Making the decision to go natural — whether you have a relaxer or you're growing out heat damage — is liberating. However, the process to getting there can be rough.
Transitioning is something that takes time, lots of energy, and most importantly, patience. 'Cause let's be honest here, there's no magic oil or cream you can use to make your hair grow out faster, and trying to work with two distinct textures all at once isn't easy — especially if you have kinky 4B or 4C coils.
That's why we reached out to expert hairstylist Cheryl Bergamy to find out which styles work best for transitioners, what products you need to keep handy, and the hair tools and accessories to go for, so you can give both your hair and yourself a break.
All of her best tips, ahead.
What Are the Best Hairstyles for Transitioners?
Blending two textures together can feel like trying to mix oil and water. Thankfully, there are several ways to manipulate your hair to make it look like one cohesive style.
Braided or Twisted Styles
Whether you're using your own natural hair, or adding in a few packs of pre-stretched hair, braids and twists are always a good option. Plus, depending on the style you go with and the length of time you wear it, you can rock a braid-out or twist-out once you take them out.
"From goddess braids to box braids, braided styles can be amazing to do on your hair when you're going to the transitioning from relaxer to natural," the stylist shares. "Twist-outs are a fun, free, easy way to enjoy the transition from relaxed to natural. This style shows off a beautiful coily-curly look."
However, she does add in some tips for long-term styles. "Remember to moisturize the scalp at least twice a week and only leave in between four to eight weeks depending on hair growth," she says.
Roller sets are great for manipulating both textures to take on a similar form.
"[Whether you use] straw sets, flexible rollers, or foam roller, you can achieve great curls," she shares. "To keep hair soft and your curls long lasting, use a leave-in conditioner before setting the hair, to maintain the style and keep hair hydrated as well as the scalp."
If you're noticing that your roller set or braid-out is starting to look stale, throw it into an updo to give it new life. If you're going to keep it in for more than a day, Bergamy recommends wrapping a silk scarf around the base of the hair to keep it smooth.
"These are the perfect protective style," says Bergamy. "[They] give the hair a rest while protecting the ends from any breakage." And if you need a little inspiration, just take a nod from Ciara.
VIDEO: 4 Natural Hair Growth Tips From Childhood That You Should Be Using Now
What Products Will I Need to Keep Handy As I Transition?
While trying to maintain your two textures, you'll need to focus on keeping the hair moisturized. That's why Bergamy highly recommends always using a leave-in conditioner.
She's a fan of the Style & Go Leave-In Conditioner from her own haircare line Contents. "This leave-in conditioner is packed with rich moisture sealing ingredients such as moringa, green tea, sunflower oil, and shea butter," she says. "It's also vegan and cruelty-free."
We're also fans of Miss Jessie's Leave-in Condish as well as TGIN's Green Tea Super Moist.
You'll also want to make sure to use a good deep conditioner and oil. 4C Only's Too Thicke Deep Conditioner is a God-send, while OGX's Extra Penetrating Argan Oil works to lock in hydration and add shine.
When it comes to styling, Bergamy is a fan of Hick's Edges Pomade.
Any Hair Accessories I Should Keep in Mind Or Avoid?
Hair accessories can be your best friend as you transition. Slip's Small Slipsilk Scrunchies can help to safely tuck away brittle ends when doing updos, buns, or ponytails, while headbands can help to conceal new growth.
How Will I Know When to Finally Big Chop?
That's totally up to you!
"Some go ahead and do the big chop [right away] and do TWA styles," says Bergamy. "Others are used to having more length, so they will gradually cut as the hair grows in, doing transitional styles during the process."
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