When making the decision to transition from relaxed to natural hair, you must first decide on the route you will be taking to become completely natural. Though there is essentially one ultimate route to transition, this involves cutting your relaxed hair off either through a mini chop or a big chop.
But did you know that there are actually three ways to go natural? If you think about it, the routes you can take to go natural can either be to BIG CHOP now, TRANSITION for a few short months and then do the BIG CHOP, or you can TRANSITION for a longer period of time and then do a MINI CHOP every few weeks.
I’ve also heard of a fourth method where the person allows their relaxed hair to simply “fall off” on its own. Please, whatever you do, make sure your hair just doesn’t fall off, because this is HAIR SUICIDE. Though your relaxed hair will eventually be cut off, I will recommend that you give it the same attention you give your natural hair at the roots. This way, you can get a first-hand experience on how to work with damage hair.
Three ways to go natural
This is when you go from having long(er) hair (e.g. chin length and longer) to a TWA (teeny-weeny afro) or noticeably shorter hair with a hair cut.
Reasons for a Big Chop
Some women choose to go through this route for reasons such as freedom from regular hair styling, the ability to go through the different stages of hair growth (TWA-Small Afro-Big Hair) or an impulse decision to join the natural hair community ASAP.
For example, I did the big chop because I wanted to grow healthier hair from scratch and I couldn’t wait till I was 50 years old to wear a TWA (long story on wanting to cut my hair at the age of 50).
I like the big chop route because it allows you to go through the different stages of hair length, which makes length check so much fun! It also allows you to experiment with short hairstyles such as comb coils, sponge coils or just a simple wash and go.
Another great thing about the Big Chop is that it allows you to truly get to know your hair without the interference and distraction of your relaxed hair. You will also especially get to experience the changes of your hair texture and coil pattern as your hair adjusts from relaxed to natural.
For example, when I started out, I had about 5 different coil patterns all scattered throughout my head. But as my hair grew longer and stronger, the variety of my coil patterns eventually reduced to about 3.
In a previous post on the 10 Advantages of the TWA, I talked about the excitement that a TWA can bring to a person’s life. Many women including myself have had to invest the money they would have spent on their hair on *jewelleries, make-up, hair accessories and a trendy wardrobe. And lastly, a TWA hairstyle is very economical because you don’t need to spend a lot of money, hair products, time and energy on it.
I won’t deny that a sudden change of hairstyle doesn’t have some drawback to it. Women who suddenly cut their hair have been questioned about their mental state, finances or sexual orientation. Depending on your confidence level, cutting your hair off might feel uncomfortable and awkward initially, but a simple hair accessory , make-up and a statement earring plus a smile will have you looking like a million bucks.
2. Transition + Big Chop
This second route is best for those who wants to have a sizeable amount of afro on their head first before cutting off the relaxed ends. The length of time one takes to transition before doing the big chop is all dependent on personal preference.
This is a great choice for someone who isn’t completely convinced about the natural hair route and would like to wait it out before making the leap. It’s also a great choice for someone who wants to get a sneak peek into what their natural hair is like.
Another great thing about this route is that it gives you the time to really think about your decision to do the big chop before you commit to doing it. By the time you’ve cut your hair, you will only need to start with a small afro which is long enough to be braided with extensions, should you want longer hair afterwards.
The major drawback of transitioning is that you will have two different and often conflicting hair textures to work with. Having to deal with these many textures can be frustrating and complex for someone who’s used to dealing with the single straight texture which a relaxer provides.
3. Transition + Minichop
The third route is often chosen by people who can’t imagine wearing shorter hair, particularly if they are not a weave/wig wearer. So to avoid the sudden changes, they will choose to transition for an extended period of time (up to two years in some cases).
While transitioning, they will gradually trim about 1-2 inches of relaxed hair on a regular basis. That way, their hair will remain at the length (e.g shoulder length) that they’re most comfortable with.
This method allows the you to “jump” into the natural hair community with a lot of hair to work with. Because of this, they’re able to wear more hairstyles which a shorter hair length won’t be able to.
Since their natural roots is protected with the relaxed hair at the ends, they’re able to track their hair growth rate and achieve a 100% length retention rate with their natural hair. This means that breakage and split ends wouldn’t be a problem, unless the relaxed ends aren’t being taken care of.
There are so many benefits to this route that it’s almost difficult to come up with disadvantages. But if I can pick one, it will be that the relaxed hair at the ends can sometimes act as a distraction when styling.
Another drawback is that the lengthy transitioning phase can delay the ability to wear Afro friendly hairstyles such as an Afro puff or a BIG twist out.
Whichever route that you take to go natural, please make sure that it’s a decision that fits your lifestyle and comfort level. But then again, you can always braid your hair or wear wigs on days that you don’t feel like wearing your own hair out.
Which route did you take to go natural? What were your pros and cons?
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