Before doing any research, the first question every woman who considers transitioning asks is “Do you have to cut your hair to go natural?” Whether they are familiar with the term ‘big chop’ or not, most ladies fear being forced into cutting their hair into a short afro. Adjusting to rocking non-straight hair can be difficult enough but to add being uncomfortable in a short cut….its enough to make many abandon the idea of going natural.
I’m one of those women. Well, partially. Of course, I knew you didn’t HAVE to cut your hair to transition to natural hair, however I also understood that many ladies cut before they are ready because they find the process too difficult and end up with a TWA (teeny weeny afro) anyway. I did NOT want that to be me. After all….my blog is called Longing 4 Length so short hair is definitely not me.
I also knew I was not, am not, nor will I ever be anti-relaxer. Everyone has varying motivations for going relaxer-free…mine wasn’t because I believe relaxers to equal damaged hair, nor am I unfamiliar with my natural texture (I didn’t receive my first relaxer until high school), nor do I have any daughters for whom I’d like to be an example through my hair. I don’t think relaxed hair is subscribing to a European standard of beauty or denouncing my blackness. I’m not so anxious to be a part of the “movement” of natural hair that I am even committing to it for life. Every woman has a reason, and for each woman – those reasons are completely valid and shouldn’t be forced on anyone else. But for me…I simply found MY hair to have lost its thickness and ability to grow to my goal length while relaxing. Simple. That’s it.
So, I transitioned to natural hair without doing the big chop. I’m currently 21 and a half months post relaxer and plan to get my final trim (or cut) in September at the two year mark. Without further adieu, check out my transitioning journey, from the beginning in the video at the top of the post…you’ll be able to see where and why I started plus the styles and challenges I faced.
Tips On How to Transition to Natural Hair Without The Big Chop:
- Accept that your transition experience is your own. This may seem obvious as everyone’s hair is different – in texture, length, porosity, etc. But aside from actual hair differences, other things affect your transition. Your styling repetoire may not match your fave hair crush. For example, I was great at flexirods on my relaxed hair and although Jeni of Just Grow Already and KLP of Saving Our Strands did spiral sets pretty much throughout their transitions….I just could NOT do a flexirod or curlformer set to save my life! Your patience level will be different also. Some ladies are comfortable waiting years to grow their natural hair out, others get frustrated and decided to cut sooner than expected. Going into your transition with the understanding that you probably won’t be able to follow someone else’s journey exactly will save you trouble in the long run.
- Master at least one style. Don’t get overly excited and try to do everything at once! The key to transitioning is manipulating as little as possible. Work with your texture to learn one style that will be your easy, go-to look so you don’t lose patience experimenting every wash day.
- Ignore the pressure! If all the long-term transitioners had a dollar for every time they were told to ‘just cut their hair already’, we could all buy a mini island and live out the rest of our days doing absolutely nothing. If you are determined to transition with out the big chop, don’t allow yourself to be pressured into cutting before you are ready.
- Don’t freak out at those “thin” ends. The more natural hair you grow, the worse your relaxed ends will appear. It’s okay….really. Those ends won’t be the death of you, trust me. Just go back to that one style you mastered to help blend both textures. Once your style is complete, the difference will be barely detectable!