What do you do when you want to go natural again?
A little background: There are three methods for permanently straightening or relaxing hair, and they all work by breaking the disulfide bonds in curls to smooth them into straight strands, says Boston cosmetic chemist Jim Hammer.
The straighteners may be permanent, but new root growth disrupts the sleekness. The full grow-out process takes time (up to two years if you want hair to fall past the shoulders!), so you'll have plenty of time to perfect your mediation skills.
Choose one that will transition seamlessly with the shape of your incoming curls to make the grow-out process easier. For example, Unilever hairstylist Ursula Stephen suggests that someone with tighter coils go for a short afro style (the round shape of the growing hairs plays well with the round shape of the look), and that someone with flatter waves try a lob (a sharp cut flatters this type of hair, which grows down instead of out).
The lived-in wave (a curl toward the roots with boxier ends) is having a moment, so girls with a wavier curl pattern are in luck. To enhance your incoming curls, wrap sections of hair around a two-inch curling iron, leaving out three inches of your ends. Another pro trick? Book frequent trims and ask your stylist to texturize ends; it will soften the difference between the two textures, making the curly top and straight bottom more visually harmonious.
As your new hair grows in, don't forget to give some TLC to the older strands, which can be weakened during the relaxing process, says Hammer. Once a week, apply an ultra-reparative, deep-conditioning treatment to the straight parts for 10 minutes to help heal damage, then rinse. Look for one with strengthening ingredients like vitamin B5, found in Pantene Gold Series Repairing Hair Mask ($11.50, amazon.com).
This article originally appeared in the May 2017 issue of Women's Health. For more great advice, pick up a copy of the issue on newsstands now!