Image of two girls with wavy hair laughing

Published 12th May, 2021

How To Survive The Curly Girl Transition Period

The curly girl transition period is dreaded by everyone. Those first few weeks when your hair looks worse than it did before. When you want to give up. 

Why does this happen?

The simple answer is it takes time for your curly hair to change (transition). You may have been damaging your hair with heat for years. And you simply can’t undo this in one wash.

The transition is different for everyone. It’s quick for some, longer for others. Either way, when you change the method you’ve been using for years, it’s going to be a bit of a shock.

Your hair may look frizzier or more oily than you’re used to, yet this won’t last forever. You may want to give up. But remember, this is about getting healthy, happy wavy hair so try and commit to 4 weeks of the new method and just wait to see the difference it makes.

Before we break down how to survive the transition phase, you need to make sure your hair has a natural wave or curl to it. Otherwise none of this will work. This article will tell you whether you have wavy hair or not. 

Here are some of the things your wavy hair may experience in the transition period.


My Hair Is More Oily Than Usual

You may have been using sulphate shampoos previously, which have been stripping your hair of oils.

This leaves your scalp working hard to produce more oil. So once you switch to a sulphate free shampoo, such as the Merwave Cleanse shampoo, it may take a while for your scalp to recognise that it doesn’t need to produce as much oil anymore.

My Hair Has A Weird Wave Pattern

Your curly hair may have been damaged from straightening or heat styling. Because of this you may have sections of your hair that are limp and not doing much.

The more your use the Merwave method, condition your hair properly using the Repair Conditionerand scrunch your hair, the more it will remember its natural wave pattern. This can take time, especially on the top layer of your hair, where typically it’s been the most damaged from heat styling, the sun and strain from tying it up.

As your hair grows you may even find that it feels like you have two different types of hair on your head - the healthy new hair (at the root) and the old damaged hair (in the length).

This is normal and as you get your hair trimmed it will remove the old damaged hair, leaving you with just the healthy, natural wavy hair.

Image of two girls walking down road with their wavy hair on display

My Hair Is Knotty and Tangly

When you change to a new method of looking after your curly hair you might find your hair has more tangles and knots. Don’t worry, this is perfectly normal and will eventually pass.

It could be that as you experiment with applying and layering gels and mousses your hair is rebelling. Or that you need to work on your application technique. Find a suitable hairbrush (my favourite is a Tangle Teaser) and make sure you thoroughly brush your hair when it’s fully saturated with the Repair Conditioner.

I'm Struggling With Frizz 

You may long for the sleekness that your straighteners used to bring. Fear not the frizz will improve.

Frizz comes from lack of moisture. So once you condition your hair properly this will decline. The weather can also cause frizz, as outlined in this article

It may also take a while to find the perfect amounts of products to use in your hair. Lastly, the oils that are finding their happy levels on your scalp will eventually work their way down the hair shaft, which will smooth them out.

Check out our article '5 Ways To Fight Frizz' to learn more about how to get rid of your frizz. 

So now we know the signs that your hair is transitioning, here are some things that might help you survive the transition more easily.

Image of four girls with wavy hair


Get Rid Of The Dead Weight

Your hair may look dried out because you need a good cut from years of bleach and heat styling.

I understand it’s hard to cut the length. Yet it’s worth seeking out a curly hair trained hairdresser as they can cut your hair to make it look thicker and maintain as much length as possible. They will also style your hair using Curly Girl Method friendly products. This article shares tips on how to get a good curly girl haircut. 

Once it’s cut it will feel more manageable to wash and style. Those tangled ends will be no more!

Take A Break

You may reach a point where you want to give up and reach for your straighteners. Don’t do it!

Try a product free day. Just shampoo, condition and air dry. This might also show you the progress you have made.

Go Longer Between Washes

Try and go longer between washes.

If you have particularly greasy roots then you can try a Curly Girl Method approved dry shampoo and spray this onto your scalp. Or you can use baby powder, sprinkle this sparingly and rub into the scalp.

Use Accessories

When your wavy hair is in this awkward phase or you’re having a bad hair day, tie it up, use invisibobbles, silk scrunchie or hair bands so they are gentle on your hair.

There are so many great accessories out there so have fun trying them. If you tie your hair up, try not to have it too tight as this can thin out your hairline and damage your roots from the strain and excess force.

Don’t forget about hats - especially in the winter months. There are some great silk lined beanies out there, including these ones from Sunrise.

We've put together another article revealing the best wavy / curly hair products you need in your life. 

Image of two girls drinking coffee in the sun

Just Be You

Don’t compare yourself to others.

This may sound obvious but we are all guilty of seeing a picture online and wishing that was our hair. Some hair will transition in weeks. Some will take months or years. 

Focus on your hair not someone else’s. Chances are, their pictures online are their best curly hair days, you just don’t see the greasy, bun hair days!

Smile For The Camera :)

Take progress pictures once a week.

You may think you’re not making progress but like anything (losing weight or learning anew skill) it takes time. If you look back at your day 1 photo on day 30 you will see a difference. 

Experiment with different tactics and tips, including the ones outlined in this post. This will enable you to discover what works for your curly hair and what doesn't.

And Always Remember...

Your hair won’t drastically change. 

You’re aiming to have the best, most healthy version of your hair. So don’t expect your wavy hair to become ringlets (it’s probably never going to happen).

Embrace your natural waves and love them for what they are.  



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