The natural hair movement is hardly a new one, but as Afro hair is increasingly visible in the media, more and more women are thinking about growing theirs out.

However, it’s not necessarily the easiest thing to do, particularly if your locks have been subjected to years of chemical straightening. Even big stars have had their struggles – take singer Ciara, who has posted on Instagram about her joy in finally managing to grow her hair out after the damage done by relaxer when she was younger.

Janelle Monae
Janelle Monae (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Ciara’s not the only celebrity who’s opened up about their natural hair journey. In the past, singer Janelle Monae gave advice to women with hair like hers, telling Essence: “Embrace your hair. Natural hair has always been in, but its celebrated even more now. So let your natural hair shine. There’s so much beauty in our natural state.”

So what happens when you use relaxer?

“The chemical process commonly known as relaxer will change your natural texture, breaking down the natural structure of the hair,” explains hairstylist Charlotte Mensah. “You can experience damaged hair when relaxer goes wrong, including dry, crispy hair, broken ends and lots of frizz. In order to keep the hair healthy, you must revitalise the hair by replacing what has been taken away.”

In most cases, you’re dealing with some pretty serious chemicals which strip your hair of protein, which is key for strong and healthy locks. This means growing it out can seem like a particularly daunting task.

Treating damaged relaxed hair Cropped shot of a young woman combing out her hair while looking in the bathroom mirror

Mensah does admit that “transitioning is a slow process, which can be frustrating and discouraging”. It’s because there’s a clear line between your damaged ends and the natural hair growing through. “This is known as the line of demarcation,” explains Mensah. “It is extremely vulnerable to breakage, which is why it’s important to avoid over-manipulation and to keep hair moisturised.”

There are some things to keep in mind when considering growing out your hair – and for Mensah, you need to be aware of what texture your hair is. She says: “Wavy hair is soft and very elastic, therefore the wave pattern of relaxed wavy hair will not break off” – however you need to be more careful if you have tightly coiled curls, because they are “more susceptible to breakage when growing out relaxer”.

Growing out your natural hair – particularly if it’s undergone years of chemical damage – might seem like a tough thing to do, but it’s by no means impossible. These are Mensah’s tips for coming out the other side with the healthiest, best-looking hair possible.

How to grow out damaged relaxed hair

1. Give yourself about 6-8 months – by then you should have enough growth to get excited.

2. The goal is to blend two different textures into one – try twist-out roller sets or rod sets – these stretched styles will help make the two different textures have a unified curl pattern.

3. Depending on the length you have to start with, make sure to get a good trim each month to get rid of split ends.

4. Deep condition your hair with a rich hydrating hair mask weekly.

5. Cut down on how often you use styling tools like blow dryers or straighteners. Try air drying all your styles instead.

Young Afro beauty detangling her hair

6. Always de-tangle when your hair when is wet and slippery with conditioner, using a wide tooth comb or paddle brush. Start at the ends and work your way upwards.

You may also be interested in…

Best-selling Afro hair products for natural hair

Stuck for inspiration? Check out our list of best-selling Amazon products!

Bestseller No. 1
Detangling Hairbrush For Natural Curly - Afro Hair 3a To 4c,Wet And Dry Hair Comb scalp Massager...
  • 🎁[Get 3 Pcs Hair Brush Set]---: Hair detangling brush, scalp massage shampoo brush, and Hair Edge Brush Double Sided Control Hair Brush Comb.This hair brush set include most styles of brush to meet...
  • 🎁[Ergonomically Design]---:Designed with a non-slip and comfortable rubber grip.The detanglinn brush can help easily detangle matted hair, good for afro America 3a to 4c kinky wavy, curly, coily...
  • 🎁[Relax Yourself]---:This gentle scalp massager hair shampoo brush is perfect for exfoliation and deep-scalp treatments. Deeply pamper your scalp in the shower or before bed . It's lightweight, and...
Bestseller No. 2
AIITLLYNA Detangling Brush for Natural Hair-detangling Hairbrush for afro hair 3a to 4c Kinky...
  • ►DETANGLE EASILY: Flexible head with separate bristles, easily detangle curly, wavy, kinky or normal hair-without damage.
  • ► FOR WHO: If you have normal tangle or super curly 3a to 4c African American hair, this is the detangling brush for you.
  • ► WET & DRY: Shower with your hair soaking wet and with conditioner. Cut down your detangling time with better results.
Bestseller No. 3
Detangle Hair Brush, Detangler Brush for Women Girls Wet Dry Afro 3a to 4c Thick Frizzly Wavy Kinky...
  • Revolutionary Detangling Brush: A revolutionary hairbrush for 3a to 4c wavy, curly, coily hair. Flexible head with 8 rows of separate end-rounded bristles massage scalp gently and grip hair to define...
  • Four Benefits of Hollow-carved Design: 1.It’s made of improved ABS resin material which is lightweight but robust, so it won’t cause arm fatigue. 2.The curved comb body fits the scalp perfectly...
  • Adjustable Size Hairbrush: a detachable control bar makes this detangling brush either flexible or rigid depending on your hair type. Insert the bar into the lower slot to maximize the width of the...
Bestseller No. 4
BESTOOL Detangling Brush for Black Natural Hair, Detangler Brush for Natural Black Hair Curly Hair...
  • ► Original Detangler Brush: a revolutionary easy detangling brush for black natural hair, faster n easier detangle wet or dry curly kinky coily wavy 3/4abc texture.
  • ► Unique Design: 8 flexible free comb arms with a control bar. That's the key to make the detangler brush 70% less detangling time while 80% less damage.
  • ► Usage: Go in vertically to release the tangles and then smooth and define the hair horizontally. Comb arms firmer if works with the control bar.
Bestseller No. 5
Cantu Shea Butter for Natural Hair shampoo and conditioner, sulphate free
  • Cantu Shea Butter for Natural Hair shampoo and conditioner, sulphate free.

Last update on 2021-09-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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