Going Natural Without the Big Chop: Things You Should Consider

going natural without the big chopThe key to natural hair care, especially for those who have the most common hair types found in black hair, is to increase the number of good things that you do for your hair and the reduce the number of bad things that you do for (or to) your hair.

It sounds simple, but this really is the key to success. I’ll explain.

The Key to Going Natural Without the Big Chop

You must eliminate or mitigate techniques and methods that are harmful to your hair goals. Forget about all the tips that you hear from the natural hair gurus, because honestly natural hair gurus don’t exist. No one can tell you what you should do for your hair, unless they understand your current hair regimen.

Don’t Want to Big Chop – No Worries.

Many naturals are concerned about going natural, because they don’t want to big chop. Don’t allow this to be a concern, especially if that prevents you from going natural. It’s okay – don’t big chop. Going natural without the big chop simply means that you will have to transition to natural hair.

The process of transitioning to natural hair involves several different components, but the two most important things to understand right now are the physical transition and the mental transition.

  • Physical transition: The physical transition is a process of growing out your relaxer. This means, instead of big chopping immediately, you will grow out your hair and the relaxer over a period of time to be defined by you. There really is not a limit on how long you can transition.
  • Mental transition: The mental transition is a process of changing your mind. For many women going natural can be very taxing mentally. So, transitioning mentally is the process of preparing your mind for the many different things that you will encounter during your natural hair journey.

When you’re going natural without the big chop, your hair growth rate generally becomes really important. Ladies often wonder how long it will take for their natural hair to grow out, so they no longer have to deal with both relaxed and natural hair at the same time.

Let’s Talk Hair Growth

On average, hair grows approximately 1/2 inch per month. If you have average hair growth, then you should expect your hair to grow about 6 inches per year. It’s important to understand what to expect from your hair over time. There are ways to calculate your actual hair growth rate, but for the purposes of this article, let’s assume that your hair grows close to the average.

This means that even with perfect length retention, which isn’t possible, your hair would increase in length about 6 inches per year. Once you consider that many women don’t take proper care of their hair and some trim more often than really necessary, growing long hair becomes quite a challenge.

For more details on hair growth, check out our free hair growth guide. If you have an Amazon Kindle, I also recommend checking out Dr. Phoenyx Austin’s book that provides quite a bit of information about growing long hair. It’s a good read, especially for natural newbies, who are just starting their natural hair journey.

Patience Is Critical When Going Natural Without the Big Chop

Transitioning to natural hair takes time. The only way to immediately go natural is to big chop. If you decide that you would rather not big chop, it might take several months for you to become 100% natural. This obviously depends on the current length of your hair, but I’ve seen some women take 18+ months going natural without the big chop.

If You Love It, it Will GrowCurl Centric recommends If You Love It, it Will Grow by Dr. Phoenyx Austin. This is a great book for women who want to go natural without big chopping, because it’s focused on the basics of hair growth, hair damage, and how to choose commercial hair products. It even has a chapter dedicated to new naturals. Use this link to learn more about Dr. Austin’s book.

60 Comments

  • This article really helped me feel better about my transition jorney to natural hair..The last time I got a perm was June 10, 2013 and since then i just wore braids as a transitioning style, It’s very hard for me to transition (By the way, I’m 15) I also don’t know a lot of girls my age who are transitioning so it feels almost impossible for me to wake up on day and say “Hey, I’m going to school with some flat twists, or an afro” Because of how most people at my school view natural hair..I don’t want to walk down the hallway and someone call me “Harriet Tubman” or “Soul Train Dancer” …I just wish i could feel much more comfortable with my hair…I also do NOT plan on doing the bug chop. My hair is at shoulder length and I don’t want to have to go to school with shorter hair. How can i feel better about my hair?

    • Hi. Melissa. My name is Nija. by the way, Im just as young as you ..I Just turned 16 on July 13. Im in the process of transitioning also. My hair is about two inches past my shoulders, &Ive only been transitioning my hair for 7 months. Its kinda a stressful deal with me because Im very impatient but its worth it. Im also wearing braids so i don’t have to deal with all my hair every morning I wake up for school. Just want to tell you, you are not alone and their are plenty of young ladies like me in the same process as you. Don’t bother with what anyone say about you. Always have confident in yourself. if you ever need advice or anything, my email is nija.marshall @ gmail.com . Im an listening ear. (:

    • I’m 13 and I know no one in my grade that is going through the transition or the big chop.I’ve made the decision to go through the transition and I am loving it ,I done mind the negative comments because I’m doing this for me and I wanted to embrace what God gave me and I want you to brush off the negative comment and stay optimistic!

      • I’m 15. I have decided to go natural because the perms are hurting my hair and I was going to keep putting braids because I don’t know how to deal with nappy hair besides a relaxer. A flat iron doesn’t work. Help?

        • Hi Kaia,
          Braids are a great option to use as you are figuring out what the best decisions are for your hair at its current time.

          Keep in mind that your hair is grow and change. It respond later to the things that your decide to do to it now, so be sure to take good care of it along the way.

          Also, using the term nappy has such a negative meaning to it and blocks you from seeing the beauty your hair truly has. What you think matter and it will determine how you think and feel about your hair and pretty much every part of your life.

          Check out this post that I wrote about what you think: http://www.curlcentric.com/think-good-hair/

          Also, be sure to join the newsletter! I look forward to hearing from you,

          Kira

        • Hi Kaia,
          A great place for you to start is here!
          Alot of your basic natural hair questions and suggestions are here and it can help you navigate through your journey.
          Also, be sure to join the newsletter, I am available to answer your natural hair questions there as well.

          Kira

    • I’m 13 and I know no one in my grade that is going through the transition or the big chop.I’ve made the decision to go through the transition and I am loving it ,I done mind the negative comments because I’m doing this for me and I wanted to embrace what God gave me and I want you to brush off the negative comment and stay optimistic!

    • I’m also 15 years old and I’m a beginner in transitioning my hair. Luckily I don’t have the problem with being picked on because of natural hair because it’s kind of in style now, but I definitely will NOT be doing the big chop because then I would get cracked on. I think that you should just be free and be who you are, because sooner or later people will not even pay much attention to your transitioning hair, you should just be brave and continue doing what you are doing, but also give your hair a break out of braids or any weave at least for 2 weeks and obviously you would have to go to school with your hair down so I would suggest you to do some Bantu knots, flat twist, or a pretty perm rod set (you can even do it into a Mohawk) and just think about when your hair gets really long and curly, people who talk about you will want the hair you have. I wish you much luck in transitioning to natural hair!!!! Remember you can’t always think what people say about you, everyone is going to judge you with EVERYTHING you do, and ANYWAY you look!

      • Hey. I am also 15 leaving in the UK and i have been thinking of transitioning as well without the big chop of course this i because my hair has come to the point where i cant tell what the hair type and is breaking. Currently i have been using sulfate free shampoo’s and conditioners and a lot less heat in my hair than i use to. I have not trimmed my hair since i took out my braids and have been applying castor and coconut oil to my hair approx. twice a week. Do you guys have any advice on what i can do to get my hair back the way it was intended to be?

    • you are definitely not on your own im 15 aswell and i started going natural from july 3rd 2015, my hair is just about reaches my neck i know nothing about my natural except that it is curly i live in london.
      most girls in my school are against natural hair but i want to embrace mine.

  • I started transitioning about a year ago ( my last perm was Oct 2013) . I’ve worn protective styles over that year but my hair is now 85% natural and I’m considering getting the permed ends chopped off. I simply don’t know how to style this new texture and its multiple textures.

  • hi, i have had relaxed hair since i was 3 and i want to show my natural beauty but im only 14 i dont want to have to struggle every morning trying to put y hair up but im also dont with the cemicals and the flat ironing. i just need help and every day advice. i love the way natural hair looks and i dont care what people say at school i just want to show my inner natural beauty

    • Hi Keiasia-
      Thank you so much for your comment. Everyday natural hair advice really depends on what you want to do with your hair everyday.
      For instance, right now, my hair is in a twist and pinned style. I put my satin cap on at night, take it off in the morning and go to work. That’s it. I won’t add any water (moisture) to until wash day.
      But if it began to look dry, I could mist it with my water and almond oil in the spray bottle.
      If I was wearing a wash and go, I’d spritz with water and every 2-3 days and apply a light weight leave in. Of course, I’d wear my satin cap every night.

      I hope this helps.

      Be sure to join the Curl Centric news letter in the top right side of page!

      Kira

      • Hi my names Therese im 14 and in the process of transitioning. I have relaxed hair and im curious on if any curling products would still show me good defined curls even though im relaxed. Or would it be a good choice to just wait and see how long my natural hair will come?Any advice?

  • Hello, I am 34 years old and just decided to transition from relaxed to natural. It has only been a month since my last relaxer and I’m getting kind of discouraged. My hair now set right on my shoulders and it’s shedding daily. Part of me want to do the big chop and part of me don’t. I would appreciate any all advice.

    Thanks

    • Hi Nikii- If you are experiencing shedding, try incorporating protein into your regimen. I personally use Aphogee 2 Step about every 10 weeks or so. I have found it very common that women experience shedding and breakage when they stop relaxing. Breakage generally happens at the point where the new growth and relaxed hair meet.

      Here is my video that shows my step by step process!
      I hope it helps!

      Kira
      http://youtu.be/e5PBBkyeeqM

    • I’m 32 and have been natural for 6 years. I do not have a regimen for my hair as I wear sew-ins through out the year with only washing and conditioning my hair in between. My curl pattern is not defined and my hair is very thin. I have no idea on what product works for my hair. I NEED HELP.. I don’t know where to start. I have a concern that I suffer from psoriasis of the scalp and this may be why my hair is thinned out and not growing. Any tips for my situation???

      • Hi Shandra,
        Your regimen is whatever you do to your hair on a regular and frequent basis. So your regimen includes what you do to your prior to, during and after the install.

        I’d like for you to read our Natural Hair 101. It is the best place to start.

        If you think you suffer from psoriasis, please consult a dermatologist. In the meantime, while you are waiting for your appointment.

        Be sure to join the email newsletter for more natural hair tips!

        Kira

  • .hello , it has been about 5 months since i’ve had a relaxer . i just would like to know the ups , the downs , and how hard/easy it is to be natural w/o the big chop ! thank you .

  • Hello everyone , I’m 18 and I made the transition from relaxed to natural w out the big chop back in September I love the way my natural hair is starting to come through , although the thicker the hair the harder it is for me to maintain but for a natural hair style I get my hairstylist (sister) to cornrow with ought fake hair and it’s helped my hair dramatically I’m and very excited to continue this journey ….STAY CALM AND LOVE NATURAL HAIR ! anyone have any advice for me

  • Hi. I’m 13 and have been thinking about transitioning. However, it seems kind of hard. I really want to do this. My hair is sort of thin and stops at my shoulder. I want to do this for the best of my hair and it also seems wonderful. Is there any advice or steps I should take to start off transitioning?. Thank you.

  • Hi, I am 15 years old and I want to transition my hair to natural, but everyone says that my hair will fall out. How do I prevent this from happening?

    • Hi Tolu,
      The point where your new growth and relax hair meet is called the line of demarcation. 4 ways that help reduce your hair from breaking while growing out your relaxer is to use protein treatments to strengthen the area between where your new growth and relaxed hair meet, keep your hair moisturized, not putting stress on that area of the hair with tight styles and wearing styles that do not require heat. It is possible to transition without having your hair relaxed hair break off. You have to explore and find the way that you are most comfortable with. I am happy to help you so if you have any specific questions, you can leave them here or join our newsletter as well.

      Kira :-)

  • Hey I have never had a perm but my mom used to hot comb my hair on the stove. I am now 20 and have not done that since i was 12 and i stopped flat ironing my hair .. How do you protect your ends and what products are the best

    • Hi Sheila,
      Protecting your hair is done by choosing the the right styles, your maintenance (regimen), also by giving your hair enough moisture and protein. Don’t choose styles that are tight. The hair should be moisturized often enough so it is pliable. Hair needs protein for strength and the protein helps to keep the moisture in. Finding the products that work well with your will be based on your experiences with the product. And I have put together a starter list. Simply sign up for the email newsletter by clicking the How To Grow Natural Hair in the right side bar. Also, there is a product listing on the Natural Hair 101 page for you also. This link will open in a new window :-) Shelia, I hope you find this information helpful. Keep me updated on your progress and what products you decide to use :-)

      Kira

  • My name is Janae and I have kept braids in for a couple months. In between the time I get my next set of braids and I wash my actual hair ( no perm in 4 months), what kind of styles should I wear that does not involve heat? My hair stops right under my ears by the way.

    • Hi Janae!
      This is a great questions and since you have taken down your braids, strengthen your strands, with Aphogee 2 Step. Don’t forget to always using a moisturizing conditioner that doesn’t contain protein as well like Aphogee Balance Moisturizing Conditioner.
      As for styling, start practicing your twisting and braiding techniques. They require 0 heat and it will be something you can use throughout your journey. Don’t twist or braid too tight. It shouldn’t hurt. I’d love see pics of your work.

      Kira

  • Hello, i’m 15 and I decided to go natural, last time I had a perm was last month. I started putting my hair in a style but I want to know like for my wash days do I need to use a typical type of shampoo and conditioner or deep conditioner? or use whatever I decide? I don’t really know anything about natural hair so far, I need help.

    • Hi Diamond-
      For now, just simply use the products you have on hand until they no longer work for you. After they no longer work for you, you can use the Curl Centric recommended products that is our gift when you join the newsletter.

      Remember to keep it simple and enjoy the journey!

      Kira

  • Hy, I just turn 16 3days ago. I’ve been on low cut for 7years and decided to start making my hair. I relaxed in November 2014, but haven’t since then. I’m transitioning and I don’t want to big chop, my hair is just at my neck and is shedding. Thanks alot for this article. It has really helped me to understand.

  • alight,so i have transitioned from 2014 December and had a big chop all the relax ends was removed from my head(trimmed of) and i have notice nice new growth because i have been doing protective styles(braids,twist out etc.)but i haven’t been doing this condition stuff only been shampooing my hair and my is natural now and is curly when i moisturize my hair but i notice that my ends are straight its like i haven’t trimmed when i did when i did my big chop don’t know what to do is it because i haven’t been conditioning my hair or something i have know clue please help?

    • Hey Olivaatv,
      Ok, so first off, start using conditioner. Even if it is a light rinse out or at least a leave in conditioner. Here are our recommended products are packaged up all neat and pretty for your here. It’s a great guide and resource for you to start from.

      If have experienced straight ends myself AND I use conditioner :-) As my hair grew longer in the front, the ends became straighter. So, just like you, I thought I didn’t cut all the relaxer out.
      But after chopping a total of about 5 inches off, I realized I had completely big chopped and that was just a mystery of natural hair. So, to help “cover up” the mystery, I started coiling my ends in the front and
      I stopped pulling my hair uber straight in the front. I also realized that my hair is finest in the front were the straight ends are as well. I saw more coiliness and less straightness when I started adding Aphogee 2 Step Protein Treatments to my regimen.

      You should definitely start including a conditioner and protein treatment of some type in your routine. Protein treatments with hydrolyzed proteins are better at strengthening the strands by temporarily mending damaged along the hair strand.

      Kira

  • Hi my name is Deiondra I’m 15 and I have hair problems um the middle part of my hair is shorter than the rest of my hair and I haven’t had a perm in my head in about 5 or 6 months I’ve had braids in my hair during that time and when I took them down my hair is natural at my roots it’s about 3 inches tall but the end of my hair isn’t natural it’s straight and my hair is very damage (cause I put a lot of chemicals in my hair growing up) and I really wanna go natural but my mom doesn’t want me to cut my hair and I was just wondering if you could help me with my hair situation because it is very uneven and I don’t know how to go natural everywhere with damage hair

  • Hi I’m 17 and I also want to go natural without the big chop and my hair is shoulder length. I’ve tried the braids and weave but it drops my hair more and it’s summer so I don’t want a bunch of extra hair making me feel warmer the I already am. Are there ways that I can style my hair without it looking all frizzy.

  • I have been transitioning for 5 months and my is very thick at the roots but when I wash it its a 3c curl pattern. Is that my natural hair texture. But when I blow dry it gets back straight.

  • I really need help I’m 15 and my hair is like damaged badly and I want to go natural but I’m thinking like there is no way I can do that with hair like mines. Every time I take my hair out and wash it’s like dry I keep it moisturized and everything but it doesn’t seem to be working and I really want to go natural big chop or not. But on the other hand my hair gets so nappy and tangled sometimes I want to cut it all of but my mother always puts relaxers and perms I’m so tired of it it’s like my hair is ruined. And I absolutely love hair but Could I go natural is it possible with so many perms that have broken of my hair? And braids that are to tight? I really want to but I have no clue what to do to my hair any more. One last thing I alway like get my hair done in braids but right after I take em out it’s time for a perm and she use to do it full head and then only roots and not my hair and now she does my edges and it is still not helping. Now I’m starting to get sewins my hair hasn’t showed any improvement and I keep asking if like I can stop getting relaxers but my hair is to nappy do you have any suggestions??????!?!

    • Hi Nya-
      Thank you for posting your question.
      I’d love to hear more about what you do to hair on a daily basis.
      How often do you use heat and what products do you use?
      Does your hair wet really easily and it dries quickly?

      Kira- Curl Centric

      • Well to answer your last question yes. And I use this oil called hair food and since I’m wearing a sew in now I jut flat iron my part and I grease my scalp. And when my hair is out I wash it and blow dry it and it gets dry and breaks of a lot. And when I wash it I use TRESeme . I use hair lotion when I flat iron and when I wrap my hair when it’s out I use this foam moose I think.

  • I’m 17 and I really want to transition because I feel like it’s finally time for me to embrace my natural hair. My hair is just past my shoulders and I’m trying to do everything I can to make sure it grows a couple of inches before I stop getting perms. My mom insists on me getting the big chop (she has a taper cut) but I refuse because I don’t think really short hair will suit me and I personally I don’t like it. But how can I convince her to let me transition without the big chop? She believes I will have a lot of damage if I don’t.

    • Hi Jamie,

      I’d love to hear what you have has worked for you so far.

      Most often you don’t find the new growth damaged from transitioning. The damage mostly is seen on the relax hair. As your new growth comes in, the relaxed hair appears stringer. Also their is a line of demaraction where breakage often occurs.

      Reading our Natural Hair 101 would be a great read for you. Also, it may help to support your perspective as you speak with your mom. http://www.curlcentric.com/natural-hair-101/

      Kira

  • Hi, I haven’t had a relaxer in my hair in 3 years. My hair is straight when it’s wet. But last week I noticed curls coming in in the back and waves in the roots.. Do you think that I have heat damage or is my hair still relaxed?

    • Hi Nevaeh,
      Based on what you’ve stated, it could be both, heat damage and relaxed hair. If you haven’t cut the relaxed ends off (big chop), and the hair hasn’t broken off, you still have relaxer on your hair.

      Now, if you have big chopped, and you use heating tools, too often on high heat, it’s a good chance that you have heat damage.

      Keep in mind that the new growth doesn’t have relaxer on it. However, it can become heat damaged if you are using heat on it.

  • Well I have relaxed hair and I’m going to stop getting it relaxed and let my hair grow out natural while the relaxed hair is attached and when my natural hair gets to a good length im going to cut the relaxed part of my hair but I’m worried that my hair will start falling out at the roots because I’ve been doing some research and it says that if i do what I’m trying to do my hair will fall out at the roots so I’m really worried and need some advice because i dont wanna do the big chop

    • hey Jessica,
      If you decide to stop relaxing your hair, the hair typically doesn’t fall out at the roots.
      What can happen is the hair breaks at line of demarcation, which is the spot where the new growth begins and relaxed hair ends.
      I transitioned for 16 months, successfully, with no breakage.
      The hack is learning how to blend the textures.

      Kira

  • lt wont fall l have done it. just try keep keep your hair tied either weaves or braids it will grow and maybe at acertain timt untie it for cleaning, condition it and get your braids again till your a confident enough to leave it untied

  • Hi Im 14 and I decided to transition to natural hair and it’s been 3 months. I wear braids as a protective style and my hair seems to be growing at fine rate. I have a a problem though, this year I have prom and I really want to go without braids but I dont know what to do. I dont want to straighten it becausr of heat damage. One last thing and it’s about trimming. I decided not to do th big chop but how to I trim my own hair, I dont want to go to the salon because I dont want them using heat on my hair. Anyway good luck to everyone transitioning.YOU CAN DO IT!!!!

  • Hi, I just turned 20. The last time I relaxed my hair was in January. I cut a lot of hair but I didn’t go for the big chop. My back hair didn’t take long to transition at all. I now have a lot of shrinkage at the back and sides. Only the front is still relaxed. I keep trimming it. How long more before my front hair is totally transitioned in front

  • I have been transitioning from relaxed to natural hair for going on 5 months I been doing sew ins and box braids and haven’t put any heat up on it at all I feel as if my hair is breaking I try to use edge control and It does not hold up my edges what do I do? I am at my breaking point. I read a lot of articles and I been following them and I feel as if they are not working.

    • Hi Kelly,

      With transitioning hair, it’s possible that you do feel breakage and here is why. There is a very delicate spot on the hair strand. The spot sits where your new growth and relaxed hair meet. This point is called the line of demarcation.

      Depending on a few things like the tightness of your braids, the tension of the thread with the sew in and how often you moisturized so the hair doesn’t dry out. All of these things can contribute to breakage. If the hair is breaking at the line of demarcation, the hair on the floor or in your comb is probably a straight piece of your relaxed hair. If the hair includes a clear translucent bulb on the end, the hair resembles both your new growth and relaxed hair, more than likely , it’s a shed hair.

      My immediate suggestion is that you can tie your edges down. Depending on your hair, adding product to your hair will not make it lie flat and will need to be coaxed. Simply tieing a scarf around your edges at night can give you the results you are looking for.

      I’d love to know what you have tried that didn’t work.

      Thank you for your comment.

      Kira
      #BeCurlCentric

  • Hello, I’m Asia and I’m 15-years-old. I’ve been wanting to transition for a while now but I’m afraid to do a big chop simply because my face is too round for a shortcut. I haven’t used a relaxer or put heat in my hair since the summer and I’ve been wearing protective styles such as braids and crochet but I haven’t seen much progress. Do you know any products I can use to increase hair growth?

    • Hi Asia,
      One thing we all need is a form of support through our journey. I highly encourage you to invite your mom to be apart of your journey and to ask us questions via our community. This will also help her to understand what you are going through and to be a better support system for you :-)

      What you think matter so don’t think negative or limiting thoughts about yourself. When you believe negative things or put limits on yourself, it creates fear. Start believing now that anything is possible, including you wearing shorter hair. Here’s the thing, your hair will only be short if you want to it :-)

      As long as your generally healthy, and not taking any medications with side effects that affect your hair growth, your hair is growing. Now, there are a few possibilities: it’s possible that you are experiencing alot of shrinkage with your new growth and your hair hangs less. Also, it’s possible that you experienced breakage on your ends and you aren’t retaining the length. Then there is the possibility of breakage at the line of demarcation (where your natural hair and relaxed hair meet).

      Here are a few tips you can do:
      Read our growth guide: http://bit.ly/2dplmGk
      Take pictures of your hair every 3 months to actually see the difference. Be sure you are wearing the same style so you have a good comparison.
      Growth is an external process so eating as balanced as possible is a good start: http://bit.ly/2edrP7g
      Regular exercise to help reduce stress is another tool. These are products and tools you need to help maximize your growth process.

      #BeCurlCentric

      Kira

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