I transitioned for ten months before going fully natural in October 2014. It felt weird having to deal with two hair textures and I really wanted my strands to be as strong as possible before cutting off the relaxed ends (my aunt referred to my relaxed ends as “strings”.. lol). I’m glad my cousins and a few ladies in the natural hair community had given me pointers on what products to use when transitioning to natural hair.
I was in protective styles most of the time and I made sure I knew what products to use during the detangling process, when shampooing, conditioning, and styling. I’ve recommended my preferred products for each stage in this post.
What products to use when transitioning to natural hair
In the write up below, I’ve recommended the products to use when shampooing, as well as other products like regular conditioners, deep conditioners, protein treatments, hair masks, moisturizers, styling products, detanglers, and products to use when installing protective styles.
Shampoos are substances that are carefully formulated to clean our scalp and hair and remove dirt, air pollution, and product build-up.
The type of shampoo you buy is dependent on many things.
For instance, if your hair has suffered from any kind of damage before and its always dry, you might want to look for the best shampoo for dull lifeless hair.
If you live in an area with hard water that seems to affect your hair, then you should look for the best shampoo and conditioner for hard water.
On the other hand, there are people who are affected by soft water which leaves their hair flat and limp.
Such people are advised to go for the best shampoo for soft water areas.
When you are transitioning, you’re advised to use a shampoo that is gentle on both textures.
You’ll also want to use a shampoo that thoroughly cleanses the scalp to create a great environment for the healthy growth of new hair.
Always avoid cleansing your hair with harsh shampoos that contain ingredients such as sulfates and parabens.
The three cleansers reviewed below are highly recommended for transitioning hair.
Carol’s Daughter Monoi Repairing Sulfate-Free Shampoo
The Monoi repairing sulfate-free shampoo will work perfectly well for your hair if you are transitioning.
This product is formulated from Monoi oil – an ancient recipe that is made from Coprah coconut oil and the Tahitian Tiare Gardenia flower extract.
This shampoo enables you to easily detangle your hair and leaves your hair stronger and healthier.
It also helps to rejuvenate your hair and is perfect for even the most fragile hair.
Apart from being sulfate-free, this cleanser is also free from parabens, mineral oil and petroleum. It also doesn’t contain any artificial colors.
As I Am Cleansing Pudding Sulfate-Free Moisturizing Cleanser
This As I Am shampoo is also sulfate-free and lathers very well. It thoroughly cleanses your scalp and keeps it free from DHT build up.
The shampoo is made from natural ingredients that help your mane to grow healthy and strong – right from the roots to the ends.
It doesn’t just cleanse your hair, it also moisturizes it. By eliminating excess sebum and environmental impurities from the scalp, it provides a soothing and relaxing scalp treatment.
Most importantly, it creates a perfect environment for healthy hair growth by shedding scalp debris.
Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Restorative Shampoo
This gentle, sulfate-free shampoo helps to rejuvenate dry and damaged hair.
It’s easy for the relaxed part of your hair to have chemical damage through over-processing, but with the help of this moisturizing shampoo, your hair can be restored to its optimal healthy state.
This product will soften dry and damaged hair that tends to be hard to manage.
As the name suggests, this restorative shampoo is rich in shea butter.
It helps to moisturize your scalp and your mane, all in a bid to help repair any damaged hair strands.
Conditioners are key in softening your hair after the cleansing process.
Most shampoos in the market tend to strip the hair’s natural moisture during the cleansing stage and therefore have a strong drying effect.
When we are transitioning from chemically treated hair to natural hair, the last thing you want is to deal with hair dryness which eventually leads to breakage and makes the hair hard to manage.
Regular conditioners are moisturizing agents that help to replenish your hair strands’ natural moisture that is stripped during the cleansing process.
The two conditioners reviewed below are great at moisturizing transitioning hair, as well as hair that has been damaged by chemicals or heat styling appliances.
Carol’s Daughter Monoi Repairing Conditioner
During the transitioning process, your hair might get damaged, especially if the line of demarcation is very weak and you don’t have a good routine or good hair products when handling your hair.
If your hair is strong, then it will grow longer and enjoy optimal health.
(The line of demarcation is the point where your new natural hair growth meets the relaxed part of your hair.)
A good conditioner – such the Monoi repairing conditioner – will repair any damaged hair and return life back to your mane.
This repairing conditioner contains Pro-Vitamin B5, Monoi oil and replenishing bamboo water that helps repair weak and damaged hair.
It, therefore, protects your hair against breakage.
For best results, apply a generous amount of the conditioner on clean, wet hair. Massage it into your scalp and rinse off after 3-5 minutes.
Pantene Pro-V (Dry to Moisturized) Relaxed & Natural Conditioner
This is another conditioner that detangles and hydrates your hair.
It also prevents split ends are a perfect recipe for stunted hair growth.
After shampooing your hair, apply some of this conditioner and massage it into your scalp and hair.
It will soften and smoothen your hair in a matter of minutes as a result of its oil-enriched formula that helps to protect the hair strands.
Softer hair is easier to manage and also protects your hair (that has two textures) from breaking.
If you suffered from chemical damage before you started the transitioning process, using this conditioner can be a great choice since it’s made for both relaxed and natural hair.
This Pantene conditioner is also great for co-washing. It will thoroughly clean your hair and leave it tangle-free.
I always get this question from my friends and other natural hair enthusiasts: What is the difference between a deep conditioner and hair mask?
Well, the simplest answer I give is this: A deep conditioner deeply infuses moisture into the hair strands, thus helping to soften your hair and make it more manageable.
On the other hand, hair masks are all about hair strength. They help to strengthen your hair strands.
Therefore, deep conditioners improve the current condition of your hair, while a hair mask is used to treat a problem – which in this case is hair weakness.
Some brands use the terms “deep conditioner” and “hair mask” interchangeably, which can bring confusion to users.
I have low porosity hair which tends to get very dry. I therefore deep condition during every wash day for extra moisture.
Doing this makes it easier for me to detangle my hair and also provides more slip when handling my mane.
Because my hair is not really porous, I deep condition with heat (using a steamer), which helps to open and lift the cuticle layers so that the interior of hair strands are moisturized.
I’ve written about hair porosity in another post and how you can test your hair’s porosity.
The three deep conditioners reviewed below are great at ensuring your hair is deeply hydrated.
Jessicurl Llc. Deep Conditioning Treatment, Citrus Lavender Intense Pampering for Dry Hair
If you have dry hair like mine and you wish to pamper it, then this is the right product for you.
This deep conditioner with a citrus and lavender scent is acclaimed for how moisturizing it is.
It is a great choice if you are looking to restore back moisture to your transitioning hair.
The ingredients contained in the deep conditioner include shea butter and cocoa butter which adds moisture to dry and extremely “thirsty” hair strands.
Although it has a thick consistency, it does not build up.
Apart from making your hair soft and shiny, it also leaves your mane defined and frizz-free, especially during high humidity weather.
This product works when you apply it evenly on clean hair, put on a plastic cap and leave it for about 20 minutes.
You’ll then detangle your hair gently and rinse off the deep conditioner.
The product is suitable for all hair types.
As I Am Hydrating Elation Intensive Conditioner
This As I Am deep conditioner is used as a hydrating treatment for natural hair. It deeply moisturizes the hair and helps to immerse our curls in great emollients, leaving the hair soft and bouncy.
This product contains vitamin E, shea butter, extracts from sugar cane, coconut, green tea and apple which are all hair fortifiers.
It penetrates deep into your hair, hydrates it and leaves it smooth, shiny and manageable.
The deep conditioner is infused with pure herbal ingredients that help to stimulate the scalp and the hair roots.
In addition, the scalp stimulation helps to promote healthy hair growth from the follicular level.
For best results, use the deep conditioner every two to three weeks by evenly distributing it on clean hair and leaving for about 20 – 30 minutes, while wearing a plastic cap (to retain moisture).
Remember the pointer I gave above about deep conditioning with heat.
After you remove the plastic cap, carefully detangle the hair after adding a bit of water.
After making sure that all the hair is detangled, rinse off the deep conditioner thoroughly.
Genedor Beauty Moisture Resuscitate Deep Conditioning Treatment
This is another natural hair product that can revive every dry, dull, and brittle hair.
It’s rich consistently doesn’t make your hair feel oily or heavy.
It can be used both as a leave-in and deep conditioner.
It contains a special blend of honey, pequil oil, fruit oil, argan oil, and jojoba oil.
The ingredients all work together to make your hair retain moisture and also grow long and in a healthy environment.
The deep conditioning treatment provides great slip and leaves your hair feeling soft, silky and smooth.
For best results, you are advised to apply the deep conditioner, put on a plastic cap and leave it on 10-20 minutes while sitting under a steamer, a heated conditioning cap or a hooded dryer.
Remove the cap and finger-detangle, or use a wide-tooth comb to ensure that the hair is knot-free before rinsing off the conditioner.
It’s a 10 Haircare Miracle Hair Mask
This miracle hair mask is easy to use and is specially made to boost your hair’s softness and smoothness.
You can use it daily as a conditioner and also use it periodically as a deep conditioner.
The linseed contained in this product helps to sooth the scalp and leaves the hair soft and silky.
Another ingredient, sweet almond oil, helps to infuse hair with natural oils, minerals, and vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin B, thus promoting healthy hair growth.
Oat extracts, on the other hand, provide this mask with the capability to make hair silky, smooth and soft.
Carol’s Daughter Monoi Repairing Hair Mask
This mask is an intense repairing treatment that nourishes hair from the roots to the ends in a bid reverse damage from chemicals, heat, rough handling, bleach or color.
It’s infused with hydrolyzed silk and Monoi oil, and helps to prevent any future hair damage.
It works by deeply hydrating brittle hair, and strengthening the hair structure.
Bamboo water, which is said to be the strongest plant on the planet, is responsible for reinforce your hair’s structure.
By strengthening your hair, the mask helps your hair to grow long and healthy, and you get to style it as desired.
You use this mask by gently massaging it into clean, wet hair and scalp.
Take a little extra time on the ends and other areas that have experience breakage or dryness.
Rinse off the mask after leaving it in for about 5 to 7 minutes.
For optimal results, help the nourishing ingredients get deep into your hair by using heat.
Do this by putting on a shower cap and sit under a steamer, a heated conditioning cap or a hood dryer for 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing off the mask.
DevaCurl Deep Sea Strengthening Mask
This product is an airy foam that works very well for transitioning hair by strengthening the strands.
It is a blend of seaweed, sea lavender, and vegan proteins that helps to strengthen hair and improve elasticity.
The strengthening treatment results in reduces hair breakage.
The mask helps to rehydrate all curl types and also revive brittle hair as a result of heat damage, chemical damage, coloring, bleaching or through rough detangling procedures.
This product is cruelty-free, as well as free from parabens, sulfates, and silicones.
For best results, apply this mask on wet, freshly cleansed hair.
Rub the mask into your palms and distribute evenly on sectioned hair – from the mid-lengths to the ends.
Leave it on for 15-20 minutes.
For optimal results – just like with deep conditioner – use heat with a plastic cap covered by a towel.
Rinse off the mask.
Using this mask will leave your hair soft, shiny, manageable and bouncy.
In addition to the three hair masks reviewed above, the following protein treatments are recommended for transitioning hair, especially if your hair has chemical or heat damage, is breaking or has recently been colored.
Over 80% of our hair is made up of a protein known as keratin.
This explains why it’s important to keep replenishing protein to ensure that the hair structure remains strong, and avoided stunted hair growth.
Be careful, however, because frequent protein treatments can lead to protein overload, which can result in hair breakage.
Make sure you have a perfect protein-moisture balance to avoid losing hair unnecessarily.
Some people ask if virgin natural hair also needs protein treatments.
According to Byrdie, protein treatments come in various strengths, so people with virgin hair can stick to mild forms.
In our case, if you are transitioning to natural hair after years of having relaxers, you might need some intensive protein treatments to restore your hair back to optimal health.
Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair Deep Conditioning Mask
This mask is perfect for chemically treated, dry, lifeless and damaged hair.
If you are transitioning and your hair is screaming for help, this product will help you to restore moisture back to your tresses and protect your hair from future damage.
The natural ingredients contained in this product work together to enhance your hair’s resilience, thus renewing its health.
The vitamin B5 in the hair mask helps to repair hair breakages and split ends, while rosehip and sweet almond oil help to smooths the hair’s cuticle.
This mask should be used once a week, or after two weeks.
To use this product, apply evenly to freshly-washed hair leave it in for five to ten minutes before rinsing it off.
For a deeper treatment, put on a plastic cap and sit under a hood dryer for half an hour before rinsing the hair.
Nutress Hair One-Step Protein Treatment for Damaged Hair
This protein treatment can help save any hair that is in distress. It revitalizes, protects, strengthens, and also moisturizes your hair in one simple step.
The product contains proteins that synergize to repair the hair surface and restructure from within.
It also has a moisture complex that conditions, smooths and shines your mane.
It does all these while still enabling optimal protein and moisture retention.
The product will effectively repair any damage that relaxers, color, bleach or heat must have done to your hair.
It not only works on the hair, but it also conditions the scalp to create a conducive environment for new natural hair growth.
Regular use of this product helps to prevent dryness, thus reducing the chances of hair breakage.
For best results, massage the treatment into the hair and scalp.
Incorporate heat by sitting under a hood dryer, infra lamp, heat cap or hot towel for 5-10 minutes.
Finally, rinse thoroughly with warm water.
Aphogee Two-Step Treatment Protein for Damaged Hair
This protein treatment is popular throughout the US because it has been used in salons in strengthening clients’ hair over many years.
If you are transitioning and your hair has lost its curl pattern due to chemical over-processing, you might want to consider using this two-step treatment.
The manufacturer guarantees that hair breakage reduces for four to six weeks after using this treatment.
It contains activated proteins and magnesium that help to rebuild the hair structure by fusing into the hair with the application of heat.
The key to growing long and healthy natural hair is to keep it well hydrated at all times.
For your hair to be adequately moisturized, I advise people to follow the LOC and LCO methods of moisturizing natural hair.
These methods enable you to know how to layer products so as to achieve maximum hydration for long periods of time.
The “L” in LOC and LCO can be a liquid such as a leave-in conditioner or plain water.
Leave-in conditioners are very important products when it comes to moisturizing transitioning hair.
I’ve done a separate post looking at the best leave-in conditioner for transitioning hair.
The four products reviewed below have proved time and time again that they’re among the best when it comes to moisturizing transitioning hair.
Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Extra-Moisture Transitioning Milk
This product is designed to help restore moisture to dry and damaged hair.
It’s perfect for hair that has become overly porous as a result of chemical or heat damage.
This hair milk promotes healthy hair growth while transitioning from chemically-treated hair to natural hair.
The product has multi-purpose usage – it can be used as a leave-in conditioner, styling cream or a DIY deep conditioner.
It comes in handy when trying to detangle knots.
It makes transitioning hair soft and manageable and also helps to control frizz, especially in humid conditions.
The raw shea butter contained in this product smoothes the hair and restores its brilliant shine and stronghold.
This makes it perfect for daily use.
Its ingredients make the transitioning process quite a seamless process, and there are no worries about further damage, breakage or split ends.
The hair milk doesn’t weigh hair down and can be used beyond the transitioning phase.
For instance, it’s good for styling twist outs and braid outs.
Camille Rose Naturals Fresh Curl
Infused with avocado and castor oil, this product is recommended for people transitioning to natural hair because it revives dull curls and leaves them soft and shiny.
The fatty acids in the castor oil are instrumental in promoting new natural hair growth.
Avocado, on the other hand, is pivotal in infusing moisture into the hair strands.
This product can be used as a detangler, as well as a daily leave-in conditioner.
It nourishes and defines your curls, leaving them smooth, soft and tangle-free.
Apart from working great on the new natural hair growth and the chemically-treated hair, this Camille Rose product works perfectly on colored hair.
For best results, apply on either wet or dry hair before styling as desired.
Curls Blueberry Bliss Twist N Shout Cream
This cream is great for moisturizing transitioning hair. It has organic ingredients which include coconut oil, blueberry extract, safflower oil, and shea butter.
They all work by locking in moisture in the mane, ensuring maximum hydration.
The product also leaves your hair soft and manageable, something that people who are transitioning to natural hair find challenging to achieve.
The cream absorbs into your hair seamlessly, leaving it smooth, silky and shiny. It helps to eliminate frizz, without weighing down your hair.
This product is also used beyond the transitioning phase to achieve the perfect braid outs and twist outs.
It is free from sulfates, silicones, parabens, artificial oils, colors or fragrances.
Miss Jessie’s Transitioner’s Magic
This leave-in conditioner-cum-styler makes for the perfect transitioning moisturizer.
It moisturizes new natural hair growth and helps to rejuvenate the relaxed ends.
Apart from leaving your hair soft, shiny and manageable, it infuses your hair with much-needed moisture during the transitioning phase.
It helps in detangling around the line of demarcation, defining your curls, and eliminating frizz, all without weighing your hair down.
This is also a great styling product, especially when trying to achieve well-defined twist outs and braid outs.
For best results, apply the moisturizer into damp hair that’s in sections.
Apply it generously from the root to the ends.
Products to use when in protective styles
A lot of ladies who are transitioning are always in protective styles in a bid to grow out their hair faster.
There is a widely-held belief that hair grows out faster when you are in protective styles such as braids or cornrows.
Well, I personally don’t think that protective styles have anything to do with your hair growing out from the scalp faster.
I think the reason hair seams to “grow faster” when you are in protective styles is simply that there is no manipulation of hair during this time.
When we leave our hair alone it grows out as it should.
Constant combing, styling, and use of heat styling appliances when your hair is open can lead to hair breakage.
I’ve reviewed two products that are perfect for use during installation of protective styles such as braids or twists.
Shea Moisture Jojoba Oil and Ucuuba Butter Braid Up Conditioning Gel
This product is best used when getting your hair braided or twisted. It’s also great when doing cornrows.
The non-greasy gel helps to soften the hair when getting simple or complex protective styles done.
It contains jojoba oil that is quite hydrating, as well as Ucuuba butter which is very soothing.
The gel improves the workability of your hair and makes it supple so it doesn’t break.
This product isn’t flaky. Please ensure that you avoid regular usage of the gel after your hair is done so as to avoid flakes.
Another advantage of using this product is that it keeps frizz and flyaways at bay.
Additionally, it also gives your mane incredible body and volume and leaves it looking glossy.
The gel hasn’t been tested on animals and is free from petroleum, parabens, sulfates, mineral oil, phthalates, and propylene glycol.
For best results, apply this gel from roots to ends and then braid/twist.
Shea Moisture Jojoba Oil & Ucuuba Butter Track Tension & Itch Relief Serum
This particular product will help ease the tension and itch on your scalp when you’re in braids, weaves, cornrows, and extensions.
This non-greasy serum has a fast-absorbing formula that cools the scalp to relieve the discomfort (that I’m too familiar with) caused by tight braids and cornrows.
Sewn-in weaves are also known to cause tightness and itching of the scalp.
The serum leaves your scalp feeling comfortable and refreshed.
The jojoba oil contained in this product deeply hydrates to prevent breakage caused by swelling and shrinking as the hair gets wet.
The Ucuuba butter improves the manageability of the hair, while carrot seed oil hydrates the hair and scalp to promote the overall health of your hair.
Just like the gel reviewed above, this product is cruelty-free and is also free from petroleum, parabens, sulfates, mineral oil, phthalates, and propylene glycol.
For best results, use the dropper to apply a few drops to the affected areas and then massage gently into the surrounding track.
Detangling is an important step when taking care of transitioning or fully natural hair.
It’s especially important after you take down a protective style and want to make sure your hair is knot-free before the cleansing process.
Some people also detangle their hair after washing because, for some people, it can really tangle and form knots during cleansing.
One of the tricks of making sure you retain length is to make sure that your hair is always detangled to avoid unnecessary breakage.
This is the reason many ladies in the natural hair community (especially those with longer hair) wash their hair in sections to avoid tangling.
You can choose to finger detangle or use a wide-tooth comb.
Always make sure you have ample time to detangle your hair so that you don’t miss any hidden knots.
The two products reviewed below are very effective at detangling transitioning hair.
Sunny Isle Jamaican Black Castor Oil Knot Free Forever Leave-in Detangler
As the name suggests, this product is infused with Jamaican Black Castor Oil and helps you to reduce the amount of time you take detangling your hair.
Jamaican Black Castor Oil is made from grounded castor seed which is boiled to extract the natural oil that is brown in color and 100% organic.
The interesting thing about this detangler is that it can be used as a leave-in conditioner or as a regular rinse-out conditioner for knotted and tangled hair.
It works by moisturizing your locks and softening them, making it easy to detangle your hair.
As a great product for natural hair, it also solves the problem of stunted hair growth by stimulating hair growth.
With this product, a little goes a long way. It doesn’t weigh down your hair but instead leaves it looking healthy and glossy.
It’s also important to add that this detangler is free from sulfates and parabens.
It isn’t just a hair product, you can also use it to grow your eyelashes and get smoother skin!
Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Extra-Moisture Detangler
The Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Extra-Moisture Detangler is specifically made for damaged and transitioning hair and works very well when you are detangling your hair.
The detangler minimizes breakage when you are combing your hair by adding moisture to your hair strands thus helping to release knots and tangles from your mane.
It is made out of original and certified organic shea butter, as well as natural botanicals to help soften and condition your hair.
This product also helps to renew your transitioning hair that had been damaged by chemicals.
It is also effective in reducing single strand knots that form during the cleansing process.
It provides your hair with some volume, luster and makes it easier to style.
Transitioning from relaxed hair is the beginning of your natural hair journey.
Following a good regimen and using good products can give you a headstart by having strong, healthy hair by the time you decide to finally cut off the relaxed ends.
When you are trying to find out what products to use when transitioning to natural hair, it’s good to first understand the steps that should be included in your hair regimen, and the importance of each step.
These steps include detangling, cleansing, conditioning, moisturizing, deep conditioning and doing protein treatments.
A good place to start would be having one product for each of those steps and establishing the frequency that you’ll be using each of the products.