Hair Q&A: Transitioning To Natural Hair Without Cutting It All Off

January 30, 2012  |  

In our new Hair Q&A series with hair experts, we connect Madame Noire readers with various experts and stylists to answer their most pressing questions about hair care. In this edition, Toni Love responds to a reader-submitted question about transitioning to natural hair without having to cut off most of her hair. If you have a hair care issue you’d like to have addressed, Facebook us or email us at 

Disclaimer: the one question is broken up into two parts:

Reader Question: Is there anyway to transition to natural hair without doing a big chop?

Yes, you can transition to natural hair without doing the “big chop” by wearing wigs, weaves, and extensions for a period of time. Be sure to shampoo your hair, oil the scalp and massage it, and apply a leave-in conditioner on the hair before preparing it for such styles as braids, weave techniques, and wigs. These steps keep the hair hydrated and scalp circulated while lying dormant. After receiving the new style, continue to massage the scalp. Be sure to keep the hair ends clipped in between styles. As the hair is transitioning to it’s natural state, another style option is hair pressing. As the chemical grows out, press only the new growth.

Reader Question: I’ve always had long hair and hair “options”, I’m not familiar with weaves or wigs but I want something different but I’m scared at the thought of not having options and not being able to do anything about it until it grows back. I assume takes years to get to a decent length..

There is a wonderful book on the market entitled “The World of Wigs, Weaves, and Extensions” and it really does an excellent job explaining the different wigs and weaves options. (,, and anywhere books are sold) The book gives background information on the different commercial hair types, application procedures, as well as removal processes. It details how to maintain your hair while wearing commercial hair. I refer this book to help educate you and others. The more educated on commercial hair, the better your selection, and you will be aware of your options. Therefore, you don’t have to be “scared of not having options,” as you have braids, Interlocking weave techniques (No braids, No glue), braid and sew-in weave, dreadlock extensions, hair pressing, and so much more.

It doesn’t take long to get to a decent length, as the hair grows everyday. It depends on how fast your hair grows, the condition of the hair, the texture, etc. So, it does take patience. Being most African-Americans hair usually grow from the scalp kinky or curly, as you are transitioning to natural, it may appear to take longer. But, when the hair is blown dry, you should see the progress. It is very important to keep the ends clipped and the hair shaft hydrated, as you will go from chemically treated hair to natural. The hair in both states need moisture and the hair ends need to be clipped to ensure a successful transition without breakage.

Toni Love is an International educator and published author. She holds a BA in Business Management and a MA in Continuing Education. She has been in the hair industry for over 25 years and is a licensed cosmetologist, instructor, barber, and product owner of Toni Love’s Hair Cleansing System. She also trains licensed professionals on advanced hair techniques, and is celebrating 10 years of owning Toni Love’s Training Center in Atlanta, GA.

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  • I transitioned for a year before cutting off my permed ends…and although this year April I will achieve 2 years of natural hair growth I am very uncomfortable with wearing my natural hair out. The length of my hair right now does not fit my body type and I look like a grown woman stuck in that awkward stage of her childhood where the decision to perm or not to perm exist. I love seeing women rocking their natural hair and I personally find it beautiful but unfortunately not every hairstyle fits everyone. My natural hair does not flow with my work clothes (I am a paralegal for a matrimonial law firm, working on Park Ave) … but it’s pretty cute when I want to dress down… -sighs-

    • tastythoughts

      u just haven’t learned to rock it well yet..and dont take it as an insult…but your mind is still trained to think that straight hair is more professional…i work for a senator…and i wear a fro every day and twistouts when not a fro…albeit my office environment is a little “lax” but whenever there is a hearing i always make sure i style my hair in a more “professional manner” usually a sleeker fro pulled back (btw i DONT have long natural hair either ive got maybe finger length hair  that cant pull into a nice bun…..but what im saying is until your comfy in your other words until your comfy showing off your hair…..its going to be hard for you to figure out what styles work for work and which dont….but trust me it can be done for corporate america…just read up on the various blogs and check out the utube vids….ive been natural since 09 and did the big chop in 10…right before it was the new hair craze (not saying that thats what or why u did it) again…not trying to point a finger just sharing some of my own hair styling 

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  • jackieOsassin

    i don’t think women should be so afraid of the big chop! i had neck length hair while i was still using relaxers, but it was brittle and every time i looked around i had to clip my ends, clip my ends, clip my ends ALL the TIME. i got sick of it and stopped using relaxers for about 8mths but it was getting harder and harder to style my hair while it was transitioning, and it seemed like everytime i tried using the transition styles (braids, weaves, etc.) it left my scalp TENDER and painful and i just got sick of it and decided to chop it like two months ago. i LOVE it, it’s definitely a breath of fresh “hair” lol i love how manageable my hair is now, it’s pretty and coily, and i know i’ll be back to my original length in no time flat if i take care of it right!

    plus, during the summer, it keeps all that sticky, hot hair off your neck! heaven…. : )

  • Teflon Mom

    Don’t transition with presses only – it will fry your new growth before you have a chance to enjoy it.  Presses are alright occasionally, but also look into ways to get your relaxed hair to act more like your new growth insead of the other way around.  Twist outs, braid outs, roller sets, buns are all good options. 

    I planned on transition for a year or more, but dealing with two competing textures is a pain.  I big chopped about 5 months in and I’m really happy with the results.

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