Natural Hair Transitioning Styles

As a former long-term transitioner I understand the frustration of those still making their way through.  Here are some style tips to make the transition run smoother.

The Braid-Out: This was my go-to style for transitioning.  To do this style I sprayed my hair with settting lotion and plaited my hair into 10-12 braids making sure to braid them in the direction you want to go.  If you need help keeping the relaxed hair from unraveling, use mouse, gel or hairspray.  You can also use rubberbands, clips or barrettes to hold the ends.  I also like to use perm rods or rollers at the ends.  This will give you a braid-n-curl as shown in the picture.  You can also do the same with twists.  I did not do many twist-out styles while transitioning because my hair would unravel and I found that the braids held better.

Two-Strand Flat Twists: While I never did this style while transitioning it is another great choice.  These are perfect for those who do not have the tactile ability to actually cornrow hair.  You can use the same process as the braid-out above.  But if you are blessed to be able to cornrow your own hair or have a friend who can that is also a great option.


Straight.  During the first several months of my transition I continued to wear my hair straight because it was the easiest thing for me to do.  After washing and conditioning my hair I would blowdry straight and follow with a flatiron.  The focus was not on achieving super straight hair, but simply trying to match the textures.  I would wrap my hair at night in a satin scarf to maintain.

The Wet Look: This was a very easy style.  I would simply wet my hair in the shower and sometimes co-wash.  Then I would just leave a little conditioner in it.  If you have super straight ends and want more of a wavy look then plait your hair into 6 large braids and allow to dry.  You can also add some gel to coax out the texture. To minimize the puffiness of my roots I wore a flexi-comb headband as seen here. 

These are just a few styling options while transitioning.  What have you tried?

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Straightening Natural Hair at Home

**This posts details how I straightened my hair and is from December 2010** 

I did not take a before picture as I decided to straighten on a whim however I do have a picture of a wash-n-go done the week before.  It is important to note that I had my fro shaped on the day I decided to straighten it so it was actually shorter then shown in this “before” pic. 

1.  Start with cleansed and conditioned hair.  Apply a leave-in conditioner to retain moisture and allow hair to air dry.

2.  Separate hair into six sections. Spritz the end of the first section with water and finger-comb.  Add a small dollop of Koils by Nature Sweet Almond Joy Nourishing Hair and Body Butter to the length of the hair and combed through using a Denman brush.  Next, using the Denman and my blowdryer with the concentrator nozzle I stretched the hair.  Each section took very little time as it was already dry I was simply stretching it.  Repeat on the remaining 5 sections.

3.  Set flatiron on 350 degrees.  Beginning at the nape of the neck, separate hair into 1-inch sections.  Using the comb and chase method make one pass with the flatiron.  In this method run a fine tooth comb down the section of hair and chase it with the flatiron.  This method keeps the hair from simply being smooshed because the comb detangles the curls allowing them to run smooth between the plates of the flat-iron.  On the second pass I turn my wrist under to give a slight curl and add body.

This method will yield straight results that still preserve your curl pattern.  If you want this style to last use a product that contains silicone to create a coat the strands and lock-out moisture.  You can also stretch your hair by twisting/braiding/bunning while wet and allowing it to air dry or use a hooded dryer.  I like to stretch my hair before straightening as it cuts down on the amount of direct heat applied to the hair.  Is shea butter going to burn your hair? No.  Shea Butter has a heat protection factor (thermal conductivity rating) similar to that of Dimethicone and Cyclomethicone which are the most common silicone heat protectants used.

Un-Natural Hair Obsessions

A natural hair journey can be filled with excitement and intrigue but it is not without its downside.  Damage, breakage and other set-backs can yield some strange obsessions on our pursuit of healthy hair.

I have heard of women taking so much Biotin to get their hair to grow that it caused the “biotin beard” horrible facial breakout of pimples/zits. Check out this story from Lola’s Green Hair.

Or those who used Mane Tail Groom, a product designed for horses in an effort to strengthen their hair.  See this post from Quest for the Perfect Curl.

Then there are those who “hibernate” their hair under protective style for months for fear that if their ends are “out ” it can cause hair suicide. Follow Tola’s 6 month protective style journey here.

As for me, I am terrified of heat damage.  Because of this fear I only straighten my hair twice a year and I will only allow 1 heating element to be used in the process; either a flat iron or a blow dryer but not both.  The irony in this is that for the first 6 months of my transition I straightened my hair regularly and saw no ill effects. 

Yes, this quest for longer, stronger, healthier hair can cause us to do some crazy things.  What un-natural hair obsessions do you suffer from?

How to Blow Out Your Natural Hair

By request, below is my old routine for doing a blow-out on natural hair.  I only straighten my hair a couple times, but you can do it as often as you like.  I use a blow-out regimen that involves stretching and air drying the hair which allows for less potential of heat damage due to using minimal amount of heat.

1. Wash, condition, detangle and deep condition hair.

2. Apply silicone based heat protectant, I have no real favorites any brand will do.  Silicone coats the hair protecting it from heat styling and humidity in the air.  If you are CG or wanting to use natural products then use grapeseed oil which has a very high smoke point so it is safer than other oils such as olive or coconut.  You can also use a shea butter mix as a protectant.

3. Braid hair into 6-8 plaits and allow to air dry.  This will stretch the hair.

4. When hair is about 75 -80% dry, take down each plait one at a time and blowdry each section in the DOWNWARD direction.  You should blowdry using either a comb attachment or using a denman/paddle/round brush to provide tension.  You can use a concentrator nozzle to help make even quicker work of it just be sure to keep the dryer moving and do not leave in one place for more than a few seconds.

It is the TENSION, NOT THE HEAT that elongates the curl pattern.  Because the hair is mostly dry you should be able to blowdry on low to medium heat and still yield straight results in no time.  If you choose to use high heat do so sparingly as not to fry your hair.  Before finishing each section be sure to use the “cool” button to go over the area.

This blowdrying method alone does not yield bone-straight results, but it works for me. If you are going for a bone straight look you can follow with a flat iron.  Remember that when using silicone product you will need to use a sulfate shampoo to properly cleanse your hair.

It takes some practice to get the technique down but you can do it! Else you can go to a salon and have it done relatively inexpensively. For an even better deal, visit your local hair school.