There are two steps you can take to start your natural hair journey – “transitioning” or “the big chop”. In the end, however,both will end with the same result – cutting off the permed hair. There is no such thing as washing out or stripping a perm – a perm is just as it’s name states – permanent. The natural texture of your hair is permanently changed unless you cut it off and start again.
Now the most dramatic way to start your natural hair journey is to do a “big chop”. Big chop meaning shave your head bald. Although this may sound drastic, it is the safest and easiest way to go natural because you don’t have to worry about dealing with two textures of hair, permed ends and natural new growth. You can camouflage your new ‘do by purchasing stylish wigs and even hats. Another bright side is you wouldn’t have to worry about buying styling products for a while; use that money on pretty scarfs or head ties or earrings to accessorize your new ‘do. You can also do a big chop after you grow an inch or two of new growth. Then you will be sporting a ‘TWA’ – Teenie – Weenie – Afro.
“Transitioning”, of course, is less dramatic. Transitioning is exactly what it sounds like; you are moving from one state- permed hair, to a new state – natural hair. As you are transitioning from the perm state to the natural state, you are allowing your hair to grow, new growth to come in without re-perming, i.e. no touch-ups. Now during this transition some still apply heat, curling iron and/or straightening comb to the new growth area to keep the textures looking the same, but this isn’t a good idea because the heat will have to be applied too often and will eventually damage the new growth, and you’ll end up having to do a ‘big chop’ as a result.
Unfortunately, there is really no other guaranteed way to keep the new growth and the permed hair looking the same while you are transitioning, so the best thing to do is to camouflage the new growth. This can be done by using a non-alcoholic gel, pomade, or even a little water and conditioner (depending on the texture of your hair) to smooth/brush down the new growth, then cover with a silk/satin scarf to set it in place, and this will have to be done every night or even in between outings.
Or, you can simply purchase scarfs and/or headbands to wear on top of the new growth to camouflage it. You can also opt to wear your two-textured hair in transition styles such as braids – extensions or using your own hair (not done too tightly) or curly wet sets, which will blend in the two textures nicely. One of my favorite transitioning styles was wearing cornrows or flat twists in the front of my head (braiding/twisting the new growth area) and the rest of my hair (permed portion) out either straight or curly in the back.
The one thing you have to be extremely careful of when transitioning is dealing with the two different textures of hair. New growth is very fragile and can not be handled the same way as the permed texture. You may even have to use different styling products to deal with the two textures of hair.
The best thing to do is to focus entirely on your new growth.
You will have to experiment with different (preferably natural hair products) on your new growth as it gets longer and use these products on your permed ends as well.
The other thing you must do is as your new growth comes in, start cutting off your permed ends. I recommend when you have at least an inch of new growth, cut off an inch of your permed ends, and keep doing this until you have a head full of natural hair. The average hair growth rate is about a half an inch a month, but depending on your health/diet and heredity this can vary. So therefore, I can not give an exact range of time when you will have a complete full head of natural hair. But for more information on the rate of hair growth check out www.pg.com/science/haircare/hair_twh_21.htm.