How To Go From Relaxed To Natural | Big Chop vs Long Term Transitioning

When considering embarking upon a natural hair journey hopeful naturals have to ask themselves a very important question: “To Transition or To Big Chop?” Personally, I’ve never struggled with that question. It was a no brainer for me. But for other hopeful naturals the decision is not always that easy.

“Do you have to shave off all your head to become natural?” The answer to that question is “Of course not”. But do you have to “Big Chop” in order to become a natural? The answer to that question is “Yes”.  At some point during your transition you have to relieve your hair of the relaxer in order to fully embrace and experience the joys of being called a natural.

In order to go natural one of the first things you have to do is make a conscious decision to return natural and then STOP relaxing your hair. This means no touch ups. Throw out the relaxer kits.

There are basically only two ways to return natural: 1) the big chop 2) transition. There is no magic product that will take you form relaxed to natural overnight. So forget about it. LoL!

What is the BIG CHOP (BC)?
To BC is the fastest transition ever. It simply means cutting off your relaxer once you have gained minimal new growth. You can also BC after several months of transitioning and have gained a decent few inches in new growth.

Pros of doing a BIG CHOP

Not having to deal with two textures
This can be one of the most frustrating things ever. It may even tempt you to get a relaxer, completely defeating the purpose of your decision to go natural. One texture is so much easier to deal with.

Products work better
This ties into the point above. When dealing with only one hair texture, you get a better understanding of how products work for your hair type.

Instant gratification
When you BC your journey starts immediately. You don’t have to wait for your hair to grow out or install weaves or braids. The deal is sealed and you get to watch your lovely locks grow from the root up.

If you love makeup and accessories it’s time to bring out the makeup kit and jewelry box. Long hair can sometimes detract from the accessories. Once you big chop your accessories will stand out more and will accentuate your natural beauty.


Cons of Doing the Big Chop

Dislike Short Hair
Ok so you love your long hair and can’t bear to part with it. The big chop is definitely not for you.

Limited Style Options
When it comes to styling your options will definitely be limited and you will be left with a teeny weeny afro (TWA).  And that in between stage where your hair has gain some length but still too short to pull in a pony tail can be just as stressful as the enemy line of demarcation because you will have no idea what to do with your hair. This would be a great time to get creative. Another option would be to wig or weave it up until your hair grows out.

What is Long Term Transitioning?
To long term transition is the process where you wait patiently for your relaxed hair to grow out to a length where you are comfortable enough to trim the relaxer off. This process can be as long or as short as you want it to be.

Pros of Transitioning

You get to keep your long hair
If you love your long hair and can’t bear to part with it, transitioning is definitely for you. You get to keep your relaxed hair for as long as you want. When you’re comfortable enough you can do the big chop.

You can wear your hair straight
 It is still possible to wear your hair straight by flat ironing the new growth but be careful not to do it too often less you heat damage the new growth.

Cons of Transitioning 

Can’t tell your real curl pattern
Because the relaxed ends of your hair weigh down your new growth you won’t be able to tell the real texture and curl pattern of your hair. So until your rid your hair of the relaxed ends there will be some uncertainty.

Breakage at the line of demarcation
 The hair is prone to breakage where the two textures connect which is actually the weakest part of the hair. The hair becomes uneven and you may end up losing more hair than you wanted to and eventually have to end up doing a big chop much sooner than you anticipated.

You might be tempted to relax again
Once there’s new growth there comes a point when the two textures become a bit difficult to manage. At this point it’s easy to get frustrated, give up and revert to the creamy stuff.

Products don’t work the same
The products that work for your relaxed hair may not work for your natural hair and vice versa. This makes choosing hair products difficult and it becomes a lot of work to maintain the two textures.


Comments from people who transitioned please. Or tell us why you chose to big chop. Thanks dolls!


21 thoughts on “How To Go From Relaxed To Natural | Big Chop vs Long Term Transitioning

  1. Big Chop, I walked into the barbershop and made my request. he made me sit a few minutes to rethink my position. I had already made up my mind. It about a year and my hair is a bit wavy and can fit into a ponytail with a lil puff

  2. As of right now I don’t see it being that difficult lol, but the longest I went without putting chemicals or heat to my hair was 4 or 5 months. I’m mostly worried about how my hair is gonna be once it starts to get cold.

    • Protective styles my dear and ensure that your hair stays moisturized at all times.

      The longest I’ve been without a relaxer was about 6 months or so and that was deliberate. But then eventually I return to the perm kit again. Sigh. lOl! I’m three years strong post relaxer now. Yay me!

  3. Transitioned for 5 months because I was in the US and did not want strangers cutting my hair. When I returned home, BC.

  4. I big chopped TWICE. I’m one of them that needed instant gratification from cutting my hair. I absolutely HATED the two textures so I know for a fact that transitioning for more than 3 months was completely out the question.

  5. Well I am into month three of my transition and i am finding it a bit difficult. Currently I am wearing the natural twist braids.. But when it comes to work and going out I don’t find them dressy enough.. the thing about braids is that you hair is not washed or treated regularly so three months in and I am not even sure what my real texture is…*sigh*

    • Oh my. Well I’ve seen some pretty updo’s with braids. Check out ome of the natural hair facebook pages including Natural Soul Sistas.

      You also sound like u may be ready for the big chop. Have u given it any thought?

      • Why u scared girl. I have a friend who was EXTREMELY apprehensive about doing the BC b/c she was worried about the same things u did. After she did it u can’t get her to grow back her hair. lOl. She has kept it low for the past year.

  6. I transitioned for a year on 2 occassions. Both times I used braids to transition with a 2 week ‘breather’ between removing the braids and getting them redone. In that way my hair didn’t suffer from excessive breakage from over-manipulation of the 2 different textures. Did my last BC in January 2012 and definitely won’t be looking back at the creamy crack!

    • Good for you Renee. It’s just a matter of preference. Some have patience like Job to transition while others are brave and anxious to start their journey with a BC. Thanks for reading Renee!!!!

  7. To this day I really hate that I didn’t BC and learn my hair better. I transitioned by wearing a sew-in and then once I cut all the relaxer out, I still flat ironed my hair straight for like a year never bothering to get to know my curls.

      • I just took a summer off of styling kept it braided or flat twisted all summer (literally) and work a lace-front. It grew so much! I continued to do honey washes and deep condition it and I swear its grown and gotten fuller. I am done with that though and wearing my curls in a roller set. I take perm-rods and roll up damp hair, sleep and in the morning separate them. It lasts for like 6 days and only gets bigger and bigger as the days go on. Its by far my favorite.

  8. Im transitioning and I have been fighting with my hair lol But I am definitely not going back to a relaxer. My edges are completely natural I literally just chopped those off because they are short but I am having the hardest time finding a gel that works for them so I can blend it with my half wigs 😦

  9. I have stopped relaxing for over a year now and i am gonna do my B/C today. kioa nervous, i don’t know how i am going to maintain my hair, i usually put weaves but now i wanna embrace my natural hair. can you help me on how to maintain my hair after the b/c, by the way is dying a bad idea?

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