Natural Hair Growth and the Big Chop
I receive questions from women who have done the Big Chop (BC) as the beginning of their path to natural hair growth. For those unfamiliar with the term, a Big Chop is the process of cutting off all chemically processed hair so there is only natural hair. Some people transition, for a couple of months and have a couple of inches of natural hair when they BC. Or, they may shave their hair to a close cut and start from a pixie style.
How did I transition?
Because of my face shape, a BC scared me. I also was young when I stopped relaxing and there was an emotional aspect to the process as well. Where I lived, long hair was the acceptable look for girls. This rule was established by boys and therefore girls accepted it. So unless you had a Halle Berry face, a pixie was a no-no. ( And only Halle Berry has a Halle Berry face)
That's why for those ladies, especially the younger ones who do the BC, words can't describe how strong you are. Because once you do it, there will be people who can't help but give their five cents (instead of two of course) about your new style.
So I would blow dry my roots and trim every couple of weeks until my natural hair was the only type of hair I had. I know the heat damage that I inflicted on my hair was traumatic. I think I’m still dealing with it now because I have a lot of breakage and short hairs despite the trims that I did earlier last year. My solution is to grow my hair out to its longest length and to let all the short hairs that I have grow out as well.
What do you think?
However, what are your ideas about it? Over ten years ago, I decided to transition from my relaxer. Although my hair dresser at the time told me that if I wanted to do so, I had to shave my sides, then cut my hair in a certain style and then I could start to transition. It was weird, because now that I think back to it, that may have been a scare tactic on her part, since she was applying my relaxer every couple of months. And, unless a hair dresser specializes or understands natural hair, there are those who do not like dealing with the thick mass that natural hair is. While I loved the "oohs" and "aaahs" I received while sitting in the chair from other ladies in the salon, I’ve had stylists who made dirty looks at my hair… not me, but my hair (trust me, I saw it in the mirrors).
So are you for the BC or against it? Send me what you think and upon review, your stories will be published.
I did the BC about two weeks ago and I am still getting used to it. I love the freedom from being a slave to my relaxed hair as well as the high expenses of salons. I feel really beautiful some days but others I wonder Lol. I am really trying to get in touch with who I am and the natural beauty that I possess. I love my natural hair but am still getting acquainted. --Krispy
I am scared, but I am leaning toward it. I have been transitioning since Nov. 08 and gave myself a year to see how I like it. I must say I am surprised by the texture of my natural hair and curious how it will look with the dead ol limp perm off, but like many of you I am scared! I have always had long hair and think the short do may not be "me." I do want to try it and Miss Jessie's products, but I need the perm off in order to get the full effect. I am with you all girls who are contemplating and scared. I feel you 110%. I will post again when I go through with it, maybe I can inspire someone else to take the plunge. I like this site! --Dana
I must admit I am terrified and excited at the same time. I've been cowering behind cornrows for a month now. I have been relaxer free for 16 months but just considered going natural for the past month. I've flirted with the idea for yrs...always admiring natural hair on black women. There is a strength and and indescribable beauty involved. I'm going to do the big chop this week...stay tuned. --Toi
I got my last relaxer in September '07. Since then I have been pressing my roots and wearing my hair straight. This summer I decided to stop with the heat and do twist outs, braid outs, etc to see if I can manage. I have about 6-8 inches of curly hair and 2-3 inches of straight still on the ends. I don't think I can do the big chop! I have always had long hair and even when I was relaxing, my hair was always healthy. Right now I don't see a reason to cut off the straight, other than I really want to see my hair in all it's glory. I do have some heat damaged areas that will not curl though so only cutting off the straight is not an option without cutting A LOT! It takes a lot of guts to go ahead with the BC. --Sharron
First I must say that I just discovered your site last Friday and am now a faithful follower. Thanks for sharing your info. Please visit me at http://kinkyrhonnie.blogspot.com. The big chop was definitely liberating for me. I transitioned for close to six months and that was TOO long. lol I couldn't wait to cut the relaxer out but had a big team gathering coming up so I held on to them two inches of relaxed hair for dear life because I didn't want to have my hair be a topic of conversation at the dinner table. Once I cut those relaxed ends off, I felt so FREE. I wanted to dance and sing knowing that I was no longer a slave to the chemicals and would no longer be bound to a styling salon for five hours every two weeks. Also, I was receiving a relaxer every six weeks and side/back touchups every four weeks post relaxer so I was spending over $1200 a year on WHIMPY hair. LOL --Rhonda
As for me it was completely LIBERATING and also spiritual, now as for my husband.... Now that is a different story,we have an appointment in the morning with the therapist, for real. I LOVE my natural hair, I did "THE BIG CHOP" and YES it takes LOTS of courage and a very thick skin!!!! --Melinda
I'm scheduled to do the Big Chop in a week. I've been itching to cut the perm off but I'm also scared. My last perm was July 2008. From sight, I think I have about 2-4 inches of natural hair (depending on the place on my head). Although it sounds silly, I'm afraid of being less beautiful and not liking my look until it grows out more. However, this process is exciting and new. I think it'll feel good to finally complete the process by cutting my hair. Now I'm looking up styles and hair care/products for my new look. I'm looking forward to learning my hair in the state it's supposed to be in, how it naturally grows. --Lanisekiss
I think that a lot of women look absolutely stunning with short hair. In fact I love short hair, and I am totally for the "Big Chop".....on other people. Lol! At one point I thought nothing of cutting my hair. In fact, I could not stay away from the scissors. I loved the short pixie (Halle Berry) haircut. That was my staple style for a while. However, half of my family hated it! They made me feel bad about it. Some friends liked it, some didn't. I also found out that most guys preferred the long hair on me. As a result, I became insecure about it, and now feel comfortable only with long hair. I have been transitioning for 8 months now. However, because of my insecurities, I have not been able to do the "big chop". I think I need encouragement and a little bit of hand holding :-) Hurrayyyyyy to all of you who have done the big chop!!! --Emma
I haven't gone through the big chop but I am in the transition of going natural and it's challenging for me. I am only 16 years old so it's hard sometimes seeing my peers with beautiful, long, relaxed, hair; each head makes me doubt whether I should follow through. I know that it will take time for my hair to be the way that I want it to be, but I enjoy sites like this and articles like this because it makes my transition easier to go through. Knowing that there are others who feel the same way I do helps a lot and makes me want to continue my natural journey! --Tiffani
I was against the big chop. I wore my hair in micro mini braids with the intent to gradually transition to natural. When I took the braids out and washed my hair, it knotted. Badly. I conditioned it four times and the knots would not come out. I had four big knots in the middle of my head (where my hair was the longest) and many smaller knots throughout the rest of my hair. I went to a salon for professional help. The stylist said she had never seen hair knotted so badly. She had to cut the knots out. I sat in shock as I watched her cut my hair. I am in week one of my forced big chop. I am ashamed to say that I have been having such a hard time seeing my hair this short that I have been surviving by wearing wigs :( I hope to stop with the wigs once I have a few inches of growth. --Brianna
During my senior year of high school, a classmate dared me to cut my hair. So, being the dare devil that I am, I did. My hair was about 2 inches long, and I loved it! At that time I texturized monthly, and dyed bi-weekly. I didn't get any beef about my 'do from my hometown peeps, but when I entered college, the circumstances changed.
In 2000, short hair on young women in the south wasn't really common, especially if it wasn't straight hair. You were automatically considered homosexual. I even had to go to a barber for styling. It was very embarrassing when he tried to shape my sideburns. Ugh! Being insecure, I immediately made plans to grow my hair out, and go full-out natural. However, I was a slave to heat. I preferred neat hairstyles, so I would blow dry the ends of my hair to rock a blow-out. This was repeated 2-3 times a week. It was fly. Unfortunately, after 4 years my hair barely touched my collar bones. I went back to a relaxer, and my hair cursed me daily.
My last relaxer was Nov. 2006, and I did the BC March 2009. My then stylist advised me to wait, but once my mind is made up, time for waiting is over. My last heat style was Feb. 2009, thanks in part to the extreme split ends my hair suffered from a marcel iron pressing from that same stylist. When I went in for my bc ( a natural hair care specialist), I didn't realize that most of the relaxed ends were already chopped off. I had been getting trims every six weeks since Nov. The straight parts that I had mistaken as relaxed hair was in fact heat-damaged hair, about a full inch and a half.
It felt so good to rid myself of those last strands. I've been following the advice of several curlies, and I have experienced the same amount of growth that took 3 1/2 years for me to acquire during my first attempt in only 2. I'm very excited about this journey. Thanks for this blog. --Nan
I'm 16 yrs old, and I live in London. I love reading about the BC and watching videos about people who have done it. They've inspired me to do the same.
I have relaxed my hair twice in the past, and got bored of it...I miss my soft hair. It changed the texture of my hair completely...people still tell me it is soft, but that is only due to the creams I use.
I have been thinking about doing the BC for some weeks now...I've told my close friends and my whole family, and at the end of the day, it is my head and I will do what I want with it. I am quite prepared for the laughs from some of the girls in my school, but I guess life is too short to be that worried about it. I am excited but verrrrry scared.
My hair isn't that long, and I am worried that after the BC, it won't grow. I personally believe that women that go through with the BC are strong and look beautiful...natural hair in my school isn't that fawned over...people are shocked if you are black and you have long hair..especially if you are dark skinned. I know this is a long post, just wanted to air out my views on BCs lol. --Isioma
I big chopped in Mar 09. I stopped relaxing my hair in January but wasn't really thinking of going natural. I just got lazy and hadn't been to a hairdresser! I had wanted to go natural for a long time but was afraid because I didn't know what my hair would look like or how I would take care of it. (side note: how sad is it that we know what products to use for relaxed hair but not for our own, beautiful natural hair??) So, I decided instead of scheduling another relaxer I'd be brave and cut off my relaxed hair.
I started by cutting off a huge chunk from the front of my head. There was no going back after that! I left about 4 inches of relaxed hair just so I could keep it braided until my natural hair grew longer...that lasted about a week. I got frustrated very quickly dealing with 2 textures so I had my husband shave my head. I was left with about an inch of hair.
To be honest, I didn't like how short it was but only because I looked like a boy! However, I couldn't keep my hands out of my hair. Wow...curls!! I was so excited the first time I washed my hair and let it air dry. I was euphoric at all the little curls springing up on my head. I haven't put heat on my head since. I'm slowly learning what works for my hair (though I have SO much more to learn).
I recently purchased some unrefined shea butter and virgin coconut oil. My hair has never been so soft. Shea butter is a godsend. Last night I compared some photos that I took the day after I cut my hair and 4 weeks later. I was convinced it wasn't growing because looking at it every day is like watching grass grow. You can't see it! When I compared the photos, however, I was pleasantly surprised at the growth. My hair is growing faster now than it ever did with a relaxer...and it's only been a month! I don't regret cutting my hair at all. I can't wait for it to get longer so I can start playing with it. My only regret is that I didn't do this a year ago...or two years ago...or a decade ago! --Tara
For me The Big Chop was wonderful. I didn't realize how liberated, confident and happy it would make me feel. I've cut my hair before, but it was short and relaxed. This time was not the same. I felt and feel wonderful. It's about 1/2 inch (unstretched) and already noticeably growing, less than a week later. My hair has always grown very fast, but it broke just as quickly. Hubby wants me to grow it out, so I will. My goal is a head full of wild crazy curls that represent me and my culture, not someone else's. --Jerushah
Big Chops are...
Interesting!! I did my BC on June 20, 2009 because I knew I wanted to go natural, and out of fear for the return to a relaxer I just decided one morning (at 2am) to cut my arm pit length hair down to 1/2 an inch of kinky curlie natural-ness. Its been about 2 months and I have about 1.5-2 inches of hair all over, but I mainly wear a wig to mask the absence of my flowing tresses. I love natural hair, and have no intentions on going back to relaxing; However I prefer longer hair, so I will fake it until I make it. :o) --Yaya84
liberating. I had to cut off all of my hair because of breast cancer. The chemotherapy started taking my hair out within 2 weeks of my first treatment. I have been cancer free since December 08. My hair started growing back in January 09. I have decided to keep it natural. I was also one of you girls with very long hair. I can tell you that once the hair was gone I did feel a sense of freedom. I decided to keep my hair natural and short. It is so easy to manage. I can wash it and get out of the house in 30 minutes with beautiful curls. When I had a relaxer it would take about 4 hours to wash, dry and style because I had about 18-20 inches of hair (very long). I honestly will not ever let my hair get that long again. I have embraced my hair and I love the length. --Andrea
Scary. I want to do the BC. I really do. I am 34 years old. All my life I have had long hair and I do mean long. I started getting relaxers because I was so tender headed and my hair would always tangle. Right now it is mid back length, below my bra strap. I have cut my hair previously. The shortest I have gone was right above my neck. I wish I would have done the BC then. I'm really scared that it won't grow back (I keep hearing the older you get, the less likely your hair will grow). I had my last relaxer just 8 weeks ago. And I am not putting one back in. It's funny- I never cry but every time I think about putting another relaxer in my hair I get teary eyed. My hair is "healthy" but I just feel like I am not completely free. I moved to a southern city and I am having a hell of a time finding a stylist who encourages going natural. My plan is to let my hair grow a little more and then go for the BC.--Bebe
the best....I cut my hair the end of March this year and went natural, last year November and every since the cut I haven't felt better about not perming it. Just to get up and go sometimes. --Keisha
liberating!! Living in the south, if you're a girl and don't have long straight hair, then you aren't as beautiful. I made the BC in May 09', at the end of my junior year in high school. I told my dad that I wanted to go natural and he told me to go for it; it's only hair and if you don't like it,it will always grow back, and I used his clippers.
Everyone thought I did it because I went off the deep end; they made huge scenes in the hallway when they saw me coming asking why, gasping, and yelling, telling me that my permed hair was so pretty and I was crazy for cutting it off. When I did the BC, I turned up some music and danced for the rest of the day; I was happier then I had ever been in my life, I finally was free!!!!! --Shanti
I'm not sure. I did my BC in March '09. The reason I did it was because I started going to a trichologist because my hair had been shedding very badly and I had what looked to me to be the beginnings of alopecia. So, After about two months of treatments I decided to just cut it off. I hadn't relaxed since the first week of March so, I had about an inch and a half of new growth.
The trichologist had already advised me that since I'm not used to natural hair (during tratments you aren't allowed to use chemicals or heat) that I may want to try wigs. Well, I've worn them before as a quick styling solution so, I wasn't bothered by having to wear them now. She was actually quite shocked when she saw that I had cut my hair.
Now, my hair has tight curls, but i have no idea what to do with it. I mold it the best I can when I wash it and cover with a sating turban underneath my wigs. It has grown to about 4 inches now, but I still don't feel comfortable with it. I have a square face and the short natural look doesn't suit me. Maybe by the end of the year it would have grown out enough to wear without my wigs. I wasn't afraid to do it, but I am anxious to have my hair back. --Theresa
Great!! I have 5 year old locs and I am sick of them, frankly. I'm ready to do the BC for a second time, since the first was 9 years ago when I got rid of my relaxed hair. I washed, but did not re-twist my locs so I can get about an inch or so of growth before the BC. I can't wait to take care of my loose, natural hair and look forward to seeing how long it will get! --Car
Scary to me.. I've been wanting to go natural for over 3 years. I have not had a perm since October 2008. I plan on wearing kinky twists or braids until this October(2009) when I can do a BC and have more natural hair. --Shoshawnna
Wonderful. I decided to do the big chop. It was scary but it is just hair. What made it easier for me was doing a marathon for people battling leukemia and lymphoma. When I thought about people having no choice in losing their hair, I cut all my hair in honor of them. And I never felt more beautiful. It was tough and people can be ignorant. But in the end... I couldn't be happier. --Jennipher
Amazing...I didn't notice my face so much until I didn't have all the hair. I never had bad skin, but now I use shea butter on my face at night. It looks great along with my lil afro puff. LOL! I love it, but I can't wait for it to grow so I can wear more styles. --Alicia
by far the most liberating thing I could've ever done. We all have fears and reservations about doing it because it's a big step. The best advice anyone can give someone about taking that leap is to do your research. Understand what it takes to keep your hair healthy after the BC and look at styles that will fit your face and make you more comfortable with your decision. You have to remember that this is all about you. No one else. I just did the BC about 11 days ago and I could not be more happy about my decision. I did for the health of my hair and the satisfaction of accepting myself. The experience seems to reintroduce you to who you really are. --Pretty Missy
liberating! I've done it many times but I'm about to take a big leap. I've been growing dreadlocks for 15 years and they hang down to my behind. I feel like a prisoner to my hair and I'm ready to be free. I must admit I am a little scared. Will I regret it? --Darlene
Hairstyles that really make you love yourself. I am 20 and have been transitioning for about six months now. I really want to do a BC since the two hair textures makes detangling my hair nearly impossible. My hair length is a little below my shoulder and I have around 2 to 3 inches of stretched natural hair. I love the texture of my natural roots and constantly play in them. I would chop off the relaxed ends today but... I have always received compliments on my relaxed hair, and am insecure about getting rid of them.
My parents are totally against me going natural, and I have a feeling the rest of my family is as well. I don't know when my BC will be; however I do know that I will never put chemicals in my hair again. One thing for sure, going natural is definitely a journey where you find and get to know your true self. Doing the big chop definitely takes strength. --Samiria
FREEING, INSPIRING, ENLIGHTENING My hair has always been long, below my bra strap, and relaxed. I don't know HOW many times I'd been asked if it was a weave...sigh. Dark-skinned sisters cannot grow hair...grrr. Had been thinking about going natural for 4 years, but the BC was holding me back, and hubby. He hated short hair.
What pushed me over, was listening to a radio show on NPR where a Dr. discussed cancer and black women -who readily put chemicals in their hair. No studies have been done regarding the effect of cancer and hair chemicals, but we tend to get more aggressive forms of diseases. Is that phenomena tied to the chemicals we slavishly use in the never ending quest for tamer, softer, longer hair? The Dr. spoke about a pediatrician in the South who had multiple cases of toddlers who were growing breasts. Turns out their mothers were using a hair care product full of estrogen to soften their kids hair. As soon as they stopped, the breasts disappeared. THAT is what ultimately pushed me to say ENUFF to my 20+ year addiction to chemicals. My last relaxer was Nov/Dec 07.
My hairdresser was sooooooo wonderful. In Feb 08 I sat in her chair and said this is my last one -- she said "why wait?" She is who encouraged me, even tho she'd be losing me as a weekly customer. She kept it in twists along my scalp with a bun in the back. In June she cut it to just below the shoulder...that was drastic, but I survived. I wanted at least 1 inch of new growth for the complete chop; by September I had it and a little more and that was it. Labor Day weekend 2008 ALL GONE. My sister was with me she loved it...hubby got used to it. I have gotten sooooooo many compliments, after the shock.
It seems more people were in love with my long locks than I...lol. People didn't recognize me. Hubby jokingly says he feels like he's robbing the cradle cause the cut does make me look younger..YEA! Six months later I have nearly four inches of new growth, and I AND hubby LOVE my natural hair. With all of the great products and info out here today, the legions of proud black women displaying their natural dos, it is sooo much easier to just say no to chemicals and relaxers. --CurlyGurl
Response to CurlyGurl-
CurlyGurl I know what you mean. I see so many natural women now. I guess that I notice them more now that I am a natural woman myself. I would definitely recommend the big chop ONLY if you are secure and confident with how you look. If you only define yourself by your hair you should transition for a year or so to gain length before chopping your hair off. :) --lee
What is your story or opinion about the Big Chop? Share it!
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...
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