Should I Big Chop or Transition?

Since I’ve been natural, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about whether or not to big chop or transition. This is definitely a big topic for someone who is thinking about going natural but isn’t sure the best way to do it. I remember making this decision for myself and it was definitely nerve-wracking. I had seen so many big chop videos and I wasn’t sure if I had the confidence to rock only a couple inches of hair. With this being said, I’m also a very decisive person and the thought of transitioning for a year made me cringe. Therefore after watching the same big chop video about 100 times, I decided that I wanted to jump right in and be 100% natural! When I made that decision, I didn’t have much new growth at all, so I knew I had to transition a little bit so I could at least have a couple inches of hair. So I decided that day that I would no longer heat style or process my hair and that I would transition for a few months and then big chop. If you’re trying to decide whether or not to big chop or transition, then I have listed some things below for you to consider which may make the decision a bit easier for you. I’ve also provided some tips on the types of products you will need as a newly natural!

Big Chop or Transition?

  1. The elephant in the room

    It’s no secret that if you big chop and you haven’t transitioned for very long, then you’re not going to have a lot of hair, and this is a scary thing for many women.

    One of the main standards of beauty in America is to have long, thick hair. We have put a lot of pressure on women to meet this standard and if they don’t, it can be seen as unfeminine. This was a mindset I had to conquer when I made the decision to big chop. I had to build myself up to not care what other people think. After all, other people are not splitting the bill for your relaxers, they’re not helping you maintain the health of your hair, and they don’t have to walk in your shoes.

    You are starting this hair journey for you. Therefore your opinion has to be the most important one in this process. Trust me, you will receive a lot of feedback about your decision whether it’s compliments, questions, or suggestions on how to style your hair. But the most important thing to keep in mind is the reason why you are starting this process in the first place. For me, it was that I wanted long, healthy hair and I did not want to spend a fortune on chemical processes that were destroying my strands and stunting my hair growth.

    Therefore if you’re thinking about big chopping, you are going to have to be okay with rocking a short do for a while. Don’t be afraid to do it! Honestly, I found it refreshing to have low maintenance, short hair. And I also felt as though a new me was reborn. I did not have the excuse of hiding behind my hair. People were seeing a new me, a more natural me, and that’s something that can bring out the best in you. There’s a reason why people refer to this process as one’s “natural hair journey.” It is a journey to a more natural, more authentic you. Therefore if you’re worried about how people will receive you, don’t let that hold you back from making this decision. Trust me, after a year or two of growth, you’ll be wishing you had short hair!

    big chop or transition

  2. Transitioning the Right Way

    big chop or transition

    There’s absolutely nothing wrong with transitioning if you find that this is best path for you. I transitioned for a few months before I big chopped so that I would have a few inches of new growth.

    Transitioning is basically the process of growing out your natural hair while steadily cutting off your processed hair overtime. During this time, you do not add any chemical processes to your hair.

    Transitioning is often the way to go for people who are not comfortable with cutting all of their hair off. However, transitioning can be more difficult than big chopping because it requires styling that disguises the contrast between your natural texture and the texture of your processed hair. People often resort to heat styling to disguise this texture difference which is something I would strongly caution against doing. Consistent heat styling will break down the protein in your hair strands causing heat damage and the alteration of your natural curl pattern just as a chemical process does.

    One of the main points of going natural is to unveil your true hair texture and learn how to style it and keep it healthy. You can’t properly do this if after you’ve transitioned, your natural hair is damaged. And as much as you will hear about reconstructive treatments and masks, there is no recovering truly damaged strands. Therefore if you are going to transition, I would highly recommend using styles that do not require a lot of direct heat or the use of a flat iron.

    When I transitioned, I often used flexi rods to style my hair. I would put the flexi rods in when my hair was wet and then sit under my hooded dryer or allow my hair to air dry. This style allowed me to avoid the direct heat of a flat iron, and also have a cute style that disguised the different textures in my hair. You can also do box braids, kinky twists, crochet braids, updos, or other protective styles that allow your hair to grow out without the use of heat.

  3. Products

    One thing that you’ll notice during your transition into natural hair is that you’ll need different products than the ones you used on your processed hair.

    When I first went natural, I did a lot of research into the types of products I could use on my hair to manage it and keep it healthy. I found that a lot of naturals made their own products and they used ingredients such as shea butter, coconut oil, sweet almond oil, olive oil, jojoba oil and more. So I excitedly went to whole foods to buy all of my natural products and then went home to experiment with different mixtures. This worked well for me in the beginning, but after you’ve been natural for a while, you might find that you don’t feel like mixing your own products or that it’s not necessary with all of the great natural hair brands out there. If you’re wondering about the types of products you’ll need, then I would recommend the following:

    – A non-sulfate shampoo– shampoos that contain sulfates (very strong cleansing agents) will strip your hair, making it feel dry and tangled. Find a shampoo that does not contain sulfates. I would recommend the Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Shampoo because it is moisturizing and cleansing or the Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen, Grow & Restore Shampoo which helps to balance the scalp and promote healthy hair growth.

    – A moisturizing conditioner/deep conditioner: Conditioner will be your best friend when it comes to managing and moisturizing your natural hair. You’ll want to use a conditioner that is both moisturizing and detangling. I would also recommend deep conditioning your hair regularly (at least once a month) to maintain the health of your hair and to encourage growth. As a regular conditioner or deep conditioner, I would recommend the SheaMoisture SuperFruit Complex 10-in-1 Renewal System Hair Masque. This is a great all around conditioner for whatever hair need you have. I use it regularly.

    – A leave-in conditioner: A leave-in conditioner acts as a daily moisturizer or a moisturizer to use right after you cleanse your hair. I like leave-in conditioners because they are a light moisturizer that you can use daily without weighing your hair down. For this, I would recommend the Soultanicals Knot Sauce or Mango Dip Detangling Slip. These are both great products for moisturizing and detangling natural hair. They are light and provide superb moisture and a lot of slip (watery texture that helps to detangle natural hair). They also smell delicious!

    Styler: If you big chop, then you won’t have much styling to do. Therefore you’ll mainly be using moisturizers. You will however want a styler as your hair grows out to give you definition for twistouts, braidouts…etc. My favorite styler is the KeraVada Creme Brulee 3 Day Hair Moisturizer. I love this product because it not only gives you amazing curl definition, but it is also super moisturizing! It’s an amazing styling cream for braidouts, twistouts…you name it. I would also recommend the SheaMoisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie. This is a must-have for your natural hair arsenal. It’s a great product for moisturizing your hair and creating voluminous definition.

    Going natural is a big decision and not knowing whether to big chop or transition can add stress to an already intimidating process. Therefore I hope you found the above tips helpful in making that decision and in learning how to take care of your natural hair.

    Remember, as nerve-wracking as going natural can be, it is also a really fun process! You get to experience your natural texture, try new products and styles, and figure out what works for you. So don’t forget to have fun in the process!


If you enjoyed this article, check out my blog on How to Make Your Hairstyles Last Longer!

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