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Curly Nikki

Should I Transition or Should I Big Chop?

By January 27th, 202121 Comments
Should I Transition or Should I Big Chop?
by Danielle of Long Natural Hair Care

I’m honestly surprised at how often I am asked this question by future-naturals. I love being asked for advice and helping when I can, but this question is so personal it’s really hardly my place to say. In the past I have answered this question with something evasive yet friendly…but now that feels like too much of a cop out. In my first go round as a natural, I did a big chop after a 6 month transition taking me from below bra-strap length up to a little afro. In my second (and final) conversion back to natural, I did a long transition of almost 2 years.

While it’s true, only YOU can determine whether you should transition or do a big chop, there are some important things to consider when making your decision.

Read On!>>>

How do you usually wear your hair?
If you’re constantly keeping your natural hair braided up under wigs or weaves, or you wear braided extensions for the majority of the time, then you could easily transition this way or do a big chop (depending on your natural hair length) and be fine either way.

If you wear your hair out mostly, straightened or in various other styles without added hair, or without hiding your hair regularly, then you have a big decision to make.

How much energy are you willing to put into your hair?
If you enjoy washing, detangling, deep conditioning, applying treatments, moisturizing, braiding, twisting, and otherwise styling your hair and are patient enough to delicately handle both textures as you grow your relaxed hair ends out, then I’d say go for the transition.

If you are impatient, and hair-lazy, or not confident in your styling skills, then I’d say hide your hair for your transition or do a big chop.

Do you have length issues?
This one is a no brainer. If you are not ready to deal with short hair, go for a long transition. If you’re excited for a new look and short length, BC!

How patient are you?

If you’re anxious to (re)discover your natural texture and type, then by all means BC. If you can wait, and are happy with your relaxed ends weighing down your hair pattern while it grows out, then transition to fully natural.

Other questions to ask yourself before you pick up the scissors are:

Do I know enough about hair care to make a big change?
– If the answer is no, then read and research before doing anything drastic.

Do I want to go natural for ME? – If the answer is no, think hard on it, journal your feelings, list the pros and cons for you, and reconsider your motives.

Do I have a backup plan?
– Even if you’re 100% gung ho, and you do a big chop, you may be in for a shock. Do you have a backup plan in place? Wigs, scarves, a hair braider you can trust? etc.. Be sure to know what your plan B is before you big chop.

These are just a few of the relevant questions that come to mind when determining whether or not a BC or transition is right for you. Only you can determine what’s right for your lifestyle and your temperament. I know people say “it’s only hair” but this is a big decision and should not be encountered lightly. Best of luck on your journey!

Did you BC or Transition? Are you happy with your decision?

CN Says:
It’s a personal choice– there is no right or wrong way to go natural.  However, in my 8 years of being intimately involved with the natural hair community, it seems that the folks who slowly transition (as compared to folks who suddenly BC) are usually happier with their decision to go natural and stay that way.  This is not always the case by any means, but it is something to consider.  


  • Anonymous says:

    Im a "Its just Hair type of person" so over the past 4 yrs I have BC 2x the first time I thought about for about a month and just did it, I used to get perms like once o twice a yr just to lengthen my curls and wavys but hadnt got one prior to the 1st big chop in about a yr. I wasnt in transition just didnt perm. SO after the first big chopped I loved the short look but i let it grow out for about a yr and a half and at some point thru that I just didnt want to flat iron it no more and told myself I would cut it again and this time transition to all natural. SO i chopped something serious, I cut it to about half an inch of hair. I was bit hurt at first because the person who cut it used a razor and not shears, I was beyond pissed to say the least cuz it completely jacked up how my hair would lay. SO i went back to flat ironing. A yr later (today) i am on a transition mission and have not flat ironed it except for 3x… and have as little heat as possible and Im beginning to love it again.

    SO I just want to add to this list, if you do decide to BC please research the place you go, ask ppl about it, even ask the person to talk you though there process before even touching your hair so you will not be dissappointed.

  • Anonymous says:

    My last Relaxer was 11/13/10 & I'm currently 4months in transition. I Started my Transformation Joruney rocking a double stand twist for 2wks & felt that my ends were getting dry,I've been reading "CN" & Talking to other Naturals , 2 decided the best method for me So I had a weave for 6wks and notice a nice amount of "NG" did a little pre-pooing @ Home w/EVOO & Organic Root Replinshing Pack .. Only to have a little hair trama @ the Salon w/ The assistant was detangling my -root to tip instead bottom up, Needless to say I was not a happy transitioner. I plan on being a long term transitioner -Looking for a little advice regarding dry hair and the best products has i happily go through my nappturality journey.

  • Anonymous says:

    M last relaxer was in the beginning of December. I don't remember the exact date. I said I would transition for 6 months and then bc. However, after only about 3 months I'm extremely frustrated with the 2 textures. I'm ready to chop now. I'm going to try to hold out though. I've been reading several posts about hair types. I honestly do not have a clue as to what my hair type is just by looking at and touching my new growth. But it seems that many people can classify their hair type only a few months into transition. Why can't I figure it out lol?? Oh well, the journey continues.

  • Anonymous says:

    I did a BC 2 weeks ago. I wasn't really long to begin with with getting rid of the relaxer/ wrap combo definitely was a change for me. Its been very difficult. I enjoy being able to sleep on my head, taking a shower without worrying about sweating & having relations without worrying about my bangs. The biggest thing is not being so critical of myself, especially with facial breakouts, lazy clothes days & no perms… I'm going to give it some more time & see how I feel once it gets a little longer.

  • diamondcurls says:

    I have been transitioning since Sept. 2009 and still going strong. I did not want a drastic change so I knew the process from relaxed to natural would be long term for me. I needed the time to learn about my hair and how best to care for it. I was afraid to do the BC mainly because I knew I would have no idea what to do. A BC was way too permanent a thing to do for me.

    So far, I have enjoyed learning about my hair and seeing all the growth. I can't wait to be 100% natural which i think will be by the end of this year.

  • Bree says:

    I am still transitioning, this is my 6th month but I haven't BC yet but clipping my ends regularly right now I' am just keeping my hair in twist as it grows out more

  • Anonymous says:

    I plan on transitioning long term. It's not really the length that's the main factor anymore, but it's the fact that I have to get used to taking better care of my hair than I normally would. I think transitioning long term will give me more time to learn what my hair likes and doesn't like. Just saying, length isn't the only reason someone would transition long term.

  • Anonymous says:

    I BC after 2 months of transitioning because I tend to do things full on and I was looking forward to really short hair (1.5 inches on top and cropped on the sides and back). Most around me didn't understand, but I'm glad I did it that way. Now, 15 months since the BC, they get it. You have to do what works for you.

  • blackberry74 says:

    My last relaxer was in December of '08. I never planned to BC – I cut my hair short once and absolutely hated it…never again. The decision whether or not to BC is something each person should consider carefully without all the extra input from everybody else – after all, you're the one that has to live with your hair regardless of what you decide…not them. 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    i think everyone is in a rush to get a BC for some reason. Personally, I've been a long time transitioner, with dusting every 6 months, For me that line of demarcation has not been an issue, I keep it will moisturized, and have absolutely no problems. i have about an inch of relaxed hair to cut off which i plan to do at the end of the year. If you wanna go short (which I had already been there and done that) the I guess BC, but you really don't have my opinion….transitioning will really teach you you how to be gentle and care for you hair…i think…..???
    heres my stupid little blog if you you got time:


  • Sharri Sweeting says:

    I BC'd. It's the 'Just jump in the pool and get over the cold water sooner' technique. I was stunned at first but got over it quickly. I think that it's best to learn how to care for your natural hair as it grows rather than confronting your texture once the last of the relaxed ends have been cut off.

  • Anonymous says:

    great post!

  • Anonymous says:

    I BC'd and was left with about a quarter inch of hair and I loved it. I kept it short for 2 yrs then began locking. 4.5 yrs later I BC'd again and wore it in a TWA for a year before locking again, that was 4.5 yrs ago.

  • Candace4life says:

    Hum is it me but does this lovely natural with all of this gorgeous thick hair, that posted her hair on strawberricurls kinda look like the lady on here. Here's the link:


    Well I Bc'd my hair and was left with about 2 inches of hair, now it's between shoulder length to collarbone length. I cut my hair off in 09, right now I have it in some 2 strand twists with a beanie hat with a small flower attached to it. I got my makeup of purple matching with my outfit, though it a pitiful day with all of this rain, and fog.

  • ReignElle says:

    I did a mini chop, meaning I cut off most of my hair but there was still some relaxer left on my hair. From there I did a lot of protective styles until I had the nerve to wear my hair out. I regret not experiencing the full big chop experience. I would have learned so much about my hair in a shorter period of time, instead of suppressing it and learning about it a year later.

  • Pecancurls says:

    Very good tips. I am in the process of a transition. Last perm was in Sept 2010, so five months in. I have decided to do a long term transition instead of a BC. I mostly wear my hair in flat twists with a 2 strand twist pony tail or I just add a piece. So far, it is working out well.

  • honeybrown1976 says:

    I am in my ninth month of transitioning, which is the start of a long transition. I don't plan to bc at all. Yes, length plays a factor in it for me. My hair is bsl. I've always had long hair and I want to keep that way. Short hair, on me, is a no-no.

    The tips are so right on that anyone thinking of this process must read them.

  • Anonymous says:

    These are really good tips without trying to convince someone that either way is way to go. I transitioned for about 4 months, then BC'd and am still happy with my choice. I had never had hair that short and so it was a refreshing and low maintenance change. It's been almost 5 years since then but I might BC again. 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    I B'C'd after doing a gradual transition over a yr and half. Although I didn't have breakage, I got sick of the textural difference. I wasn't caught up on length, as I have had short hair and very long hair in the past and know that it will grow back. So, I chopped from BSL (half natural) to a TWA over 11 yrs ago. I kept it short for a yr and then let it grow.

    Your advice is good for anyone going through the thought process of whether to B'C. There are so many factors involved. I think too many of us are so caught up on length that we have much more angst than we need to about B'Cing. I am so glad that I have had the full hair experience – relaxed and short, relaxed and long, natural and short, natural and long. I feel like I know my hair in all of its glory because of being fearless in my willingness to explore. Good luck to everyone in finding what works for you!! And thanks Danielle for the great advice!!

  • Anonymous says:

    I transitioned for nearly 6 months.
    When i chopped my hair off i was sad and didn't want to go out with my short hair..but after two weeks i felt comfortable with it.
    I wish i had tips like these before chopping it all off!

  • Anonymous says:

    I BCed only after about 4 months because baybeeeee I was READY!! I was freaking fed up and ready for a change, and the guy that I was dating at the time really encouraged me to do it and love it. Shortly afterwards, we broke up and I felt that no one would understand my quest for healthy natural hair. My hair was super short!! Eventually, I noticed that I turned a lot more heads as a natural than I EVER did with the perm. It sort of validated the fact that men are attracted to the confidence, not so much the hair, so I pressed on and here I am 6 years later and LOVING it!! Now it's not about what other people think so much for me as it is about just being healthy all around. Going natural changed my mind and my life for the better. I hope this helps those of you who are still thinking about it but are not sure. 🙂

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