Thinking about going natural? Should you Big Chop or Transition Slowly? Let’s explore the options.
According to GCI Magazine, “The natural hair look is trending for both African Americans and Hispanics. After the craze of the keratin-straightening system, the current natural trend, which is stronger than ever among minority groups, is all about liberating hair’s natural curls. As a result, many consumers are Transitioning from a relaxed to a natural look.”
The reemergence of natural hair has spread largely for two reasons: a desire to improve health by eliminating caustic chemicals in the body and an interest in embracing cultural origins. Filmmaker Zina Saro-Wiwa made a New York Times short film about it.
Sandra, an IT professional in Atlanta, decided to go natural nine years ago after doing research about toxic chemicals found in relaxers. She went natural twice, first Transitioning or growing out the relaxer, the second with the more drastic haircut known as the “big chop.” The first time, she went to weekly salon visits for flat-iron and blow dry services.
“I did that for about a year and then I visited another salon, where I planned to transition from wearing my hair straight to wearing textured natural styles,” she says. “But once I got to the salon and talked with the stylist, I decided to do the big chop. My hair is extremely thick and I didn’t want to commit to the dryer time needed for Transitioning styles. It was the right decision too because I found the big chop to be extremely liberating”
How you go natural is a personal choice. Filmmaker Zino Sara Wiwa even made a documentary detailing the whole process.
Carol, a Finance professional by day and mom and wife by night, decided that Transitioning is really the best route. “Going from long hair that is straight to natural hair that is short can be very traumatic for someone, I wish I had transitioned more gradually to give myself more time to learn about this new texture and understand what I was getting myself into”
Marquita, who has been natural for three years, agrees that while the Big chop was best for her. It is easier for ladies with short hair who are comfortable with a short length, whose only real adjustment comes in managing a new texture.
Transitioning to natural hair means taking an average of twelve (12) months to grow-out your textured hair and gradually cutting off straight pieces. If you want to transition to natural without the Big Chop, choose styles to blend the new growth with the straight ends. Both have challenges and benefits. The Big chop is perfect for those who like to jump in with both feet or simply do not wish to manage multiple textures. Big chopping avoids lengthy drying times and weekly visits to the salon.
There are also cases whereTransitioning is not an option due to the condition of the hair. Broken off, thinner straight textured pieces cannot remain in place for twelve months. Ladies who are more involved in an athletic activity may find the Big chop to better suit their lifestyle needs.
Factors to consider for the Big Chop or Transitioning
- Hair density. How thick or fine in volume your hair is will be a key factor in determining what is the best route for you. Finer textured hair may find transitioning to be a breeze where curlies with thicker tresses may find it easier to Big chop.
- The condition of relaxed ends. If the straight hair is too weak to be manipulated without breaking, this will lead to hair loss, including a loss of the natural hair growing in.
- Comfort with short hair. If you are a lady who likes to wear it short or long then the world is your oyster. Chop away!
- Comfort with styling two (or more) textures. Keep in mind that this will be like detangling the hair twice
- Flexibility to visit the salon on a weekly basis. Transitioning to natural hair is definitely easier when left in the hands of a textured hair professional.
Know the grow-out phases of transitioning
Deciding to go natural without cutting off all of your straightened hair at once allows you to play with different styles and get reacquainted with your true texture. It’s perfect for allowing you to decide what works best with your overall lifestyle. This also works well if you have been comfortable with longer hair during this time, as opposed to short hair.
A third way to transition is by using gentle, loose protective styles such as flat-twists, flexi-rod sets or Bantu-knots. Sew-in weaves, crotchet braids or kinky twists with extensions should only be used in moderation and not worn for more than two weeks at a time (although we know some of you are wearing those styles longer than that). We recommend two weeks because this allows you to keep the scalp cleansed with is key for growth and keep the hair shaft hydrated with weekly shampoos and treatments.
Wearing tighter styles for an extended period of time leaves new growth very dry, more wiry and thinner than it would be with a Big Chop or looser transitioning styles. Braids are not always good for transitioning, as they can promote hair loss from tension alopecia and dryness.
The phases of transitioning involve learning how to manage two different textures of hair. The thicker your natural texture, the more it is important to be gentle. This means taking the time to detangle both straight and natural sections of the hair separately with new growth first, using a wide tooth detangling comb and creamy conditioner, then the straight hair with a lightweight, water-based detangler and wide-tooth detangling comb.
Different textures need different care or breakage will be inevitable. As the new growth increases, most naturals find that transitioning styles last longer and hair become easier to manage. Sometimes you can do a hybrid Big-Chop by cutting off half of the straight hair and mimicking your textured tresses with flat-twists, Bantu-knots or flexi-rods in the front.
In addition, regular trims or a non-Big chop haircut is a good idea to shorten the transitioning time as you get more comfortable with your new life as a textured natural.
What to Expect with A Big Chop
If you decide that the Big Chop is the way to go, here is what you can expect. If you are used to wearing your hair in an updo or a bun or wearing a short style, there will be very little adjustment for you. The focus will be on defining your curls and maximizing the moisture in them. During this time, most naturals are thinking about choosing the right products for lasting curl definition. It’s important to infuse as much moisture in your routine shampoo and conditioner especially if you are experimenting with lots of styling products at this special time. Be sure to remain consistent with shampooing, conditioning and deep conditioning.
We recommend having your Big chop done at a natural hair salon with scissors instead of clippers. This is a special experience that should be handled with the care that a licensed cosmetologist can give. The way the hair is shaped matters and affects your styling and hair behavior. Sharp scissors provide the best finish on your ends, preventing dryness and split ends as it grows.
As you embark on your natural hair journey, Urbanbella is here to guide and educate you. We customize programs that will assist you in making the right decision for your lifestyle as well as provide the products and services you need.
Please visit our website to see the collection of products that have been handcrafted for women with natural hair. We look forward to serving you.