big chop

How to Go Natural: The Big Chop

If you’re thinking about going natural, you have likely heard or read about people doing a “big chop.” What does that mean exactly and is it the only way to go natural? What if you have a big head or don’t like short hair? Read on for some helpful tips.

Chopping off all your hair is only one way to go natural

First things first – no, chopping all your hair off at once isn’t the only way to go natural. You can also transition to natural hair by trimming off your permed ends little by little and allowing your natural roots to grow out until there is eventually no permed hair left.

There are some drawbacks to transitioning, such as caring for and styling two textures of hair, which sometimes extreme breakage. However, it does help some people “ease in” to wearing natural hair.

Lots of women are absolutely terrified to wear their hair short – we feel like our heads are too big, our faces are too fat or round, we worry we will look more masculine than we want to, and on and on.

Doing a big chop can really help you get comfortable with that big noggin (shout out to my big head crew). That being said, if it’s going to keep you holding onto a relaxer you don’t even want anymore, by all means go the transitioning route.

What is “the big chop”?

A big chop is usually thought of as cutting off most of your hair, which is usually relaxed, and wearing your hair natural. Typically, a big chop will leave you with no more than an inch or two of hair, usually referred to as a teeny weeny afro (TWA).

People sometimes refer to cutting off the majority of their natural hair due to damage as a big chop as well.

How to do the big chop

Look for inspiration

If you’re thinking about doing a big chop, you have probably already admired women with short natural hair. Make a mental note of those women. Cut pictures out of magazines and bookmark YouTube videos. Check out our short natural hairstyles board on Pinterest, and our roundup of TWA styling ideas.

All of these things will help give you the push you need to go ahead with the chop, as well as encouraging you after you do.

After the initial excitement of a big chop, it can honestly take a bit of getting used to especially if you’ve never had short hair. When you need a bit of a boost, look for inspiration in other naturals with a similar hair type and length.


Get your products ready

The last thing you want is to go natural and have nothing on hand to care for your newly minted fro. Choose a few products to start with and have them ready to go when you decide to take the leap.

You don’t need a lot – a moisturizing shampoo, conditioner, leave-in, and moisturizing styler is plenty. You can always experiment with other products over time.

You will also want to pick up a few natural hair care tools.

Ok, I’m ready to big chop! How do I do it?

First, you want to prepare your hair.

Stop getting relaxers. Allow your new growth to grow in for as little as a week or two and as much as several months depending on how long you want your hair to be when you cut it. The longer you wait to cut your relaxed ends, the more your hair will become prone to breakage, so always be sure to closely monitor when caring for your hair.

After you have waited as long as you’d like to, you’re ready to do your big chop!

Wet your hair from a spray bottle, or do your chop on freshly washed, damp hair. This will encourage your natural hair to coil so that the difference in texture will be obvious.

Section your hair with clips, and begin trimming the straight ends, section by section. It can be helpful to have a supportive friend or family member help you cut the back.

At this point, you will be mostly free of your relaxer, but your hair will likely be pretty uneven. You have three options to deal with this: 1) let it be and refine the shape over time, 2) buy your own clippers and even it out or 3) go to a barbershop or salon and have them give you a professional trim.

Cutting your own hair with clippers is definitely less expensive and time-consuming in the long run. It also empowers you to keep your cut sharp if you so choose without having to depend on a stylist. Cutting your own hair is also super easy if you’re ok with having it all one length. You simply put on the guard for the length you want, say 1/4″, and go to town. Glide it over your head and you’re golden. Shaping up your edges if you choose to do that isn’t much harder, but it does take some practice.

If you go to a barber or stylist, make absolutely certain that they are experienced with doing the type of haircut you want. Do you want a shape up? A fade? You want to make sure your professional is experienced with the specific look you want.

I Big Chopped! Now what?

So, all your hair is gone. You’re feeling excited about your new look, but also a little…exposed. Remember those Pinterest boards and magazine clippings and YouTube videos? Now is the time to pull those up and marinate in all of the natural goodness.

Get out your favorite earrings and take the first step toward embracing yourself in all of your natural glory. Pat yourself on the back for saying goodbye to techniques, products, and styles that were no longer serving you. Step forward into this new phase of your journey.