September 23, 2023
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Last Updated on October 23, 2023 by Verna Meachum
Seeing how many people accept and embrace their natural curls after decades of straightening to fit into society and media beauty standards is refreshing. Those with treated hair and relaxers now hold the question, how do I transition from straightened hair back to natural curls?
Transitioning from straightened hair to natural curls can be done with patience, regular trims, scalp and strand care and conditioning, clarification and chelation, and avoiding further chemical treatments, hair coloring, and heating tools. The hair will require repair and healthy new growth.
Let’s focus on understanding how the process of transitioning from straightened hair to natural curls is possible, how to achieve it, and why you should avoid doing it in the future.
There are a couple of reasons why people will want to stop straightening and embrace curly hair, which we discuss a little later in the post.
But there are several things you can do to help transition your hair from straightened and possibly damaged to gain back your natural curls.
Here are some helpful tips to achieve that:
It only makes sense to start something this significant and possibly challenging by getting educated. If you don’t understand curly hair, how it functions, what products it requires, and what the best routines for curly hair are, you are likely setting yourself up for failure.
My blog has everything you need to know and more – including some scientific information – on curly hair. You can start with this comprehensive guide to embracing natural curls. I can also help you with the curly hair dictionary and an in-depth guide to growing natural hair.
Additionally, I have experienced the transition from chemically straightened, damaged hair to natural curls. You can learn more about my experience in my blog post, “A Brief Look Into My Healthy Hair Journey.”
When transitioning from straightened to naturally curly hair, the best way to understand how to care for your curls is to understand your curly hair type. Try to remember or look back at old pictures of your curly hair to determine your type.
It may be different or mixed textures once you finally restore your hair to its natural state. However, following a routine according to your type will ensure the best health for your strands and provide faster results to seeing those bouncy curls again.
Patience is key. Accept that the process will take time, and your hair might go through phases of looking and feeling worse at times. This is the natural progression of the process. You can slow the journey down if you get impatient and switch products or routines too fast or too often.
You may not want to cut your length, but regular trims can help your hair transition. The ends of your hair hold the most damage and lingering straightening treatment.
As new, healthy, natural hair grows from the scalp, cutting off stagnant ends can help you see progress faster.
Product build-up can weigh down the hair and prevent curls from forming properly. By using a clarifying shampoo, you’re ensuring that your hair is free from any residue that might inhibit its natural curl pattern.
This should not be done too often, but using them once every three to four weeks can speed up getting rid of straightening treatments and restore hair health.
Both clarifying and chelating shampoos assist in the transitioning process by ensuring the hair is clean, free from build-up, and in its optimal state to embrace its natural curl pattern.
Deep conditioning treatments play a pivotal role in restoring damaged hair. They penetrate the hair shaft, replenishing lost moisture and nutrients, which in turn strengthens the hair and improves its elasticity.
Damaged hair, often characterized by high porosity, has a lifted cuticle that lets moisture escape easily. This damage can be exacerbated by frequent chemical treatments, UV radiation, and heat styling, which further weaken the hair cuticle and expose the hair’s inner structure.
High porosity hair requires specific ingredients such as proteins, conditioning agents, and emollients. These ingredients help to fill the gaps in the cuticle, seal in moisture, and protect the hair from further damage, ensuring a healthier and more resilient mane.
Avoid using additional chemicals and dyes during your transition. They can impede your progress, harm your natural curl texture, and further weaken your hair.
It’s crucial to steer clear of these treatments when moving from straightened, damaged hair to natural curls to preserve and restore the hair’s innate curl pattern.
Once you have fully regained your natural curls and your hair is healthy, you can consider coloring it again.
However, it’s crucial to seek the guidance of a professional curly hair stylist/colorist to ensure the best results and maintain hair health.
Through any transition process, shedding is normal. The same goes for your hair. As you work on removing straighter and relaxers from your hair and growing new, healthy curls, your damaged and treated hair will shed. Allow this to happen as you provide your hair with quality care.
Your scalp is the most important part of hair transitioning. Straighteners and relaxers can damage the follicles and roots. Ensuring scalp care can repair the damage, which allows your new growth to be healthy and strong. Scalp care can also include clarification and chelation.
Heat styling, particularly during the transitioning phase, can harm curly hair by depleting its natural moisture, resulting in dryness and breakage.
Regular use of heat can also compromise the hair’s protein integrity, making it challenging for curls to return to their natural state.
During your transitioning journey, you’ll discover the benefits of using a diffuser. Though it’s the gentlest heat styling method for your curls, it’s still best to stick to low to medium heat settings.
For decades, people with curly hair, particularly women, were made to believe that curly hair is wrong and only straight hair is beautiful. The pressure to fit in, be liked, and be seen as beautiful according to the standards of society and media was high. Many curlies caved into that narrative.
Over recent years, especially with social media taking over the world and people opening up and speaking their truths as many social issues are being addressed, the standards of beauty have been in the front line of those conversations. Curlies are now embracing and indulging in their natural curls.
This means more and more curlies are noticing the change and gaining confidence to get rid of the daunting task of applying straighteners and relaxers and spending unnecessary large amounts of money at the salon. But doing that also comes with learning how to manage natural curls.
The biggest question that most people consider is whether the transition from straightened hair to natural curls is even possible. From the tips above, you know that it is with dedication, patience, and effort. But if you work at it and stick to a routine, you will see results sooner than later.
The best part about this transition is that you get to restore your hair’s health and enjoy your natural beauty while empowering other curlies to also embrace their hair types, textures, and heritages through one of their best and most beautiful accessories – naturally curly hair.
Other than embracing your natural hair, you may want to transition from straightened hair to your natural curls to get rid of and repair damage. Using straighteners and relaxers can take a toll on your hair’s health over time.
Before you know it, your hair is dry, brittle, burnt from chemical damage, and is suffering unbearable hair loss. Many people end up cutting most of their hair off to eliminate the damage. And sometimes your hair is never the same again.
That is why focusing and working on the transition from straightened to naturally curly hair is a good idea and essential if you want to ensure healthy hair for years to come.
It may seem impossible, but you can transition from straightened hair to natural curls. With time, resilience, and proper care, your hair will return to its naturally curly state, and you can enjoy those healthy, bouncy, and luscious locks again.
I had to listen to what my hair needed...my curls are finally ready to take in some moisture again!!!
- renee, Stylist Liaison
“I truly couldn't have gotten through this without her knowledge, advice and support...after suffering from Hygral Fatigue and getting tons of advice @themestizamuse.”
“@themestizamuse: for ESSENTIAL information you will NEED TO KNOW in order to see results.”
See how easy the topics are to find on her page (a few posts screenshot)? There is no topic Verna hasn't covered.
- dominique P, wavy hair enthusiast
“I have learned a whole heap of knowledge from @themestizamuse.”
Inspiring hair tutor, grateful for what she offers the Curly Community in authenticity, passion, and knowledge.
- zoe F, Producer & Host of The Curl Squad
“I was so excited to embrace my curls and take better care of them. As I started to dive in, I immediately became overwhelmed with the information.”
I read books and tried doing things because "that's what I'm supposed to do," but it didn't always work and I didn't understand why. I'm so grateful for Verna and her blog. Her info. actually helped me understand more of the science of why some methods helped and what products or ingredients to use and why. Anyone that compliments my hair and wants to start a curly journey, I tell them to start here. My hair is so much healthier and I'm so happy with it.
- stephanie, Curly hair enthusiast
One day you will wake up and there won't be any more time to do the things you've always wanted.
Do it now.
- Paulo coelho