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The Big Chop: Should You Cut It All Off?


To Big Chop or Not to Big Chop

For the uninitiated, the “big chop” refers to the action of chopping all of one’s hair off all in one, big, well...chop!  It’s not just a cute trim, and it’s not a funky style. It’s literally a BIG CHOP - you’re getting rid of all your hair. It’s getting whacked! But why would someone do this? What compelled so many women to make the phrase “Big Chop” part of our lexicon?

Sick of Relaxing 

The phrase “Big Chop” started years ago just as the natural hair movement was really starting to pick up steam. People had become tired of being “slaves, as they called it, to chemical relaxers. There is nothing wrong with relaxed hair per se, but once it starts to become a burden that you have to deal with each month without fail or you’ll go bald? You have a problem. Many women started to wonder what life would look like if they didn’t have to worry about getting a mandatory retouch every six weeks. Some said it was like checking in with a parole officer: miss your appointment, and pay the price!

Many of these same women recalled that when they were children, they’d enjoyed long, thick, kinky and curly hair. What happened?? Would they ever be able to get long, thick healthy hair? They wondered what would happen if they decided to ditch the relaxer and pursue a more natural and healthy hair lifestyle.

Going Natural

Women, seemingly en masse,  stopped relaxing their hair. Woo-hoo! Look at those curls bursting through the scalp! Look at those shiny kinks! We - ahem! cough! - they were in awe of and in love with the wildness of their virgin hair. What some of them quickly noticed, however, was that as their hair grew out, they started to experience breakage. This is because the hair at the roots was a completely different texture than the relaxed ends of the hair.

They soon realized that in order to maintain their glorious new growth, they had to baby the relaxed ends of the hair while the new, virgin hair was growing in so that the damaged ends didn’t disturb and destroy the new growth. With some people, this technique worked. They were able to style their hair in such a way that the new growth was unaffected by the relaxed ends. They could maintain the two textures, slowly trimming away the relaxed ends until all that was left was glorious new hair.

Birth of the Big Chop


Other women weren’t so lucky. People who had issues meshing the two textures quickly became frustrated. They were unable to protect the new growth as the old growth grew out.  Finally, fed up with having to maintain two textures - which suddenly felt like even more work than dealing with relaxed hair - many women took matters into their own hands. They simply chopped it all off. 

And hence, the “big chop” was born.

Reasons You Should Do a Big Chop

There are many different reasons that someone may decide to do a big chop. Check out below, and see if any of these reasons jump out at you!

1. Damaged Hair

Big Chop if you’ve damaged your hair beyond repair. You will literally be wasting your time if you try to salvage hair that has been severely damaged. This includes hair that’s been heavily bleached, dyed, over processed or neglected for long periods of time. Once hair has been destroyed, you can’t bring the strands back to life. It’s better to just start over from the beginning.

2. Two Textures

Big chop if you’re going natural and you’ve got damaged or relaxed ends tacked on to your new growth. If there’s too much of a difference between the two textures, you’re going to experience breakage that will only get worse. If you have weak, relaxed ends at the ends of your hair and thick, dense new growth at your roots, the weak ends could split all the way up the shaft, destroying your new growth.

3. Failed Transition

If you find that your current method of transitioning isn’t working, it may be time to big chop.  Sometimes people have very elaborate transitioning plans, using a combination of hair products, styling tricks and hairstyles like extensions in order to safely transition. Whether that transitioning plan actually works depends on your particular hair. If you find that your hair is getting worse rather than getting better, and the damage is simply becoming unmanageable, it may be time to do a big chop.


4. Change 


Big chop if you’re looking for a change. You could have the most fabulous hair in the world, and then one day you decide that you’re done with it. Your friends may squeal and fake heart attacks if you even MENTION cutting it off, but it’s your hair. If you want the change, do it. It’s just hair.

5. Health Reasons

If you’re dealing with a sickness or a health issue, you may notice that your hair has taken a beating. Stress, illnesses like cancer and fibromyalgia, and other conditions can have a devastating effect on hair. These situations could leave hair in a horrible state.  In those instances, it's okay to just let go. Doing a big chop would be an opportunity for you to get rid of the old and bring in the new both metaphorically and literally. 

At the end of the day, a big chop is your choice. Make it, and own it. 


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