Transitioning Hair Stages: From Relaxed to Natural

Transitioning to natural hair is a journey. If you’re not going to go for the big chop, living with two different hair textures may feel maddening. You have to dedicate yourself to a transitioning hair routine, and even then, it can feel like it’s taking forever. Frustration, self-consciousness, and resetting expectations are part of a lot of natural hair journeys. When the bad vibes hit, it’s good to take a step back and remember how long you’ve been straightening. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your hair doesn’t go from straight to natural waves, curls or coils overnight.

man with brown curly hair

The Natural Hair Transition Timeline

Take a look at transitioning hair stages so you know what to expect as you set out on your path to a newer, curlier you! Different waves, curl and coil textures will be in different places on the timeline: where some might be fully recovered, others may still be struggling with new growth. Never fear! The way has been paved by other curly pioneers, so there are plenty of tips for bringing your hair's natural texture to its full glory.


3 months transitioning to natural hair

At this point, you should have one to two inches of new growth. Your hair finally feels like it’s getting somewhere! But don’t relax your care routine. The line of demarcation, where your new growth meets your relaxed hair, is particularly fragile. Adding a balanced routine of protein and moisture will help prevent breakage.

Up to three months is probably going to be your first high point of the transition. You’re likely still excited and not yet frustrated with the process. It’s also a time where high expectations are still intact. Put effort into caring for what you do have and getting ready for a long process.

Care routine: Try our CURLBOND™ Re-Coiling Treatment Mask or our richest conditioner One Condition Decadence. Sleep with a satin or silk scarf, bonnet, or pillowcase, and clear out the products and tools you used to straighten your waves, curls or coils. Make sure to keep your ends trimmed for overall hair health.


6 months transitioning to natural hair

You’re likely hitting around three inches of new growth, with the relaxed and natural hair having wildly different textures. This is normal! Now is the time to start trying to type your curls, when they’ve had time to settle into their pattern a bit. Keep in mind that this may not end up being your final texture, but take our curl quiz to identify your current curl type and get tailored product recommendations.

This is when the frustration can start setting in. If you find yourself thinking, “Why did I decide to do this?” take a look at your healthy growth and try to imagine when all of your waves, curls or coils look that way. The old styles you’re used to wearing may not work like they used to, so try out some new ones! Your hair should be strong enough at this point to support extensions, so if you really want curls for days or a longer style, look into supplementing your growth for a boost in confidence.

Care routine: Trim off at least one to two inches of your relaxed hair and consider trimming it all away, if your relaxed ends are shorter than your new growth. Keep up the masks and deep conditioning treatments to keep your new hair healthy looking. Find styles for blended textures and protective styles, and make sure you’re detangling your hair gently with your fingers to protect the line of demarcation. Our Wash Day Wonder Wonder® is perfect for this delicate stage.


8 months transitioning to natural hair

Somewhere between three and four inches of natural growth, your hair is starting to get closer to fully natural! Now you can start to understand what your permanent texture is likely to be and you can look into or revisit the typing system, if you wish. Different sections of your hair may have different textures, so a one-size-fits-all care plan may not actually fit. Consult a stylist on what your hair needs. Our stylist finder can help you locate a Deva-trained stylist in your area.

As far as transitioning hair stages go, eight to ten months is probably the most awkward. If you’re dedicated to keeping your length, you’ll need to put a lot into pampering your curls and your relaxed hair to keep it healthy looking. However, the longer you go, the more likely breakage will happen. This may be a point to consider cutting off the rest of your relaxed hair, if it makes you happy.

Care routine: Wash your hair in sections to prevent re-tangling and to give your hair the gentle care it needs. Make sure to use shampoos made without SLS/SLES sulfates, like one of our No-Poo cleansers, for gentle cleansing. Keep up with your previous care and settle on a daily routine for transitioning your hair that works for you.


10 months transitioning to natural hair and beyond

Whether you have over four inches of growth at this point, or still feel like you’re creeping along at closer to three, you’re approaching your dream hair! With the texture likely to be firmly settled in, you can really plan what you need to care for your hair. It’s a great time to do a deep dive on hair product ingredients and educate yourself on what curly hair textures need. Beyond silicones, SLS/SLES sulfates, and parabens, you can learn more about the effects of different ingredients on your hair, what works, and what doesn’t.

This is where you start to get an upswing in confidence. The closer you get to a year, the more attainable your goal seems and the more it feels like this is something you can do: because it is! You’ve got your natural hair texture, whether you’ve decided to fully trim your ends, or are still caring for your relaxed hair.

Care routine: Moisturizing continues to be your best friend. Start at the scalp (aka, the root of hair care) with SCALP D(pH)ENSE™ — Trichologist co-developed and formulated with a pH level for a healthy scalp, this non-oily, nourishing serum with the Scalp Re-Balancing Complex moisturizes dry scalp. 

Melt Into Moisture and the cleansers and conditioners in our One Condition line are perfect for keeping your hair ready to support new growth. We also have plenty of non-damaging styling products, like our Defining Gels or SuperCream. Play around with your new texture or natural waves, curls or coils and start doing what you really want to do with them!