Big chopping (BC) used to be the only way women with chemically processed hair could transition to chemical free hair. As black hair care evolved, multiple techniques for transitioning has emerged such as protective styles and comprehensive natural hair regimen. Big chopping your hair willingly is a new experience that will shape and make you resilient if you can enjoy the process.
Story behind my last big chop and inspiration for the article. My youngest sister big chopped last year (more like went bald) and after chatting with her, I felt empowered to take try the BC path again, especially since I finally had the support I needed to make the transition. I BC, more like went bald on accident on 19 November 2013 and this time the journey has given me more than I could have imagined. My plan was to have about 1 inch of hair after removing my microbraids but as faith would have it, I ended up completely bald. I had BC twice before and hated the journey both times, I was so focused on my flaws I forgot to enjoy the journey. This time however, although my hair was shorter than I wanted I learned so much about myself, the journey and I am delighted to share them with you.
Before exploring the “must knows” for a BC, below are 6 unexpected and invaluable lessons you can learn.
- After you get over the initial shock, looking at yourself with no hair can be very empowering. Empowering in a way you’ve never felt before, like limitless, been there done that. It may also be a great opportunity to delve into an inner beauty journey through books, movies, nature hikes etc.
- The BC is a great conversation starter and tool to teach the young girls in your life about inner beauty not being tied to the length of your hair.
- Just when you think you’ve gotten used to the journey, there will be stares. Some STARES are judgmental but many stares are for ADMIRATION. You would definitely get the comment “you have the perfect head shape for that haircut” or “you look good but I could never cut my hair off like that”. In spite of that, you may have left a lasting impression that may help another woman in her natural hair journey.
- As with anything in life, everything is not always peachy, you may get offensive comments. I took strength to cut off your hair so negative comments should be “water on ducks back”.
- For tender headed women, the convenience of snag free hair is PRICELESS.
- I spend less than 5 minutes to get my hair done in the morning, can I get an AMEN for more sleep.
Now to the main highlight of the article, 10 things you should know “Before you big chop”.
- Length check: Even if your hair is not fully natural, do a length check so you can see how long it takes to get back to your original length. It’s a great way to start and celebrate your new journey.
- Love note: Write yourself a love note and post it on your primary mirror before you go the barber in case you need a picker upper after your BC. I also added a cute picture of my celebrity crush. The note was a huge picker upper and it made me smile while releasing those healthy chemicals in my body (PSYCH 101)
- Research: If your goal is to BC as a way to start your natural journey, be sure to research hair growth vitamins and hair care/growth techniques so you could jump right in. Think over the decision to BC thoroughly though. Although hair grows back, there’s a sense of permanence with a BC. If you BC & regret it, understand it’s a stage and your hair will grow back. NO PITY PARTIES allowedJ. If you don’t have a wig handy, you may want to research a wig beforehand. You don’t want to have to choose a wig on the day you BC because it could all be overwhelming. Plus, wigs are a great way to add length to your hair if it’s too short to braid. Research alternative such as transitioning without big chop with protective style or BC at 4 inches stretched or more. At 4 inches, your hair is long enough to braid and cornrow. BC less than 2 inches is not for everyone that’s where my next point comes in.
- Barber: Research low haircuts based on you face shape or go to an experienced barber. Find a supportive barber or stylist…. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT. I also recommend getting the back of your head shaped-up and not the front. I think that unless you have a very feminine features or that’s the look you’re trying to get, a complete shape-up can look pretty masculine. I’ll share this personal experience, there is a barbershop next to my home. I take my son there regularly for his haircuts. While cutting my hair, the barber said I had a funny shaped head and BC was a dumb idea. Long story short, he didn’t think women should cut their hair but he’ll never turn down a chance to make money. I needed point 2 like never before, the next day on the train EVERYONE told me how gorgeous I looked and that my head was the perfect shape for the BC.
- STORAGE: Store the hair you cut off as a keepsake or store as much of it as you can. If you decide to store your hair, be sure to wash it first and store it in a transparent airtight container. If not it the hair will become brittle, dusty and dry.
- Eyebrows and Make up: Wax or reshape your eyebrows after you cut your hair. The ideal shape for your brow may be different since you have less hair. Feel free to try new ways to wear you make up too.
- Season: Avoid cutting your hair in the Fall or Winter unless you live in a warm climate or plan on wearing a wig. Your head will take some time to acclimate to no hair and this takes much longer if it’s cold and you’ll be more susceptible to catching a cold. (I don’t know how men do it). ALWAYS wear something to cover your head including at night when you sleep. There are tons of options, hats, and head scarves. I emphasize catching a cold because it’s easier to avoid it than cure it. Experiment with Hair accessories; headbands, jewelry, bows, head scarves
- Accessorize: Big earrings are a huge booster, you don’t need earrings as big as a napkin holder, but a bit bigger than a 1/8 stud can make a difference.
- Experiment with color: Use permanent or demi permanent. If you feel like it, bleach your hair blonde. If you have thin or fine hair, dying your hair jet black will make your hair look thicker immediately.
- Lead the way: Try to find a friend or relative to do it with & be sure to celebrate the choice. It can be very liberating. If no one is interested, LEAD THE WAY HONEY!!! Participate in an online forum or blog and feel free to share a picture and a caption on how you feel. Trust me you’ll find support.
All things considered, BC at least once is on my recommended things to add to your bucket list. Coping with hair loss is one of the most challenging things for women who go through a medical treatment such as chemotherapy. Big chopping is more than the process cutting off your hair. It’s the opportunity to love your true self and if you end up getting a disease that leads to hair loss, you will be so much stronger for the fight for your life.
Keep the convo going, do you have any tips I may have missed, comment below 🙂
Article courtesy: Braided Barbie