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Curly Nikki

Is it Time to Big Chop?- Natural Hair

By January 27th, 202142 Comments

Joi writes:

I’m about 5 minutes from ripping out my hair. I’ve been transitioning for 8 months and my hair is breaking off something fierce. It’s a tangled, dry mess and I’m totally clueless about what to do. I want to Big Chop but my mother, boyfriend, and close friends are not for it. I can’t take this anymore and it’s either a hair cut, or another relaxer. How do I know when I’m really ready to chop?

CN Responds:

I never Big Chopped. So I’m going to defer to the expert CN readers for this one. But truly, only you know when you’ve had enough- when you’re tired of dealing with two drastically different textures, and ridiculously long styling sessions trying to detangle and blend the natural and relaxed hair. But I can add, from my perusing the hair forums and lots of web research, that the following should be on your mind:

  • Make sure you’re doing it for yourself and no one else. You’ve gotta live with the cut.
  • Make sure you’re comfortable with the amount of hair you’re lopping off. The chop may be more drastic than you think due to shrinkage– your relaxed ends are currently weighing down your new growth, stretching the curl, and helping it to hang longer than it would otherwise.
  • Research, research, research! Know your stuff. Go into it armed with information to make the transition to a natural cropped ‘do easier. Have your tools and products on deck, and lots of favorite blog posts and youtube videos bookmarked!

There is no right or wrong time to Big Chop. It all depends on where YOU are in your journey. A hasty BC could lead to a return to the relaxer, or months of confidence issues related to your hair.

How did you know when it was time to Big Chop?


  • Paige says:

    May 19, 2012 was the day I did My Big Chop… I planned to transition for 1 year, on 5/19 it was 9 months. I had no idea after I signed up for swimming lessons I would be chopping all my hair off. After we got home, I was thinking about my upcoming lessons and what I would do each day. I was so tired of blow outs and flat irons that I couldnt take it anymore. So, I decided to let my sister put eco styling gel on my entire hair after washing to see what it would look like. I was not happy with the results and it didnt look like my hair would curl. I washed the gel out and went in the bathroom for a few minutes looking in the mirror. I decided to chop my relaxed hair in the middle of my head and add gel and to my surprise, it was beautiful. I was so excited. I showed my husband and he said do it… Oh yeah, my husband was tired of me asking him how I should do my hair. My sister chopped off all the relaxed hair, I washed it & conditioned it and added some gel and you couldnt tell my nothing. I love my natural hair, and to my surprise,I now only use water, conditioner, and edge control for my edges. I'm loving My Natural Journey!!!

  • Anonymous says:


  • sweetbeauty1 says: i took the huge step and i did my 'Big Chop'. Its all new to me, I am happy, and I love the look. I am unsure of what syles to wear or what to put into my hair, can someone please give me some info? Thank you.

  • sweetbeauty1 says:

    I have been transitioning for five months now, I have planned to do my big chop next month, Its really about how you feel and not what others will think or say, I am so in love with my roots already, can hardly wait.

  • Laleepop14 says:

    I Big chopped after 10 months but planned on going a full year. The two textures were driving me mad!!!! My new growth (natural hair) was such a breeze to deal with but once it got tot the line fo demarcation and those relaxed ends it was NO BUENO!!!! I went in the mirror and was like eff it Why wait 2 more months. Plus I thought if I didnt like it I could always weave/braid it up until it was at a better length or grew out some more. But I didnt have too I had a lot of length at 10 months and rocked my ish and am now (today actually) Marks my 8 months of being natural and since my BC!!!!

  • KeepItMovingDotCom says:

    i big chopped because my husband wanted to leave in 30 mintues and i knew i didn't have time to style my hair. whoop, there it went.
    I've never been attached to my hair and never ever listened to other people so it works out for me!
    I think that if you really want to BC, go ahead but if you are just frustrated with the current condition of your hair, then you may need to look in to your routine. You need to alter your conditioning or just have your ends trimmed a bit. Mini-chops are a plus!

  • Quiana says:

    when you're ready, do it. I got tired of my hair, and went to a new stylist and had her cut most of my relaxed hair off. This was after nine months. I still have some relaxed ends, my hair is at ear length, but I can still get perm rods,and do other stuff. If you're afraid, do mini chops!

  • channing says:

    The time to BC for you is yesterday! Once you get to the point where you're saying out loud that you're ready, you're past ready!

    Good luck 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    sorry i meant 855pm lol

  • Anonymous says:

    likewise with anonymous 01/25/2011 843pm….thats is EXACTLY how i felt the only thing that held me back was my ex…. until i relized that who is he to tell me not to cut my hair and if he wants to leave he can.. and thats what he did. surprisingly everyone else loved my short cut and hair is healthy!!!! u as a person have to be ready with no regrets

  • Anonymous says:

    I was 5 seconds away from grabbing the scissors yesterday( 13mos transitioning) I got so frustrated. my goal was to deep condition and style but i ended up deep conditioning and putting it in a bun..not the stle planned….. but I think this is a sign…… ::: Sigh:::

  • Anonymous says:

    Chop it. Contrary to popular belief, long hair is not the be-all end-all of life. Your family and friends will just have to get over it. Besides, 1) IT'S YOUR HAIR, not theirs and 2) HAIR GROWS BACK.

    Once you do the BC, make sure come back and tell us how wonderful your life is now that you don't have to worry about breakage and tangling and that you can walk in the rain and shower without having to worry about messing up your style.

  • Anonymous says:

    Now if you're still unsure, visit LongHairDontCare on YT. She also has a blog. She is a loooong term transitioner (2 plus years) and her hair is amazing. She does mini chops on her relaced hair.

    I didn't have the guts (and face) to BC, so I transitioned with braids, cutting the relaxed ends whenever I rebraided. My last relaxer was in May '09 and I did this for about 10 months until I felt comfortable with my length.

    Happy transitioning!

  • CurlyChefRobin says:

    My BC happened after 5 1/2 month of transitioning. I started hating my relaxed ends. I already had a cut that was shorter in the back so it was starting to look a bit funny since all the hair in the back was natural anyway and I had these stragley (yes made that word up) relaxed ends. I only spoke to my brother about it the day of and the day before his wedding.

    I went to my hairdresser after carefully researching how I wanted her to cut it (wet) and my natural shampoo and condish.

    I will admit I hated it for like a week but the ladies on here really helped! They told me to fake it until I make it and you know what, I made it! I loved my short fro. It's now 5 months later and I love my hair.

    It's gotta be your choice. You will know when you are ready.

  • Unknown says:

    My hair became a BURDEN!! I sighed everytime I had to touch it and work with the two textures. I was OVER IT!! You are ready….you really are.

  • Nique1076 says:

    I knew it was time when I couldn't take the 1 1/2 hours of detangling in the shower…the keeping up with two textures..the shedding..the babysitting of my hair so that it wouldn't shed as much. And I was extremely anxious to see all of my own natural texture. I had transitioned for 8 months..I was FED UP..keep inspiring beautiful naturals.

  • Anonymous says:

    when i got absolutely fed up with wearing a bun and pony. i was 10 months in my transition. I had planned for a year long transition.

  • Unknown says:

    Anonymous @ 2:34, I did the same! I became obsessed w/ the online natural hair community and youtube, then decided after 4mos it was time to see what was under the relaxer and braids. I had a friend cut it off for me and it was the best decision I've made for my hair thus far. 3yrs later, I'm so glad that I got to experience a TWA and now appreciate how much confidence it takes to {{ROCK}} it. You'll know when you're ready when you can't stop thinking about your hair (it literally was all I could daydream about right before I cut it)!!

  • adrien says:

    when you have breakage and the two textures are driving you mad, it's time. i transitioned for 3mos. i didn't have a set time goal to transition but after 3mos i couldn't take it. the ends felt so dead to me!

    if you are truly not ready, i say get some castor oil. it helps retain moisture very well to help with the breakage. use it with some honey to deep condition and as a sealant/hair dress.

    other than that, i'd say go ahead and cut it. or maybe do a mini chop first, cut half the amount of relaxed hair and see how that works for you. then do breaid outs til you are ready to big chop the rest off.

  • SmilezAllAround says:

    I personally think BC's should be avoided unless a very low cut is what you truly want to try out or the hair is so damaged that you have no choice. There's so many ways to transition by slowy cutting your hair into different very cute haircuts. If you get a shorter cut thats framed for your face you will have less hair to deal with, thus decreasing the tangles… I just don't think everyone can pull a BC off. I see some women that have BC'ed and while I'm happy that they are happy I can only think to myself that that look just is not pretty on them. Being less attractive for however many months until your hair grows to a length that better suits your face seems a little unnecessary. Don't misunderstand me though. There are plenty of women that do have the face and bone structure to pull off a BC. But be honest with yourself and ask if you indeed are that person. But again that's MY personal advice to Ms. Joi 🙂

  • LaTia says:

    For me, I big chopped because I got FED UP!!! I had been transitioning for 9 months (my goal was a year) but I was doing twist and curls that came out great but this 1 week it came out terrible. So I flat ironed it and it came out big, not a cute big either… So I wet my hair got some scissors and an hour later I had a pile of hair in the trash!

    My advice like the other women here is to BC when YOU are ready and only you know that. I met a girl today that's been transitioning for a year and is waiting until the 2 year mark. Its all depending on the person. But whatever you decide be happy and confident with your decision.

  • Natural-ness (LV) says:

    I planned to transition, but after about a month or so, I knew that it was time for the extra hair to go. If YOU are ready to chop, than do it! It really isn't anyone's business. It's about your relationship with YOUR hair.

  • Anonymous says:

    I cut my hair in steps. I first cut my hair into a bob with a very short blunt bang. By doing this I had gotten rid of majority of the relaxed hair in front pretty quickly. I knew my hair grew much slower in front so I wanted to get a head start. I kept that cut for quite a few months and regularly got trims while letting the bangs grow out. When I was comfortable with the length of the bangs and the front of my hair I attacked the back and got a cute pixie cut! I washed and set and had a cute curly pixie with an exaggerated curly bang (think Rhianna short in the back/long bang in the front hair cut. OMG I LOVED IT! I knew it was time to chop the back of my hair when I could know longer stop the breakage no matter how well I protected and trimmed the ends. I knew I did not have the face to pull off a low cut without a serious bang… no bueno! SO I came up with a different solution and it was pretty fierce if I say so myself! haha The back eventually caught up to the front and is BS length a year and a half later.

  • Anonymous says:

    Girl- Just chop it. I was *trying* to grow out my perm with wigs and such. One day, after work I looked at it and said out loud " I am cutting it all off!!!

    I did, and didnt look back. You are fustrated. Why add extra stress to your life? Cut it, wear it with pride, and shake off the haters. 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    When I did my BC, I transitioned for about 6 months, and I was READY!! My hair stylist was a highly spiritual person, and she warned me that sometimes I might have moments of low self esteem or feel isolated, but she reminded me of Psalms 139:14 "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." (OH!! LAWD Have mercy….I needed to shout real quick! LOL) But that got me through it, and for the first time in my life, I saw MY FACE, and I embraced my own unaltered beauty. I was SO happy for her encouragement. I say Go for it sister, and don't look back!! 🙂 Blessings to you on your new journey!

  • Anonymous says:

    I got frustrated with the two textures and chopped. I would take CN's advice. "Do You!" Do what will make you the happiest and do what you are comfortable with doing at this time.

  • Simply Melissa says:

    I transitioned for 6 months and bc'd when I was fed up with dealing with the 2 different textures and tired of looking at stringy ends. I was so anxious to see what my natural hair looked like every time I washed my hair. It was so soft and curly! On this one particular day, I thought about seeing my natural hair ALL day and I knew I had to do it that night when I got home from work. I did't regret the decision at all!

  • Moni says:

    Sometimes your hair is ready before YOU think you're ready. That's what happened to me and it sounds like it's the same for you. During my transition I either had my hair straightened professionally or wore a ponytail at the exact same spot at the back of my head. After 6 months I went to a natural stylist to get a straw set and she noticed that my relaxed hair hair had broken off at the back where I wore my ponytail! There was nothing I could do but chop. However, as soon as I chopped I loved it! Hopefully you will too. My stylist styled my hair into comb coils after doing the BC, so maybe having someone style it could help ease the initial transition.

  • TiAnna Mae says:

    I just got sick of seeing all the cute styles that I couldn't achieve on my hair because it wasn't fully natural and didn't look right with my straight ends. If you don't think you're ready, consider doing a mini-chop to get rid of some/all the damaged parts. Maybe have the stylist cut it into a cute and simple bob that will look nice when you do twist outs and rod sets.

  • Anonymous says:

    I transitioned for about 4 months and quickly became bored with braids. I remeber watching BC's on the CN & Youtube and I became really pumuped up. First I called my mom and she said do what makes you happy. So I chopped it off and began to exhale.

  • Anonymous says:

    I big chopped last year for the following reasons:

    1. My hair was breaking off so bad that in the middle that I only had new growth. My arm pit length hair was only on the sides. Drastic breakage from transitioning and not educated enough on how to manage the two textures.
    2. I was just tired of maintaing the two textures. (If I can even call it maintaing because I had lost so much hair.) I loved the new growth and began to hate the perm.(who would have ever thought)
    3. I wanted to really get to know my hair. I had knew the perm for a long while but was anxious to see what my natural hair would do.
    4. Change. I am definitely a girl of change. Change can be of course good or bad but nothing in life stays the same. So I wanted to embrace a new change in my life.
    5. My twa over the course of six months has been phenominal. I have inspired, learned, and discovered new things about myself that I never thought could have happened.

    So I say go for it when you are ready! Love yourself and except your hair for what it is.

  • Naturally Nita says:

    I transitioned with a full sew for 6 months. However, I was tired of trying to blend my leave out with the curly Indian hair and didn't want to use heat for fear of heat damage. Plus, the inability to get to my scalp for weeks at a time just irritated me. It does sound like YOU are ready but the people in your life aren't. Just prep them for the change and if they truly love you, in time they will get over it. Surely they don't want to see you frustrated like you seem to be. Continue to follow other naturalistas blogs for support and encouragement and make that appt.

  • Bree says:

    I am still transitioning and plan to do my cut in a year but I think you know when you are ready and from the sound of it YOU ARE. I think you are at a point where you have to do what is best for you and your hair regardless of others input, people are going to have an opinion on your hair regardless whether they love it or hate it JUST do you. And going back to relaxing after 8 months and now drastic breakage seem like you just put your hair through the ringer for nothing. But as CN says, just make sure you do your research, get tips and make sure you are ready for the cut.

  • Anonymous says:

    I had my last relaxer in June of 2009 and I transitioned for 3 months primarily by doing braid outs (that I would keep in for a week at a time by pineappling at night); that was working well until one fateful Sunday when I had to wash and re braid my hair and it took me 2 Hours to detangle my hair for braiding! 2 HOURS just for the detangle!! I could feel myself snatching hair out of my scalp, it just sounded like ripping sheets of paper or something. Horrible, in essence. That was when I realized that I needed to cut off all of the relaxed hair. (The crazy part is that the natural hair wasn't the problem, it was the relaxed hair)

    I said all of that to say that I got to the point of frustration before I decided to BC; I didn't care how others were going to receive me and my 1-1/2" of hair, I didn't care about shrinkage (at the time, lol),I did it for me, my sanity, and my scalp. My mom and grandma still don't like it but they'll be ok.

    You'll know when you are ready for a BC; and as other posters mentioned you certainly can't make the decision based on other people; you have to make it for yourself.

  • Loving Me says:

    I deep conditioned over night and when I took that cap off my natural curls were so soft and lucious and I had a big tangled mess of rough relaxed ends sitting on top of it like a hat. I reached for the comb to detangle and said F dat and proceeded to grab the scissors! And thats all she wrote. I was a happier me afterwards…

  • Anonymous says:

    I cut my hair after 8 months. But just to a length I could deal with. I still had relaxed ends.

  • Anonymous says:

    When the idea of what the results of your big chop will look like doesn't send into panic. When you are fully comfortable with the idea of embracing your natural hair (it is a journey). When you're sure that your are doing it for yourself and not for others…and when you are sure that the negative comments of others won't make you regret your decision.

  • Anonymous says:

    I transitioned for 6 months. I planned on doing it for a year but I couldn't take it. I was wearing braids and my hair was breaking off in clumps. I woke up one morning, called a friend and had her cut it off. A lot of people were telling me not to big chop but it wasn't about them it was about me. In the end it's only hair. It will grow back. But do what you think is best.

  • Anonymous says:

    It was time for me when I got tired dealing with the two textures. I too was sick of looking at my relaxed ends. I chopped at 8 months.

  • socialitedreams says:

    sounds like it is beyond time for you, hon. if YOU are ready then you are ready, forget what anyone else says, they usually get over it quickly. if you chop and then can take care of your hair and make it healthy and beautiful looking, they won't have any grounds to complain. besides, THEY don't have to deal with the two textures or your hair in general.


  • Anonymous says:

    when it made me sick to look at my relaxed ends!

  • Anonymous says:

    How did you know when it was time to Big Chop?

    when the hairdresser screamed in shock at my hair. i knew. It was time. Didnt help by the fact my mom kept saying: "i think you getting a relaxer was a bad idea hun". Cant knock two strong viewpoints! lol

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