When I first announced that I was going back to natural, the first step I identified was the mental transition. The mental transition process, for me, was pretty simple. I knew I wanted to and would go natural then created a plan to get me through this transition. I started a Tumblr to post all of my natural hair inspirations, watched more natural hair and transitioning videos, and participated in transitioning threads on my go to forum.
The next step is preservation. What I mean by preservation is to preserve my relaxed ends and keep them as healthy as possible. At this point, I do have a lot of new-growth, but not enough to create the faux natural styles I wish to. So, in order to resist the urge to big-chop, I need my hair to look good throughout (most parts) the first year of my transition.
I chose not wear any extensions because I want to get to know my natural hair and I am also not using any heat because I simply don't need it.
The preservation stage, for me, started at 20 weeks post relaxer because my longest relaxer stretch was 20 weeks so I was entering un-charted waters.
My two tips for those that are in the preservation stage are to:
1.) Find and PERFECT at least 2 low manipulation hair styles.
This is important to keep you from getting frustrated or annoyed with your hair. If you have go-to styles, then the transition will be much easier for you.
My main go-to low-manipulation style is twists. Twists, as you can ALL see, are my ultimate favorite hair-style at this moment because they are so darn versatile. I can do just about anything with twists that I can do with my loose hair. They also keep my hair very moisturized, tangle free and I don't have to worry about detangling or fussing with my hair often. I also prefer twists over buns..because I can do so much more with them.
My favorite out low manipulation style is braid-outs/braid n curls.
I basically know what my results will look like and if it somehow becomes a fail, I can just throw it in an up-do.
2.) Keep it Simple
Keep your regimen as simple as it can get. Don't try a whole bunch of new products unless you really need to and don't manipulate your hair a lot. I believe that's where the breakage begins for a lot of transitioners or even long-term relaxer stretchers.
For me, I used to get the most breakage from de-tangling. So, early on in the game I found a new way to detangle that drastically reduced my breakage and even simplified my wash process.
Basically, my advice is to stick with what works and don't jump on any band-wagons,
I still have about 20 weeks left of my preservation stage...but because I already figured out my go-to styles and regimen, I am praying that it is a breeze.