The second my stylist took a hack at my heat damage and I saw 4+ inches hit the floor, I panicked. I had second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth thoughts about what I was doing. I knew going in that when I emerged from the chair, my hair would be considerably shorter than it had ever been.
I was terribly self-conscious because I had only chopped all my hair off once, and it was straight, blonde, and fly. This, this chop thing was totally different. Even though I had 21 months of growth, my hair was extremely curly and shrunken thanks to the multiple textures of my mane. But nearly 3 months later, I look back and wonder why I was so worried. Big chopping, although nearly 2 years into my transition, was the best decision I had ever made for my hair. In the world of natural hair, there are two ways to go about taking your mane from a damaged, and sometimes unhealthy mess to a head full of gorgeous kinks, coils, curls, and waves. One method is transitioning for a given amount of time, and then chopping your ends whenever you feel comfortable. The other, more gutsy method is to big chop. Big chopping involves straight up cutting all your hair off and starting from scratch. It can be exhilarating, fun, edgy....and a total nightmare. In a culture where beautiful hair is the currency, it can be absolutely difficult to feel attractive after getting rid of something you've had your whole life -- long hair. And even if prior to chopping your hair didn't go past your chin, you still had more then than you have post chop. I won't pretend to know the feeling of waking up the morning after BC-ing, and realizing that there is no more than an inch of hair atop my head. I transitioned for 21 months to avoid that very feeling. But because I chopped before my goal length, I know exactly what it feels like to have less hair than you've ever had, and to have to actively work at loving your hair and feeling beautiful.
Before you big chop:
These tips will be vital to big chopping with confidence, and being armed with information will help you navigate the first stage of your hair journey.
WILL YOU TRANSITION FIRST? FOR HOW LONG?
Most TWAers transition anywhere from 1 to 6 months to avoid a super low cut.
THE TWA STAGE
Understand how long you will be in the TWA stage. Depending on the texture, amount of shrinkage, and growth rate of your hair, the TWA stage will last anywhere from 1 to 4 years. Be prepared for that.
After you've made up your mind to chop, be sure to take the time and develop a regimen for yourself that works. Because a TWA (although thick) is not tons of hair to play with, selecting products that work well at keeping your hair moisturized, strong, and growing will be key. The TWA stage is the best time to experiment with products for moisturizing, nourishing, and styling the hair -- because if you don't like a product, doing a 2nd or 3rd wash day in a row won't be a terrible nightmare. Enjoy that product experimentation now, because as your hair grows, detangling, washing, and styling will become more time consuming.
HIDE YOUR STASH
Alongside developing your regimen, be sure to trash or put away all the things that will have you second-guessing your decision. This is a piece of advice I offer to long-term transitioners as well. If after you chop, there is still a relaxer kit somewhere in your house, throw it out. Stash your flat iron somewhere you'll forget about it, give it away, or put it in someone else's care for the time being. The same goes for hair tools you won't have any immediate need for, like scrunchies, updo clips, and even fine toothed combs. Do everything possible to prevent going back on or getting down on yourself about your decision, by removing those things from around you. Also, if you've decided to pursue an ingredient-conscious natural hair journey, be sure to chuck any products that contain ingredients you won't be using--such as isopropyl alcohol, petroleum, or mineral oil.
Once you've got your regimen together and your no-no products and tools out of sight, you're ready to have some fun with your TWA. The TWA presents a unique opportunity to be fashion forward, edgy, and daring with bold prints, bright colors, and eye-popping designs. Even if you aren't a fashionista at heart, there are certain accessories and pieces you can use to amp up the flavor and feel gorgeous --like super cute earrings, a studded headband, or dazzling statement necklace. And don't forget the makeup! You can also use your TWA time to experiment with colors and hair dye that will add richness and dimension to your cut -- especially as it grows out.
Although the TWA is less hair, the moisture from it evaporates quickly. Daily refreshers with a light water-based hair moisturizer or spritz is ideal and will keep your hair hydrated between washes.
PROTECT YOUR TWA AT NIGHT
If you aren't a big fan of satin bonnets or scarves, at least sleep on a satin pillowcase. No need in drying out the hair prematurely, and cultivating bad hair habits now!
CLARIFY, STRENGTHEN, AND DO DEEP TREATMENTS
Caring for your newly natural TWA will involve much more than cowashing and moisturizing. Make sure that at least monthly, you are using a clarifying treatment or shampoo to thoroughly cleanse your hair and scalp to remove buildup. Deep treatments will be useful in helping to nourish, moisturize, and strengthen your hair as it grows.
Be your own kind of beautiful!
This tip is above all, he most important. Define your beauty for yourself, be confident in who you are, and the decision you made. Hair grows, life goes on, and at the end of the day, you have to be comfortable in your own skin. Embrace your beauty, courage, and determination as a woman who has decided to embark on a personal and hair growth journey. You were beautiful before you cut your hair, you are beautiful with your TWA, and you will continue to be beautiful as your hair grows.