The Big Chop is the process of cutting off the relaxed or permed ends of one’s hair when one is transitioning from chemically processed/ heat damaged hair to natural hair.
Personally, I made the decision to transition my hair back to natural last year (I had been getting relaxers monthly from the age of 10). My last relaxer was in September 2015 and from then on I was on a mission to grow out my hair thick and healthy before I finally chopped off the dead relaxed ends.
However there are five things you should take into consideration when timing the big chop:
- Growth rate – The average base growth rate of one’s hair is 1/2 an inch per month or 6 inches a year. However in reality the natural growth rate of everyone’s hair is individual and can be either faster or slower than this average and this is something that you have to learn to accept.
- Shrinkage – It may take an extremely long time for your length to show due to the shape of the hair strands.
Afro-Carribbean Hair tends to form dense coils or kinks, which can cause the hair when dry to shrink up to 75% of it’s true length. Your hair is growing, but the shrinkage (whilst a great indicator of healthy hair) is not your friend when it comes to showcasing length.
- Your Diet – You are what you eat. If you don’t eat well your hair won’t reach it’s maximum potential. It’s as simple as that. And eating shittily and taking 20 vitamins a day to make up the deficiency doesn’t work – believe me I’ve tried. I’ve heard (and used) every single excuse under the sun:
- “Healthy food is expensive”
- “Ain’t nobody got time to be doing Nigella everyday”
Eating the right foods keeps your body working at it’s peak and will cause a general upswing in your overall health. Nobody’s asking you to become a vegan or only eat only organic food (lol student finance has evaporated, ain’t nobody got money for that) or avoid McDonalds and all fast food establishments like the plague. But really in the end, this journey follows the same rule as everything in life – the effort you put in determines what you receive.
4. 2 Litres a day to keep the dryness away – Moisturised hair is happy hair. However this doesn’t just mean slathering product on your hair. Ingesting water is also essential for growth & health. If your body is dehydrated then your hair will be brittle, dry and crunchy with stunted growth.5. Styling – How are you gonna style your hair? Most of us have commitments whether they are university, societies, part time jobs, sports, etc. Therefore you have to make sure that your hair isn’t going to interfere with everything else you’ve got going on. Whether you’re walking around with a TWA ( teeny weeny afro) or mid-back locks, you need to be prepared to know how to style your own hair (even if it’s very basic). The more length that you have, then the lazier you can afford to be, but for all of us walking around with short afros – your hair has to look on point every single day as there’s not a lot of it. There are many, many brilliant resources out there:
- Watch YouTube videos,
- read natural hair blogs,
- hell even stalk people’s tumblr & instagram pages for tips
It doesn’t matter whether you’re doing a wash ‘n’ go, individual braids or merely packing it away in a headscarf – you need to have some kind of strategy. Because once you cut the hair off, then it’s gone for good.
Growing up I was very confined as to how I could dress, what hairstyles I could wear, etc. So it was an empowering moment when I finally mustered up the courage to just do it. Yes – I freaked out and hid for a couple of days; but eventually I realised that my hair didn’t mean I was less of a woman or a person and that my hair did not define me or my character. And to someone who grew up so restricted, making this change has in many ways made me a lot more confident in myself and my appearance – what you see is what you get.
PS. – please use actual hair scissors or shears. Using the wrong scissors could cause split ends and therefore uneeded setbacks in your hair journey.
Whether you do it immeadiately, wait a couple months or even years before you break out the scissors – when it happens is entirely up to you. All I will say is that you will know when the time is right – don’t let anyone else dictate it to you.
*cover image is courtesy of @naturalhairluv on Instagram