Transitioning to natural hair can take its toll if you don’t take special care. Your natural hair tends to dry out quickly, so the most important aspect to remember is to keep it moisturised.

Braiding your hair or using bantu knots are two ways to protect your natural hair from the elements, but there are also other safeguards against excessive breakage.

  1. Moisturise

“Most of us tend to neglect our teenie weenie afro, leaving it dry most times, yet at some point, as our hair grows, that teenie weenie afro will be the oldest part of our hair and will be prone to split ends, dryness and breakage from earlier neglect,” says AfroBotanics founder Ntombenhle Khathwane.

READ MORE: The dos and don’ts of transitioning

Your first step to moisturising involves a weekly moisturising deep conditioning treatment. This will give your natural growth a much softer texture, making it easier to manage.

It’s advisable to use a water-based product to hydrate and detangle your hair, followed by an oil – like avocado oil, which contains a small amount of protein that strengthens your hair – and creme to lock in the moisture in your hair.

You can also consider applying leave-in conditioner to your hair after washing it to help manage your ‘fro better.

2. Use sulphate-free shampoo

Sulphates are harsh detergents that tend to dry out your hair, as they strip the protective oils, which is a big no-no as far as natural hair is concerned.

Use a sulphate-free shampoo to gently cleanse the hair without drying it out.

3. Never comb your hair when wet or apply heat 

“Avoid the temptation to straighten the growth by blow-drying or flat-ironing the curly growth to blend with the straight relaxed hair,” Khathwane advises.

READ MORE: Natural hairstyles for an interview

“Use of heat-styling tools is likely to cause irreversible heat damage to the hair, leading to breakage in the long run.”

Wet hair is extremely fragile, so it’s important to comb it only when it is dry and after you have applied moisturiser. Remember to always comb your hair from root to tip with a wide-toothed comb.

4. Invest in a silk pillowcase 

When you’re transitioning, your hair tends to become brittle, so it’s important that you invest in a good silk pillowcase.

This will minimise friction and breakage. You could also opt for a silk or satin sleeping cap that will help prevent dryness that is often made worse by the cold night air.