Going Natural Without Cutting Your Hair
Benefits of a Long-Term Transition From Relaxed to Natural Hair
You can go natural without cutting your hair if you want to. There are some advantages to choosing a long-term transition to natural hair including:
- It’s less drastic. You don’t have to change your look all of a sudden.
- You can maintain your hair’s length if you prefer to keep it that way or longer.
- You can take your time getting adjusted to the natural new growth and learning what products/styling methods work best for it.
What to Keep In Mind If You Choose to Transition Instead of Doing the “Big Chop”
If you grow out your relaxer slowly, you’ll have to take some special precautions to maintain two textures of hair on the same head. Mainly:
- Practice gentle detangling and styling to avoid breakage at the line of demarcation, the fragile point where your natural hair ends and your relaxed hair begins. The more tightly coiled or kinky your natural hair is, the more easily it can break where the two textures meet (if you’re not careful).
- Choose styles that blend the two different textures together well. Some examples are curly wet set styles and up-do’s.
- Be careful of excessive heat use to make your natural hair blend with your relaxed hair. Heat damage can permanently alter the curl pattern in your natural hair. When you finally cut off your relaxed ends, you may be left with natural hair that’s not as curly/coily as your newer natural hair. Even though right now you may be set on wearing your hair straight as a natural, you may fall in love with those coils later on and choose to sport them from time to time. If they’re damaged, you might regret the excessive heat use.
Tips for a Successful Long-Term Transition to Natural Hair
Going Natural Without Cutting Your Hair- Tip #1: Use Heat-Free or Low-Heat Straightening Methods
Choose heat-free or low-heat straightening methods if/when you decide to straighten your new growth. There are many ways to straighten your natural hair without heat but the healthiest methods all have one thing in common; they require you to straighten your hair while it’s wet and let it dry that way. Examples include wet sets with large rollers or simply slicking your hair flat into a ponytail and tying a silk scarf on top until it dries. Your hair will remain straight as long as it stays dry.
Going Natural Without Cutting Your Hair- Tip #2: Protect Hair From Direct Heat & Use Low Heat Settings
If you decide to straighten your hair with flat irons, use the lowest heat setting possible. Also, avoid using oil-based products until after you apply heat. Oil will intensify the temperature inside the hair when direct heat is applied. Instead, use water-based and/or silicone heat protectors. You can also use little to no product whatsoever before applying heat.
Note: Silicone/dimethicone (or any “cone”) products are not recommended for optimal hair health. “Cones” are difficult to remove from the hair without the use of more harsh shampoos such as those that contain sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) or ammonium laureth sulfate (ALS). SLS and especially ALS shampoos will remove product buildup from the hair but they also strip away the hair’s natural oils/sebum that protects it from dryness and ultimately from breakage. That leads us to tip #3…
Going Natural Without Cutting Your Hair- Tip #3: Cleanse Hair With Sulfate-Free Shampoo or Conditioner Alone
To promote length retention and grow your hair as fast and healthy as possible, it’s best to use gentle cleansing products to prevent dryness. Choose a sulfate-free shampoo, conditioning cleanser or simply wash with conditioner alone (called co-washing). You don’t actually have to use a shampoo much at all except as needed to prevent product buildup. However, if you use heat-protectant products for your hair such as those with silicone, you will need to use shampoo more often. You may possibly need one with harsh SLS or ALS detergents. If so, be very diligent about maintaining adequate moisture levels in your hair since Black hair (relaxed or natural) tends to require lots of moisture.
Going Natural Without Cutting Your Hair- Tip #4: Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize!
If you don’t adhere to any other tip on this page for going natural without cutting your hair, please remember this one! Your hair NEEDS moisture often. Exactly how often depends on your hair type, your hair health, how often you use direct heat and whether you use natural oils/butters or synthetic (that don’t actually moisturize but may make dryness worse). There are general guidelines for how often you should moisturize your hair, but ultimately you will have to learn to let your hair tell you when it’s time for moisture.
As a general guideline, you should cleanse your hair about once a week using conditioner only or a gentle sulfate-free shampoo. Water is the best moisturizer you can give your hair/skin/body period. So waiting too long between cleansing sessions may leave your hair dry. When you don’t wash Black hair often and you use products with synthetic oils (such as petroletum) that block moisture from entering your hair, then moisturizers cannot get inside your hair and instead sit on top. This is how infrequent cleansing and uninformed product choices cause dryness and breakage, making you think your hair won’t/can’t grow.