Curly Hair Care

Transitioning From Chemically Straightened Hair to Curly Hair

Did you, like me some years ago got told by a salon you should get rebonding, smoothening or keratin done? And then few months later after all that damage and hair loss made you wonder how to get your curls back from chemical straightening?

If that’s you, you’re going to find this post very helpful.

Hi there, I’m Pallavi and I blog about natural hair care.

Like you, I grew up extremely frustrated with my curls. I hated the frizz (lovingly called Jhaadu by some bullies) & was hell bent on getting them straightened.

My hair used to originally look like this.

Rough FFrizzy Curly Hair

One day, just before my 12 std college farewell, I got my curls ‘smoothened’ which is basically a treatment that doesn’t last as long as straightening and isn’t AS damaging. It adds spaces between the curls in our hair and makes it smooth.

I was SO HAPPY. People around me were happy.

After Keratin Treatment

Initially, anyway.

Soon enough, my hair became ‘weird’. There is no better way to say it. Plus the new curls that were growing from my scalp were curly and frizzy and the lower sections straight, almost wonky.

I was told to get another treatment even after I told them the crazy hair fall I was going through.

Here’s a tip to salons in India– stop bullying young girls into getting treatments like this and learn how to ACTUALLY work with curly hair as it is.

I still can’t believe the people who you’d think should know everything about hair don’t even try to figure out natural hair except to treat it with chemicals.

Damaged Curly Hair

One day, in my first year of college (around 1.5 years after I got this treatment), I went to get a hair cut.

Unknown to me, this hair cut was a blessing in disguise.

The man had cut a lot of damaged hair off. And at that point my hair had grown quite long, leading to rough curls from my crown to the middle and the ends were these wavy messy damaged strands.

You can see the two textures in my hair below.

Curls And Damaged Hair

How to Get Back Your Curls After Chemical Treatments

This hair cut was my initiation into ‘Transitioning’.

In the natural hair universe transitioning means – Going back to your roots, literally!

So if you have gotten any chemical treatment like Brazilian Blowout, Smoothening, Rebonding or Straightening done, you need to slowly chop off the damaged hair while taking care of your new curls the right way.

But Pallavi, why is chopping off the straightened part so important? Can’t I just follow your tips & get them back?

This is not easy to hear or accept, but chemically altered hair is NOT going to go back to your natural curls. 

In chemical treatments , the products used (also called relaxers) alter the chemical bonds of your hair permanently, making it straight. It can’t go back now.

Some girls are brave enough to chop off ALL the damaged hair completely. But you DON’T have to do that if you’re not comfortable.

Do it slowly as your new hair grows but remember that this will take a few months or even a year.

My Hair Transformation After Transitioning

Healthy Curly Hair

Some time after that hair cut, I discovered WHY my hair was always rough and frizzy.

This post should help YOU understand- 10 Things to Remember About Curly Hair

How to Take Care of your Hair During Transitioning

If you can’t cut off all the damaged hair in one go, please do it slowly. Meanwhile start doing the below-

  1. Applied a gentle shampoo for the scalp
  2. After rinsing out the shampoo, I generously drenched my hair in conditioner. And I mean generously.
  3. Using my fingers, I detangled gently.
  4. I detangled once again with a wide tooth comb followed with a narrow comb.
  5. Now that my curls were smooth and clumped together, I rinsed out the conditioner, but not completely.
  6. Next, I smoothed on a leave in conditioner and combed again. (If you have thinner or wavier hair than me, then smooth on your leave in conditioner or stylers. DON’T comb after since it can break your clumps.
  7. Next, smooth on a gel and scrunch up sections of your hair gently, removing excess water and product. (Gel is optional but fantastic for humid weather)

You can watch my Youtube or IGTV videos to see how I do these steps.

When all the damaged hair is done, or at least 60-70% of your hair is naturally wavy or curly, you can start the CG Method.

Check the pictures below to see how much change happens when you take care of your hair naturally

How To Get Back Curly Hair After Chemical Straightening

Damaged curls to healthy curls

Do’s & Don’ts of Transitioning

1. Don’t apply any heat on your hair. This means no straightening, blow drying, even if it’s ‘just the bangs’.

2. Do oil your scalp and use a gentle shampoo (preferably sulphate free).

3. Do apply conditioner on your hair generously from mid length to ends. And I mean GENEROUSLY!

4. Do trim your damaged length every month. You can also chop off all the damaged hair in one go. It’s completely your call.

5. Do deep treatments/hair masks every week– This will help your curls to remain moisturised & reduce breakage. Super hydration is the key! You can check out 3 ways I deep condition my curls in my video below or try these 5 DIY Hair Masks!

6. Do put your hair in protective hairstyles

A big issue girls with transitioning hair have is that they can’t stand how ‘weird’ their hair looks- straight at the bottom, curly at the top.

In order to avoid that & until you have only curly/wavy hair on your head, you can put your hair into a plait, a loose bun or any other protective hairstyle.

Protective hairstyle refers to braids and buns.

7. Don’t Lose Hope

This is the most important rule! This will take time – hair grows only a couple of inches naturally every month.

You can take hair vitamins and oil your hair regularly to speed it up but you can’t do this without trusting the process & having patience.

If you want to see more of reader’s transformations, head on to my Instagram profile and check out the highlight called Testimonials.

The Curious Jalebi

To stay motivated, especially on the days you are sick & tired of trying so hard, visualise how awesome your curls will look in some time.

Do not compare your hair with other curly girls right now, as tempting as that is because this process is to find out about your curly hair pattern, not to match to anyone elses.

Hungry For More Tips?

Check out my post for beginners – Curly Hair Tips For Beginners

You can also watch more helpful tutorials on my Youtube channel.

All the best & stay positive! See you on my Instagram @thecuriousjalebi for more post updates & tips on hair care.

Love,

Pallavi

  • Reply
    Pooja
    at

    Hi Pallavi, So I had super Curly and frizzy hair around 3B and had gotten it straightened like 4 times. But the last haircut was an eyeopener cause it caused a lot of damage. Now I have decided to embrace my natural curls. I have read your blog and trust me it was an amazing support system. Just wanted to ask, what were the hairstyles you followed when the hair looked weird- half straight and half curly. I am currently in that phase now and could use some help!

    • Reply
      Pallavi Juneja
      at

      So when I was going through this I wasn’t really aware that I had a weird mix of texture or that I could do something about it- so I would tie it into a pony tail and not care. But since then I have read protective styles are the way to go. Tie it into a plait – it will hide the texture change and keep it safe from breakage.

  • Reply
    Aiswarya
    at

    Reading your transitioning journey was so inspiring . It’s been 1and a half year i chemically smoothened my hair and after 6 months of hair smoothening it’s look like half straight and half curly. So i waited 1 year with that hair and i wasn’t using deep conditioning or any transitioning products but there was an increase in curly hair and it is so inappropriate with the straight ends. The hair fall was a little bit more than usual but i used hair mask and oils that reduced a little bit of hair. I used shampoo and conditioner once a week and it continued. So two week before i just went for a hair cutting for cutting my damaged end. About 2 cm of my damaged straight hair has been cutted out. The hair cut was good because it made the curl projected. Now my half curled hair is at the length of shoulder. So i am thinking of cutting all my straight hair. Will that help my curls to get back? Will my hair length increase if i cut the straight ends? Does that hair look natural after the cut? Is the curls occured with the straight end is natural. Or can i change that to natural and healthy.

    • Reply
      Pallavi Juneja
      at

      Hi Aishwarya, I’m going to answer your queries in order-

      So i am thinking of cutting all my straight hair. Will that help my curls to get back?
      So once the straight hair goes, the curly hair that stops in the middle currently will curl more naturally. Then all your hair will be naturally curly and your routine will show better results.

      Will my hair length increase if i cut the straight ends?
      Nope- your length will reduce because the straight ends would be cut off.. but as your natural curls grow over time, you will have one hair pattern instead of two.

      Does that hair look natural after the cut?
      I suggest you cut that straight section off, go home and wash, condition and style the curly girl way to see how it will look.

      Is the curls occured with the straight end is natural. Or can i change that to natural and healthy.
      No you can’t change chemically straightened hair to curly hair. Best to trim damaged hair.

  • Reply
    marabanigoos
    at

    Hi! When you were transitioning from rebonded hair back to your natural hair, what hair care routine were you doing? For rebonded hair or for curly hair?

    • Reply
      Pallavi Juneja
      at

      At that time, I hadn’t wuite figured out how to take care of curls, so I only shampooed and conditioned without realising. It was half straight half curly, usually in a ponytail. After I cut off the damaged part, some months later I learned about curly girl method, then incorporated the tips.

  • Reply
    Kriupa
    at

    Hi Pallavi! My sister recommended this blog to me because I have been suffering through a transition after I accidentally did a keratin straighten. The short version is I went to India in Jan 2019 and thought I was getting a “hair botox treatment” which promises to revitalize hair while keeping your curls and basically just improves shine and is almost sold as anti-ageing for your hair. But when they were doing it, I noticed that they started straightening it with a flat iron and I started googling the keratin process, (which I had never had done), and realized that they were actually doing a keratin straighten! I started completely freaking out and the salon was like, “Why wouldn’t any Indian girl want a keratin straighten?” I was so upset because I loved my curls which ranged from 2c to 3b, were never frizzy, and were pretty shiny and bouncy and lovely. I wish I never opted for the hair botox treatment, I just thought it was a less expensive hair treatment alternative as I was visiting family from the U.S. and thought well why not since I’m here. Fast forward to today, April 2020, I have FINALLY got my curls back, but they are resenbling your pictures of transitioning frizzy curls above and, considering current times, I’m not able to cut off the damage. The other day, I used CG approved products and did a clarifying shampoo, 1 hour deep conditioning mask, and then put in a curl defining leave-in cream and air-dried to 75% dry and then diffused and the curls looked amazing. To sleep on them, I did a pineapple with satin pillowcase and the next day, I refreshed with spray bottle of water and used a bit of product if needed to redefine some of the curls. But that’s where I ran into issues. Throughout the day, it ended up being a frizzy mess and I just put it up in a loose bun because I hated how it looked. Do you have any videos or recommendations for second/third day curls? I feel like my hair looks it’s best when I do the styling and everything the day I wash it. But the next day it’s frizz central and it’s so frustrating because I end up putting it up for the rest of the week until I wash it. I usually wash it once a week especially because in transition it’s been so frizzy and dry. Also, do you have product recommendations for hair masks that I can get in the U.S. while my hair is transitioning?

    Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, I see how you respond to everyone’s comments and that’s really such a nice thing to see!

    • Reply
      Pallavi Juneja
      at

      Hey Kriupa! Yes Many Indian salons are absolutely shameless when it comes to things like this. I also recommend you do the routine for a few weeks to a month, esp after cutting off all the chemically treated hair off. Deep condition once a week, you’ll need to be patient. Also, I’ll be able to recommend better if I can see how your hair looks like. PLease email or drop them on my fb group ASK Jalebi, I’m fastest there!

  • Reply
    Priyambada
    at

    Hi

    I got the keratin treatment by Global Keratin the Best last month. I used to have fairly thin, frizzy, slightly wavy hair and I thought the keratin treatment would just reduce frizz and the volume would remain. Post the treatment, my hair is flat, limp, and stick straight. I absolutely hate the treatment and I was told by the salon that washing it would make my hair revert and the brand states that it is meant to last for 3-5 months. I’ve been washing it religiously for 30 days and it has remained the same. I wanted to grow my hair out and I asked my hair stylist whether I should chop my hair off and again wait to grow my hair out or will the washing eventually bring back my waves, and he said that I should grow my hair out and it will eventually go.

    So my question is, even though I had mild waves is it possible that my waves will return after 6 months or so, even if it might be drier, or should I completely chop off my hair and regrow it again?

    • Reply
      Priyambada
      at

      Oh PS. I have 2A waves, if that helps. And now my hair is pokey straight with barely any volume. Help 🙁

    • Reply
      Pallavi Juneja
      at

      Hey Priyambada, I can’t say for sure but most likely it won’t go back to how it was. Be patient and as the length increases, best to cut off the keratin part and take care of your new waves the right way!

  • Reply
    S
    at

    Hey Pallavi- Thanks for this!!
    I got my hair smoothened a few weeks ago and facing a lot of hair fall too- especially in the shower. Did you have the same experience?

    When did you notice that the hair fall stopped/reduced?
    I started using egg/avocado masks, ayurvedic coconut oil and a gentle shampoo
    I’m now determined to embrace my natural curls !! cant wait for them to grow back

    • Reply
      Pallavi Juneja
      at

      It didn’t stop for many months actually 🙁 Hopefully your experience is different than mine!

  • Reply
    Natasha
    at

    Hi Jalebi, I’m Natasha. Well I’ve just rebonded my hair 2 days ago and I’m not happy with it… Since it’s new I actually thought to discontinue for hair treatment and not do another rebonding which I may need to do in 4-6 months time when my natural roots grow

    I don’t really want to do it since I know it will get even worse soo i thought of just grow out my “just” rebonded hair and back to my natural hair. Is it possible?

    I need your advice on when is the best time or I can just start right away?

    (btw, my orginial hair I had medium hair volume with medium wavy/culy which is different from the curls the girls show it here)

    Thank you!
    Natasha

    • Reply
      Pallavi Juneja
      at

      Yes, you should grow out your rebonded hair, cut it off gradually and take care of the new curls with the CG Method. You can start right away but I doubt your new curls will come out so fast! Just work on first growing new hair and cutting this straightened part off

      • Sreya Pal
        at

        Hi pallavi, can you tell me specific products (oil, serum etc ) to boost up my natural hair growth the fastest?
        And also during my transtioning, im facing a lot of hairfall and breakage. Can you tell me how to prevent this , as i really aim to have a good volume of natural curls after i chop off damaged hair

      • Pallavi Juneja
        at

        Accept that this happens, almost 90% of all readers, including me who were transitioning from a chemical treatment faced heavy hairfall and breakage. Do regular scalp massages with castor, coconut, sesame oil (either is fine) and have your multivitamins (after consulting with doc). Eat lots of proteins, veggies and greens.

  • Reply
    Rajani
    at

    Hey! Thanks for such precious information!
    Can you please suggest me an affordable sulfate-silicon free shampoo? I’m very confused!

  • Reply
    Sohini
    at

    Hey Pallavi,this was really informative and helpful.
    I have been going through a problem…it would be kind of you if you help by recommending some tips.
    Here’s my story…
    A few months ago I had a hair smoothing treatment and I was told to use a professional shampoo and conditioner for the same, for maintaining the treated hair.However,while using the shampoo and conditioner I started noticing huge hair fall and so stopped using them and switched to other shampoo and it got worse.My hair fall got doubled up and my hair now looks really slim compared to what it looked shortly after the treatment.(I naturally had curly hair and after the treatment it got wavy.)and I don’t know how to regain my natural curls..My hair problems seem to increase day by day as my hairline is thinning and turning gray.(I am 16 btw and really worried about the hairfall.These problems are giving me a hard time and making it impossible for me to stand confidently in the public)
    The crown of my head has curly hair whereas the Lower ends of my hair is wavy.It would be really….really….really kind of you if you helpe give atleast some suggestions and is the hair fall problem chronic?Will it damage my hair forever?
    Please reply your tips and suggestions are vital and important to me.

    • Reply
      Pallavi Juneja
      at

      Hi Sohini, I went through the same thing, even my hair fall after keratin treatment was crazy. Yes, it got better and it became less. Don’t worry. I want you to read through the tips I have given in the post (I have updated the blog post) and then slowly cut off the damaged hair. Let that nehgative energy go. Time to grow healthy curls with proper care. Don’t stress about the damage already done- won’t change! Concentrate on what You CAN control and that is your next step.

      Get a good but basic conditioner & leave in conditioner until you’re able to chop off all the damaged part

      • Monica
        at

        Even I had smootening treatment and after few months had severe hairfall and even have it now. My question is why does that happen

      • Pallavi Juneja
        at

        Maybe the hair goes into shock? Not sure either.

  • Reply
    Laura
    at

    This gave me lotsa hope. I’ve chemically straightened my hair too. Chopped off most of it. My hair naturally is straight on top and lotta curls and frizzyness under. Reading this gives me more hope that it will be back into its originally state

    • Reply
      Pallavi Juneja
      at

      I’m glad the post helps Laura! Be patient while you’re transitioning & remember to keep chopping off chemically treated hair!

  • Reply
    Ron
    at

    Hi, thank you for posting tutorials and your transition story. It’s given me the hope that my hair days will get better. I have been following your routine. I work out daily and my sweaty scalp causes an odour. Can you recommend something that does not include washing my hair? For now i have been spraying rose water to my scalp. But because of my gym pony, the crown flattens out and becomes frizzy

    • Reply
      Pallavi Juneja
      at

      Thank you Ron! i’m glad this posts helps! Please make sure your rose water is pure and does not have any alcohol as an ingredient. You can learn to refresh your curls (once the sweat dries up) with this DIY spray mix I use: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBaiYA4oM6s

  • Reply
    Cleo
    at

    thanks for your tips to get my curls back
    but my curls have small locks not large locks and it is somewhat long
    now 8 months have gone after my rebonding and it has grown to a certain length
    since those rebonded part never become curly is it ok if I put spiral perms to those rebonded parts
    I’m afraid to deal with chemicals now cause rebonding damaged my hair alot and it reduces my self confidence as well
    so please tell me is it ok if I put spiral perms only to rebonded part not and never for natural growing part

    • Reply
      Pallavi Juneja
      at

      HI Cleo! You can get your chemically rebonded hair permed if you’d like but I wouldn’t recommend another dose of chemicals to already damaged hair. If you really want to get them a little healthier, you can try an olaplex treatment in the salon which helps in repairing the hair bonds. But, the best thing would be to slowly cut off your damaged hair while taking care of the new curls the right way. Let the bad sections go so that the good sections grows faster and curls better!

  • Reply
    ankita
    at

    mine is not chemically treated but still they are dry and damaged fine thin hair brittle and break halfway… they dont grow beyond shoulder length..plus no volume. i have faced hairfall in last few months. its better now. can u help me out with this.? how to go about it..how can i reverse hairfall n strengthen my hair

    • Reply
      Pallavi Juneja
      at

      Hi Ankita, have you used a lot of heat on your hair? Also you can’t reverse hair fall but you can you can reduce it for the future. Do consult a dermatologist for the hair fall – he or she might prescribe some hormone & iron tests plus hair vitamins. Also try the following tips:

      1. Keep your scalp clean with a gentle shampoo
      2. Use a moisturising conditioner in the shower & detangle only then. Try a method called Squish To Condish
      3. Use a denman brush with a light leave in and flax seed gel to style.
      4. Use a diffuser with your hair dryer for more volume.

  • Reply
    Curly Hair Tips For Beginners - The Curious Jalebi
    at

    […] Pallavi Juneja on Transitioning From Chemically… […]

  • Reply
    adii
    at

    very inspiring! just started trying out.. Ur amazing:*

  • Reply
    anshu jain
    at

    my hair r smooth and I want to curl them now,will it work as I have chemically straighten my hair, plz reply.

    • Reply
      Pallavi Juneja
      at

      You mean you have naturally curly hair?

  • Reply
    Minnie
    at

    Awesome Pallavi!!!
    You are helping so many curly gals!

  • Reply
    Jhimli
    at

    Hi Pallavi, is there a shop/website (not Amazon) in Delhi/NCR where I can buy the shea and garnier product and a good quality diffuser

    • Reply
      Pallavi Juneja
      at

      No, it’s difficult to get offline 🙁

  • Reply
    Sargun
    at

    hey … this is so inspiring… its been 3 months i have quit using straighter.. i’d rebonded my hair in 2015 and that was the worst decision of my life.. well i really need your advice.. i have curls now except at the ends..( rebonded ends) and i can’t chop my hair ( family rituals) i am unable to manage my frizz .. I am using cantu creamy lotion and enliven conditioner. . results are not as expected..its been a month i have started using these products.. guide me please 😕

  • Reply
    Ruchira Ghosh
    at

    I too am transitioning, but it’s not from treated to natural hair. I have been one to always comb my hair (dry) and never use any product apart from shampoo and conditioner (the regular ones). I never knew curly/wavy hair is not to be combed, just like I had no clue about not using sulphates and silicone! Can you please tell me is my transition journey going to be any different or less time taking than yours. My hair is straighter near the roots and the ends curl well. So since I have just recently stopped combing my hair looks just plain unruly and unkept. There is no definition whatsoever.
    I have hardly ever used dryers. I don’t know what to do to make my curls look nice.
    I have been using rainforest range (shampoo and conditioner) since a month. I have started using the same conditioner as leave-in. And use either set wet gel or aloe Vera gel. It’s only been about two weeks since I started with the leave in and gel routine.
    My hair type is 2c/3a I believe. Any help tips or guidance is welcome.

    • Reply
      Pallavi Juneja
      at

      Hi again! Your transition journey will be faster and easier for you as compared to mine! Can I suggest you to use a different leave in ? I’ve tried that conditioner and it doesn’t give any hold so I don’t think it’s good as a leave in. A gel will definitely help. Have you tried ecostyler gel? It’s my favourite. Really good hold. Can you send me your hair pictures on Instagram or fb. @thecuriousjalebi? I can recommend better that way. 🙂

      • Ruchira Ghosh
        at

        Hi! I had sent you my pics on FB , I think the very day I got this reply from you. Haven’t heard from you since. Please send me some product recommendations, I cannot seem to be able to get my curls to look defined. Most of the curly products seem so expensive, and I don’t know which one really to pick up. The only thing I have been able to figure out till now is that, aloe Vera gel and egg make my hair look more messy and unkept, and thus do not work for me!!
        Please help.

    • Reply
      Ruchira Ghosh
      at

      Hey! Pallavi thanks a ton for replying, and that too so soon. Please do suggest a leave in conditioner that you think might help me.
      I have used the set wet gel, the yellow one and blue one once each. Otherwise I have been using the green leaf aloe Vera gel on and off, maybe only 3 or 4 times till now, since I left dry combing my hair.
      I would like pocket friendly options, since I’m just starting out, don’t want to spend too much only to realise that the product isn’t really working for me!
      Can I DM my pics to you on Instagram, I’m already following you. Or should I send it through FB messenger, I don’t would like to basically send it personally.

    • Reply
      Meri
      at

      This is a great article! Very interesting to read!
      Anyway I have a question. Well I am a 15 years old student, I used to have a undefined curly hair, it was so bad plus I didn’t know how to treat my curly hair before and I decided to straighten my hair. I’ve straighten my hair for three times and I’m about to straighten it for the four times, and I still in doubt. I want my curly hair back, but I don’t think I can wait for the transition of my hair, because I have to go to school. I have to heating my hair then if I go to school. Also I feel bad to my parents because I cost much money to straighten my hair, even though they are ok, but I still feel guilty for cost much money, Imagine how much money we can safe from not straighten my hair. Should I get permanent curl on my hair? What do you think?

      • Pallavi Juneja
        at

        So firstly, there is no permanent straightening procedure. Eventually it will get wonky, weird shaped and as long as new curls will grow out of your scalp, you will forever keep straightening. For hair health overall, it is best to reduce application of heat and chemicals on hair, esp if you are worried about the costs. I know you might find it difficult right now since you are in school so you take your time to figure out the best time to get back to your natural hair. You can, if you want to do this now, slowly keep chopping off the heat damaged sections while taking care of your new curls the right way. When you go to school, simply plait your hair so that the texture difference doesn’t show.

  • Reply
    Hinshara Habeeb
    at

    Very inspiring. I am at the transitioning stage as well and following Curly penny tutorials but I was unhappy with the fact that I couldn’t find most of the products in India. Now I have discovered your blog. Excited to start the journey 🙂

    • Reply
      Pallavi Juneja
      at

      Thank you Hinshara! Let me know your experience with the products ! All the best on your hair journey ! ❤️

  • Reply
    peppypetite
    at

    which gel and serum do you use and in what order? your hair looks great!

    • Reply
      Pallavi Juneja
      at

      Thank you! Eco styler gel followed with cold pressed avocado oil of sometimes bodyshop grapes seed glossing serum 🙂

  • Reply
    Maithili
    at

    Wowwww….Just when I needed to read it..! Found it….!
    Keep inspiring girl..! U r awesome..!

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