What to do if you’ve been chemically straightening your hair for years and want to go natural

But for those who have been chemically straightening for years, it’s not as simple as clicking your fingers and going back to basics. Transitioning takes time and care, especially if you want your hair to be happy and healthy.

The natural hair movement has got us all embracing our natural God-given textures – whether yours be frizz, coily curls, dead straight or a big, bouncy afro.

So to help you give up the keratin and bring back your curls, we’ve enlisted the help of Winnie Awa, founder of Antidote Street (the digital market place for afro and multi-textured hair) to teach us everything she knows about transitioning…

How long does chemical straightening typically take to wear off?

When chemically straightening or relaxing the hair, a touch-up is usually required every 6-8 weeks, and a “relaxer is applied to the new growth of hair so as to straighten it.”

“When you stop applying relaxer to your hair, it essentially means that you are allowing your new curly growth to overtake your old ‘straight’ hair”, says Winnie.

This means that it can actually take anywhere from 6-8 months for the freshly grown curly hair to completely catch up and overtake the old straightened hair.

Tips for managing your hair while transitioning

As you can imagine, having two different textures (curly and straight) can make it extremely difficult to style.

“To manage this duality in textures, many opt to ‘put their hair away’ in simple braided styles or a wig”, says Winnie.

“Others simply opt for a ‘TWA’ which means cutting off all the relaxed ends and rocking a ‘teeny weeny afro’. I did this when I transitioned and it was so much fun and freeing!”

How to restore damage from chemical straightening

Intensive moisturising and protein treatments are the ultimate antidotes for damage caused by chemical straightening.

“Alternating these treatments are vital as the deep conditioning treatments infuse the hair with much-needed moisture, whilst the protein treatments fill any gaps in the hair follicle, restoring elasticity”, says Winnie.

Winnie’s top 3 product recommendations:

The L.O.C routine

When transitioning, your new growth appears in its original, natural state which could take on coily or curly textured forms.

“What we advocate for is adopting a simple yet healthy hair routine that allows you to get to know your new hair whilst caring for it”, says Winnie.

The solution? A three-step routine called the ‘L.O.C’. “The L.O.C. method means layering a leave-in, then oil and cream to lock in moisture into the hair.”

Winnie recommends washing the hair once a week, deep conditioning and using the L.O.C method to kickstart your journey to natural texture.
“Leave any preconceived notions of what you expect your hair to look like in its natural state and just enjoy the experience.”

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