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Jun 21, 2024

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So you’ve decided you’re going to do it – return natural. That’s great! But now you have to decide how you’re going to go about it. Would you dive right in by doing the big chop or take it slow with transitioning? Both have their advantages but regrets might follow if you jump on an option without first weighing the pros and cons. So in this article, we’ll take a look at all you need to know when deciding whether to big chop or transition.

Is the big chop for me?

To do the “big chop” (BC) means to cut off, at one go, all of your relaxed hair and begin your natural hair journey with the forthcoming new growth. Many women prefer this method and for good reasons. But as we’ll also see, it’s all about circumstances and perspective.

Perks of doing the big chop

Not everyone has the patience to transition long-term and give their hair proper care while at it. Doing the big chop is a straightforward and direct way of going natural. All you have to do is spend a few minutes cutting off your relaxed hair and that’s it – you’re a natural already.

Since you chop off all your relaxed hair and immediately begin with your natural hair, you have only your natural hair texture to deal with. This removes the need for extra care paid to two different textures and the point where they meet. Therefore, it is relatively easier to deal with natural hair from a big chop than that which was transitioned from chemically-processed hair.

Because you have only one texture, it will take a shorter period to learn your hair’s characteristics, such as its texture, porosity, and density. And this would make it easier to quickly identify the right products for your hair, early in your journey. You are thus less likely to spend money buying and trying unsuitable products for your hair type.

This is another benefit that comes with dealing with only your natural hair texture. Your hair is likely to take in products better and you don’t risk having one part absorb the products while they sit on the rest of the length of your hair. Also, styles will come out better when you do them on all-natural hair than on transitioning hair.

There’s a feeling of freedom that comes with cropping all of your hair – once you get past the realization that your hair is really gone. Many women who have returned natural by doing the big chop have said they loved the confidence that came with it. Since it takes courage to big chop, some feel braver to take up more challenges after they cut their hair. It’s almost like Coco Chanel said – a woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.

Downsides of the big chop

We’re not going to lie to you, even when you’re completely sure about the big chop and have no regrets, you’re going to miss your hair sometimes. This will be especially so if you have always had long hair. And so, it might take a while to get used to having all of your length gone. But that’s okay because, with proper care, your hair will start thriving in no time.

As if chopping off your hair is not daunting enough, people are likely to make it worse with negative comments so it’s best you prepare. Not everyone, including friends, family members, and even strangers would fancy the idea of you carrying your hair short. And some have no problem being vocal about it. The truth, however, is that not all women who do the big chop experience this.

So if you’re going to do the big chop, be open to expect both the good and bad; and be determined to close your ears to negative comments. And the good thing is that once you get past the disparaging remarks, you boost your confidence greatly.

Having short hair is one thing and having long or medium-length hair is another. But that awkward-length stage between short and medium? That’s a tough stage to deal with. If you do the big chop, this stage is inevitable. Thankfully, there are styles that are perfect on awkward-length hair, such as puffs and Bantu knots. Now is the stage you get to start rocking them.

Should I consider transitioning?

The second option you have is to stop using relaxers and let your natural hair (at this stage called scab hair) grow out without cutting off your relaxed hair. While some women choose to do this for a while (anywhere from a few weeks to a few years) and then cut off what is left of their relaxed ends, others prefer to trim a few inches off at regular intervals until they are completely natural. Yet some would rather care for their new growth until it grows out completely. Again, circumstances and perspective.

The pros of transitioning are that it addresses the shortcomings of the big chop, while its cons are highlighted in the advantages of doing the big chop as seen above. Besides those already discussed, here are the perks and downside of transitioning.

Perks of transitioning

If you don’t have severely damaged hair and would rather take things slow than dive right in, then transitioning is for you. There’s no need to rush and by transitioning, you can take all the time you need to ease yourself into your natural hair journey.

Women who transition don’t have to worry about being asked why they cut all their hair off or why they look like a man. So if you’re not one for the side talks, you might want to seriously consider transitioning. After all, you get to keep your length and you can still wear your hair in decent transitioning styles that show your length.

Downside of transitioning

When you transition, you have your relaxed ends, your natural roots, and that fragile line of demarcation between them to care for. This could be tough. Transitioning might not be for you if you wouldn’t have the patience to handle both textures with care. This does not mean that those who big chop get to roughly handle their hair; natural hair requires care regardless of the means a person becomes natural. Transitioning naturalistas, however, need to pay extra care.

Final Thoughts: Should you do a big chop or transition?

Only the individual who seeks to return natural can answer this question. As with virtually everything else, there is no “one size fits all” in natural hair care. The big chop is perfect for you if you love short hair and want to rock your tweeny-weeny-afro (TWA). Whereas, transitioning is your best bet if you want to live the best of both worlds. However, if you have severely damaged hair, it would be a better choice to cut it all off and start your journey on the right footing. Whatever the case is, be sure to weigh in the costs by considering your circumstances against both options before deciding which would be the better route to take in your journey.

Did you do the big chop or transition? Let us know!