’m not in the right space to deal with my hair every time I step out, I opt for a protective hair self.

Protective styles allow us to take valid breaks from our natural hair routines. Protective styles also protect our hair and allow for growth. One thing is that you need to continue moisturizing your hair even when wearing a protective style.

Final sentiments…transitioning from relaxed to natural hair

For instance, I didn’t do the big chop because I’m not comfortable cutting down all my hair or just having short hair. I chose to transition while slowly trimming my ends. Others choose to shave off their entire hair and begin from scratch. All the two methods work, and everybody is allowed to choose whichever method they are genuinely happy and comfortable with.

A 4C Natural Hair and Lifestyle Blogger who also doubles as a Techie. Founder of Mizizzi, a sister, a friend, and a daughter.