Go Natural

Relaxed African hair
Photo: G-stockstudio/Shutterstock
Q: I've had my hair relaxed for almost 11 years. It was my mother's choice for me to wear my hair this way. I've been getting my hair professionally done, and now that I am an adult I would like to "go natural" with my hair.
My hair is past my shoulders in length, but it is really damaged. I'd like to embrace my natural beauty, but how long does it take for relaxed hair to go natural?

A: Well, the process of relaxing the hair is permanent. This means that it causes a permanent change in the wave pattern of the hair by destroying a significant portion of the chemical side bonds that give shape to the wave of the hair and also provide structural integrity and strength to the hair. In order to go natural, you will have to grow the hair out and remove the relaxer portions of the hair.
With an average rate of growth at one-half inch per month, a person whose hair is eight to ten inches in length will have to grow their hair for sixteen to twenty months before all of the relaxed hair has been grown out and removed.
Often, when an individual wants to go natural, they will consult a stylist and discuss hairstyles that will allow them to avoid having to remain a slave to the relaxer. In such cases, braided hairstyles are often called into service to create looks that will give the hair a style that can be maintained while disguising the demarcation between the relaxed and natural hair portions.
See also:
The scientific processes during perming & relaxing
Would I have to cut my relaxed hair off if I want to grow it out?