big chop or long transition: which is better?

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Doing the Big Chop or Long Transitioning: Which method is Better? This is a question I’ve come across a lot throughout the natural hair forums and other online mediums. People are wondering whether or not they should do the big chop or if they should long transition and maintain their new growth with their relaxed ends until they’ve reached a length they’re comfortable with. In this post, I’ll discuss the pros and cons of both ways to go natural to give you more information on making the choice for yourself.The Big ChopFrom what I’ve seen, the majority of people who decide to go natural decide to do a big chop. Essentially, this just means that once your hair has gained minimal new growth (like less than 3 inches), you cut off the rest of your hair which is the relaxed ends.
Doing the big chop means that you don’t have to deal with styling two textures on your head and you can see what your hair’s true natural curl pattern is like without it being weighed down by the relaxed ends. Once your hair is all one texture, it’s much easier to style your hair and choose products because you’re not battling with the relaxed and curly ends.

One of the major downsides that people have with doing the big chop is that they don’t want to rock short curly hair, or they’re scared that their natural curl pattern isn’t going to be as “curly” as they thought. Often times, I see women who are really discouraged because their curl pattern didn’t come out like their friends or other people they’ve been comparing themselves to and learning from before they BC’d.

In either of the two above cases, you can always wear your hair in a protective style that literally brings down your hair management levels to almost nothing. You can wear your short curly hair in braids, twists, a weave, or a wig until you’re comfortable with the length your hair has grown to and you’ve found someone with the same or similar hair texture to yours to learn styling and hair care tips.

Long Transitioning

Transitioning with this process involves maintaining your natural hair texture along with your relaxed ends at the same time until your natural hair reaches the length that you desire before you cut it. This process can be done for as little as a few months to a year or longer depending on the person.  Long Transitioning affords you the luxury of being able to wear your hair at a length that you’re
comfortable with so you don’t have to worry about shocking yourself and others with a super low curly cut if you choose to BC. Also, you can still wear your hair straight when you long transition by heat straightening the curly new growth or by using rollers and silk wraps. Either way, you don’t have to cut your hair to a length that you’re uncomfortable with. You can also go with the protective styling route using braids, twists, and weaves if you long transition as well.

What you need to look out for when you long transition is making sure that you’re keeping your new growth healthy. If you’re struggling to maintain the two textures and you’re constantly heat straightening your roots, your curly new growth can get heat damaged. Also, the section of your new growth that is directly connected to your relaxed ends is the weakest part of your hair and as your hair grows and the relaxed ends continue to strain on that part of your hair, you could experience some serious breakage and end up with uneven hair. A lot of times when your hair breaks off during this phase, you end up losing more length than you want and end up having to BC anyways.

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A good way of preventing this from happening is to make sure that you’re constantly keeping your new growth as healthy as possible and using the least amount of heat that you can. Another thing that you might find if you choose to long transition is that it’s easier to get tempted to relax again because once your hair grows to a point where it becomes more difficult to manage the two textures; it’s easy to get frustrated and give up.

You’ll also want to gauge the health of your hair before you choose the long transition route because if your relaxed ends are REALLY damaged and unhealthy, why would you want to hold on it anyways? And, when your hair is really chemically and heat damaged, you have a much higher chance of losing the hair to breakage and having to big chop.

The one last thing that I wanted to point out about long transitioning is that when you long transition, you won’t be able to tell what you’re real curl pattern and natural hair texture is like.The relaxed ends of your hair weigh down on the new growth so you won’t get a real sense of what your hair texture is like until you rid yourself of the relaxed parts.

Altogether, there are pros and cons to each of the two transitioning methods and it’s best to weigh them out and decide which one works best for you. There are many naturals out there who have successfully transitioned using each of the methods above and I have used a combination of both methods during my natural hair journey. Whatever method you’re looking into, make sure you do your research and analyze your own hair to make sure that you’re making the best choice for yourself.

Hopefully this post has helped you make a more informed decision about which way is best for you to transition on your natural hair journey. But, if you’re really in doubt like Nike says, JUST DO IT!

To your transitioning success,
aJwitaFrO ♥

This awesome post was brought to you by, guest blogger Ajoke:

I’d love to see your guest post here, have an article you want to share that talks about natural hair, beauty tips, fashion or lifestyle? Please email me at: afroniquely@gmail.com subject “guest blogger”. Thanks all, stay blessed and afroniquely you!

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Ajoke Olorundare or better known as aJwitaFrO in the natural hair community has been natural for over 10 years and has overcome a number of challenges with her natural hair. She’s very passionate about natural hair, living passionately and embracing your true self to live a happy and fulfilled life. You can connect with aJ online via Twitter: @aJwitaFrO and her Youtube channel

14 COMMENTS

  1. My Mother Trasitioned into dreads, it took quite a while, but a good way to mask the relaxed ends is to get extesions one your hair grows to a reasonable length, then the weight will grow out your new hair faster. Thr big chop is GREAT but only if your employer wont mind you being near bald for a few weeks or more.

  2. I transitioned for 1 1/2 years but had I dont the BC I think it would have been more liberating because I'd really be stepping out of my comfort zone. The best part of transitioning though was learning to experiment with my hair. I mean its possible with a BC too but I think there are limited styles you can try with a BC. When tranisitoning I learned to do so many styles so my hair would look nice so now that I'm all natural its not a challenge. Both ways are great though!

  3. Ya, I totally know what you mean. I kind of did a mixture of both throughout my hair journey. but ya, overall whatever works best for you is what's important. enjoy the journey! how long have you been natural for now?

  4. When I did my BC in May, I thought I would transition for a long time, being that I have almost never had short hair. But I want to experience the inner changes that come with the experience of going natural, as latia4u explained in her Youtube video, “Transition Vs. Big Chop “. Initially I got a lot of shocking stares and questions from people (my hair was relaxed and just past my shoulders beforehand), but I'm doing me now, it's time for this change– whether others are ready or not!

  5. This is my second go round to going natural and I transitioned for 8 months. I was going for 12 but I was sitting here listening to MJ tributes and said “what the hell, let's take it back to the 60's and '70's and got a pair of hair scissors and “chop chop”.

    It felt soooooo good! LOL!

  6. wow! all the power to you! and I agree, the big chop really takes you on a “journey”. It's all about life transformation almost in my opinion.

  7. Hey girl,

    Ya, you've kind of got it. When you long transition, the idea is to grow your natural hair out to a length you're comfortable with before you cut off all the relaxed ends. So, in theory you could grow your natural hair to shoulder length before cutting off all the relaxed ends.

    With long transitioning you just have to keep in mind that the part of your hair that connects the relaxed part to the natural part is the weakest and as your hair grows, that's where the hair will start to break so if your hair isn't properly cared for during the long transition it can get uneven from breakage (the breakage is also inevitable, in most cases it will happen even if it's just a little).

    So ya, long transitioning is just growing out until you're comfortable enough with the length to cut off all the relaxed ends. you can also do a gradual long transition where you're trimming the relaxed ends while the new growth comes in.

  8. soo ive been doing research on things and this explained long transitioning a bit better but i still want to get this straight….so if i long term transition i could grow my hair out to lets say shoulder lenght then cut off the relaxed parts at the end and my hair would be completly natural…or after long transitioning i still at some point have to do a big chop in order to be natural? please respond im soo confused

  9. hi its me again i still dont know if i want to transition….i had my first relaxer back in 2008 and it was a full relaxer and since then i get touch ups on the roots so if i transition does that mean my ends wont be relaxed and is that a good thing or what because a full perm hasnt touched my hair since 2008 so im guessing the perm isnt still on my ends soo could you please help me again=) im still confused….

  10. Hi..in transition it means that as the hair grows out, the ends or the previously relaxed hair is still there, unless you cut it off. So in your case, the ends will still be relaxed, the only natural would be the new growth. Once you grow out to a length you desire (that is let the new growth get to a length you like), you will then cut off the relaxed ends.

  11. I know this might be a slow question but im about to start my long transition and i would like to know..how do you know when you natural begans to grow over your relaxed…

  12. It's quite okay, well one way to tell is that you'll feel the new growth. Once the hair reaches a certain length, you'll be able to see it easily, but you'll certainly be able to feel the difference usually.

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