Saturday, September 7, 2013

What To Expect When You Big Chop

If you do decide to transition, and even if you don't, you should do research on what to expect because natural hair is obviously not like relaxed hair.  Here are my top 4 things that I am happy I learned before I big chopped:

1.   Your hair may be in "shock" for about 3 months after you big chop.  During that time, your hair may be frizzy and your curls may refuse to clump together as your hair adjusts to its new found freedom and relearns how to behave naturally.  The relaxed ends tend to weigh down the hair; and, once the relaxed ends are gone, the natural hair is finally able to curl up the way it wants to but it has to remember how.  Therefore, months after the relaxed ends are gone, your curl pattern may begin to change and your curls may clump.  Then, six months later, just as you are beginning to get the hang of your hair and increase it's moisture level, the curl pattern may change again as your hair gains more length/weight.

2.   You will need to infuse a lot of moisture into your hair initially.  This will get better as your hair gets healthier and reaches its optimum moisture level.  Initially, to moisturize my hair, I did frequent conditioner-only washes (known as co-washes); deep conditioned once or twice a week; rarely shampooed my hair; and spritzed my hair with a heavy oil/water mix twice a day.  Now, I shampoo with a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo and deep condition once a week, and I only co-wash in between shampoos when I need to, like after a really intense workout.  I still spritz my hair twice a day, but I suspect this will decrease as I continue to raise my hair's moisture levels.

3.   You may become a product junkie.    I was a product junkie when I was relaxed until I figured out which products worked for my relaxed hair.  Once I went natural, I had to begin that process again.  Many of the products that worked for my relaxed hair no longer worked as my hair changed texture and porosity.  I am now just over a year into my transition, and I only recently have started to nail down my staple products.  I tried recommendations from others; but, as you will see, not every product will work for every natural.  In subsequent posts, I'll try to provide some suggestions on how to make your journey a little less expensive than mine was.

4.   Not everyone will be as excited about your hair as you are and it won't always be magically easy, but that's ok.  You may assume that after you big chop, you will automatically grow long hair, you will miraculously always know how to style it, and your friends and family will all be thrilled to learn about your endeavors.  Not true.  If you don't properly care for your natural hair, it will break just like relaxed hair.  Not everyone can just wash and go, especially as the hair gets longer, so you will need to learn how to style your hair.  Your friends and family may be happy for you, but they won't be as in awe at your hair as you might think.  That is why it is important to remember that, at times, your journey will be a labor of love.  It may be frustrating at times, you may have setbacks; but it is worth it in the end if you did this for you.
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