Choosing to go natural after years of having your hair relaxed is a big decision to make for many.
It’s very much a personal journey that you can only make o your own. This is something that I have discovered from personal experience.
I have “been natural” twice in my life and both times the journey was very different.
The first time I was natural I did it because everyone else was, the second time was a completely different experience because I wanted it for myself.
It didn’t matter to me what everyone else was doing this time around. I just knew that this was the right thing for me to do.
I say all this to assure you that if you have made the decision to embrace your natural hair then it should be an experience that is personal you and you only.
That goes for if you decide to big chop or transition too.
No matter which way you decide to go there are only one of two options that you can choose and that is what we will look into a little more.
Big chop or transition?
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What is the big chop?
When you first hear about the big chop it sounds like something you need to be running far away from.
The big chop, in fact, means that you have decided to cut off all of your relaxed hair and start your natural hair journey with brute force even if that means you are starting with 2mm of hair.
Some people start right from a level one haircut and others wait until they are due their next relaxer before deciding to chop off all the relaxer.
What does it mean to transition?
Transitioning from relaxed to natural means that you are giving yourself time for your natural hair to grow out before becoming fully natural.
There is no initial cutting off of the relaxed hair.
There is no set time for how long you can transition for. Some people will transition for a couple of months and some people will long term transition over the course of years.
Transitioning means that you will slowly trim away your relaxed hair until you are left with nothing but natural.
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There are obvious pros and cons to both the big chop and transitioning which is why I have said that it is a personal journey.
Depending on your character only you can know which will be better for you so let’s take a look at the pros and cons of both methods.
The differences between the big chop and transitioning
The big chop
The second time that I went natural I decided to big chop. It wasn’t a decision that I thought about over the course of days or even weeks. I just did it one day because I was that serious about being able to discover more about my natural hair.
I was so grateful for the big chop experience because after I had cut off all of my relaxer I felt a liberation that I have only ever experienced once before which was when I gave birth naturally. It was an experience that I just would not be able to put into appropriate words.
Doing the big chop allows you to immediately start your natural hair journey and discover what your hair does and does not like.
The big chop also gives you a jump start on learning how to manage your natural hair in a way that you just would not be able to do if you were to transition.
You also get to feel like a new you. There is almost a rebirth moment that takes place. It’s a great time to discover who you really are and who you really want to be.
No more running in the opposite direction of water because natural hair LOVES water and NEEDS water!
If your hair is already very damaged this is a great time to start again and make things right.
There are never pros without some cons too. There are most definitely cons when it comes to doing the big chop.
Once you have big chopped there is no going back afterwards, you are in the deep end and that’s it.
If you don’t have enough knowledge about natural hair before you big chop you could find yourself in a bit of a state not knowing how to manage your hair.
Many people are put off from doing the big chop because they fear what they will look like with a TWA (teeny weeny afro) To be fair its a legitimate fear to have but it’s not one that should consume you.
Do what works for you not what you think others will think of you.
Another thing to think about is that if you are used to working with long hair it can be really difficult to now have short hair on your hands. It might not sound like a big deal but it is.
Trying to find hairstyles that are quick and easy to do can be difficult so you might find yourself all over youtube looking at different ways to style your new hair.
There’s only so many times that an afro puff is fun.
If you are really worried about not knowing what to do with short hair you can consider a tapered cut or some other hairstyles shown here.
The first time that I transitioned I did so for about a year before I become fully naturally. Whist I now know that this wasn’t really a personal decision for me but more of a follow the crowd type of thing I did learn a lot during my few years of being natural.
The great thing about transitioning is that you get to keep the length of your hair without having to worry too much about what to do with it.
You can take your time to transition meaning that there is absolutely no pressure on you what so ever. You don’t even need to tell anyone that you are going natural if you don’t want to.
Transiting means that you get to control how long or short you want your hair to be. I know that is a big plus for some women.
This shouldn’t really be a factor but I know that it is for some. Perhaps not as much anymore but a few years ago it was a big thing when women decided to become natural because their partners just didn’t get it and it would sometime cause arguments. #truestory
By transitioning you allow your partner to gradually get used to you having natural hair. The change is not as evident.
One of the major cons that people face when deciding to transition is the fact that you have to deal with two textures. It can be hard because there is no perfect way to look after both parts of your hair.
You may also experience a lot of breakage at the point to demarkation which is the point where your natural hair and your relaxed hair meets.
Finding products that will work on both natural hair and relaxed hair can be a struggle.
If your natural hair is a lot kinkier than your relaxed hair there may be an extreme difference in your hair textures that people can easily notice. This may not be ideal for work purposes. You may even be forced to straighten your natural hair to disguise the difference which could cause you breakage if you don’t know how to handle it properly.
Transitioning from relaxed can also feel like a very long journey to make as you constantly have to make provision for both textures. It can make the journey feel frustrating.
Its also a lot harder to learn about your natural hair this way.
Water could very well become your nemesis during this period. Relaxed hair doesn’t particularly need water and natural hair thrives on it.
Final thoughts on the big chop or transitioning
No matter which option you decide to go for you should be happy and comfortable with it.
The first time I was natural I didn’t know what I was doing and I became frustrated with my natural hair which lead me to eventually go back to the relaxer.
If you make the decision to transition and you later find that it just isn’t working for you, you can always change your mind and go for the big chop instead.
What did you decide? Big chop or transition?