In this article I’ve described how my hair recovered from years of chemical straightening and began to grow healthy and soft again.
I’m pretty sure that if you are someone who has clicked on this article, then you most probably are one of the many who have chemically straightened their naturally curly hair for a long time now.
And if you’ve finally decided you want your natural curls back and are currently lost in the transitioning stage where your hair is half straight and half curly!
Well, it is totally understandable how horrible it may feel to be in that in-between phase, neither here nor there, but what can you do about it?
Related: Best Alternatives To Hair Relaxers
Is there a way out? Let me give you the most cliché answer out there – yes, there is a way out of everything!
This article will let you in on some of the best and most important hair recovery tips perfectly meant for those of you who are in the chemically straightened to curly hair transitioning stage.
What exactly is chemical hair straightening?
Before getting into the details, let us get down to the basics. Most often we get into treatments before knowing fully what exactly it will do to our hair, not just the initial and final outcome, but the effects of hair treatments in the long run.
Chemical hair straightening is a permanent hair straightening treatment that uses chemicals like sodium hydroxide and ammonium thioglycolate to break the internal hair bonds (also known as disulphide bonds) permanently.
This chemical process will permanently change the internal hair anatomy that otherwise holds your hair in a certain structure and texture (so here, it will change the hair structure from curly to straight).
While this process is definitely a great invention for those who have curly and kinky hair and want to switch up their look for a while, this permanent straightening can last anywhere between four to six months.
This is until your hair begins to grow out, of course varying from person to person and it can be a treatment that can cause drastic damage to your hair over time.
These side-effects can include excessive hair fall (if you are one of those unlucky ones), hair dryness, scalp itchiness, hair breakage, split ends and in some cases even permanent damage to your hair’s original texture.
How My Hair Recovered From Years of Chemical Straightening
1. I stay away from hair dyes or any other hair treatments
Most often those of us who have had our naturally curly hair straightened, tend to find the hair at the roots curling up as it grows out, while the rest of our hair is straight.
Well, if you have decided that your hair has had its fair share of chemical and heat damage and it is time to nurse it back to life, then stay away from getting root touch ups.
Yes, as tempting it may seem (because you may find your hair looking odd with the two textures), you need to stay firm on your decision to push through the hair transition which may take some months or until your natural hair has fully grown back to good enough length, so you can chop off the straight ends.
Also, stay away from trying out other chemical treatments for your hair like bleaching and hair dyeing, as these treatments too are super damaging to the hair and during this transitioning phase your hair cannot afford to go through anymore damage.
2. I regularly get a haircut or hair trim
If you were strong enough to get through the major part of the transitioning phase and your hair has grown out to a reasonable length, where you feel it is long enough to get yourself a good cut, then maybe you could get yourself a haircut.
I suggest you completely chop off the straight ends, leaving only your natural curls to show, thus getting you into the very first stage of post-transition.
If you are someone who doesn’t like to see your locs being chopped off at one go, then you can go in for frequent hair trims.
This will help in slowly getting rid of the straight ends by trimming it off in stages (as your naturally curly hair continues to grow out), until all the straight parts have been trimmed off.
3. I avoid using heat tools for hair styling
When I spoke about heat treatments previously, most often we think of permanent heat treatments.
Well, let me break it to you guys, not just permanent heat treatments, but also use of hair styling tools like straightening irons, curling wands and blow dryers have to be avoided.
This is because your already chemically straightened hair has become weak, dry and brittle over time.
If you use any external sources of heat during the transition period, it will not just ruin the recovery process of your hair, but can also make your hair succumb to breakage and hair loss because your hair strands are already weak and can snap with even the slightest pressure.
In unavoidable circumstances when and if you wish to use any heat styling tool during your transitioning period, then use a good quality heat protectant spray on your hair before starting the heat styling process.
4. I avoid frequent shampooing, but do not skip the conditioner
It is essential to remember that since chemically straightened hair craves hydration and moisture (even though it may look smooth and silky).
And therefore while it is important to keep our hair and scalp clean and dirt-free, it is also important to help it retain sufficient moisture.
Therefore, if you choose to wash your hair too often, then the shampoo will strip the hair off all its natural oils and moisture.
So this means that your hair transitioning process, even though you may get rid of the straight hair, your curls will still end up looking lifeless, dry and limp.
Do not wash your hair too often, maybe just wash it two to three times in a week, but never skip the conditioner!
Yes, make sure to condition after every hair wash because the conditioner will help lock in the required amount of moisture to hydrate your hair.
You could also try the technique of co-washing your hair, using leave-in conditioners from time to time and maybe even use a dry shampoo now and then to help your hair go longer without it being washed.
5. I deep condition on a regular basis
Hair straightening is a chemical process that uses chemicals to break the natural bonds in the hair strand then uses extreme heat to permanently restructure the hair strand from its original texture.
So this means that your hair can succumb to severe hair damage due to the use of chemicals in addition to heat.
It can lead to hair damage like breakage and split ends along with making the hair dry.
Therefore, it is imperative that for the hair to get rehabilitated, you should use the technique of deep conditioning at least once every week to help go through the hair transitioning phase from straight to naturally curly.
Deep conditioning involves leaving on a hair conditioning mask for a span of 20 to 30 minutes, to let the hair get sufficiently hydrated by letting the moisture penetrate deep into the hair shafts.
During this time, the hair absorbs the external moisture and nutrients of the hair mask and slowly will get rejuvenated over time.
6. I wear protective hairstyles
If you are someone who dislikes seeing the half-straight, half-curly hair on your hair or feel awkward to go out in public with this kind of hair even though so many people go through this transition phase and it’s no big deal.
Then maybe you can choose to wear protective hairstyles like braids or buns that will help conceal your multi-textured hair well enough.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about transitioning to curly hair from chemically straightened hair
1. Does co-washing help in recovering chemicially straightened hair?
Co-washing simply means “conditioner washing”. Yes, all you need to do is skip the shampooing stage in your hair washing process and simply conditioner wash your hair at first, rinse off and then condition your hair like you normally would during a regular hair wash.
This process helps rejuvenate the hair, but cannot be used very often as it can weigh down the hair if overdone. So maybe using this co-washing technique once every week can do you good.
2. Should I perm the straight hair ends till my curly hair grows back to a length I desire?
Well, this is a big no! If you decided to chemically straighten your hair in the first place, then you should also be ready to face the consequences of the transitioning process. So let’s put it this way – go through it gracefully.
Either you go in for a big chop and keep your hair short for a while till your curls grow back or trim your straight ends hair once your curly hair begins to grow out, but strictly do not go in for perming of the hair.
Perming too is another chemical treatment that will also involve chemically altering the hair’s natural texture and will only delay your transitioning process further.
The final takeaway
As I close out this article, here’s something all those of you who are going through this chemically straight to naturally curly hair transition need to hear – patience is the key.
This is because honestly, if you want to regain your natural curls, then you do not really have a choice right?
So just be patient, embrace the process and most importantly trust the process and it will work. It may take time because your hair needs to completely grow back, so anything between four to six months is normal.
Just follow the right recovery hair care procedures and wait for your lovely curls to come back!