So if you’re reading this it’s safe to say that you’ve already made the decision to “GO NATURAL,” or go BACK natural.
That decision alone is a huge one. Prepare yourself though. It definitely won’t be the last huge decision you’ll make as you start this new journey to healthier hair (i.e. products, regimes/routines, hairstyles/protective styles,etc).
Before I get into the actual post, I want to rewind to the beginning. It’s a place that many of us naturalistas have been. Yep! You guessed it.
FLASHBACK (& coincidentally, its Friday)
In that instant, I’m sure someone shook, flinched, ugh’ed and did a “yeaaaaa girl, I remember” as you literally had a flashback to sitting in the beauty salon for HOURS. Most of your time was spent under the dryer,but before then, you saw yourself not scratching or parting your hair the night before your relaxer. You remember getting to the salon at the crack of dawn and waiting 2 hours just to have your neck, forehead and ears slathered in grease. The relaxer was applied, and after 5-10 minutes your started to feel the burn, but held a straight face. “Is it burning yet,” your beautician asked. “No, I’m okay,” you replied. All because you wanted your roots EXTRA…BONE straight. You finally had to give up the front because it was burning forreal. You want to pat and scratch, but you can’t.
When she finally massaged the relaxer out of your head you felt relieved. Then you touched your hair and it felt so slick..just like you wanted it. Your beautician slaps that moose on your hair and wraps it tight.
After 2 hours (if you were lucky) under the dryer, she finally put you back in her chair and unwrapped your hair. You scratched, and despite not scratching your head the night before, you STILL managed to get chemical burns, that will scab over and give you plenty of scabs to scratch out later (ugh!).
Because we’re all women, chances are we all reacted the same. “DANGGGG…I look good! I’m feelin’ myself. **blows kisses and strikes several poses**” All was well until it was time for your next touch-up, and the process started all over again.
Now, in the event that you have never had a relaxer (or perm as we say it), let me tell you what it is. A relaxer is a chemical (lye) used to straighten the curls/coils/kinks out of hair, and is most heavily used in the Black community. This chemical (lye), which is usually reapplied 1 to 2 times a month, is applied to the roots and left on for 10-15 minutes depending on how receptive your the hair is. In the natural hair community, relaxers are seen as…well…the devil of hair products (for lack of a better term). While relaxers aren’t good for anyone (remember, it’s a chemical..that goes on your head…where your brain is), a common myth is that your hair can’t be healthy if you have a relaxer.
There are plenty of women who have relaxers, and have beautiful and healthy hair. Just because my hair needs additional moisture doesn’t mean that yours does. I hope you caught the comparison between the two. If not, just keep reading ahaha;).
Any who, relaxers, for some, can be more horrible than others. Side effects of relaxers gone wrong can include, but not are not limited too:
Hair breakage, hair thinning, lack of hair growth, scalp irritation, scalp damage, permanent hair loss, skin discoloration
Okay. Enough rambling about relaxers and salon visits. Back to the topic.
I remember when I decided to go natural, and I remember the day that I decided to do my big chop. I was 19 or 20. I was in my dorm room with a friend, and I remember feeling fed up with my hair being so thin and brittle. I grabbed a pair of scissors and my tall mirror and I started to chop! My guy friend walked in and yelled, “What are you doing,” in the most surprised voice.
A few months later, my hair had grown back really nicely; however, my curl pattern was reallyyyyy loose. For the next 2-3 years I wore my natural hair off and on. Mostly off. I wore kinky twists, braids, sew-ins and quick weaves, with maybe a day or so in between to let my hair breath. That’s not the best practice, I know, but at that time I had no clue how to care for my hair.
Check out some pics of my hair journey below.
(2011) Me, with longer relaxed hair
(2011) Me, after I decided that I wanted a short and sassy haircut (At this point in time, I wasn’t getting relaxers as regularly as I had been in the past. My hair had begun to thin more and more from not caring for the relaxed hair properly, and excessive flat ironing.)
(2012, Left) Me, after finally doing my big chop/(2012, Right) Me, about a month or two after doing my big chop
(2015) Me, in one of the many sew-ins that I had. At this time, I had a closure, but leave out around the front and edges. My hair straightens well, but when water/sweat hits it, it immediately reverts backs to its curl. I was flat ironing my hair 2-3 times A DAY to blend and keep it blended with the wavy hair. The excessive use of heat on the front of my hair drastically loosened my curl pattern. As my hair started to grow out, it was curly at the root and bone straight on the ends. It looked like I was transitioning. In November or December 2015, I cut all of the straight ends off of my hair and it was SHORT! I wanted to cry, but knew that it was necessary for my hair to grow out. Over a year later, the front is still (short) not as long as the back, but my hair is healthy!
All that being said, here’s my personal opinion.
But…keep reading and I’ll explain why.
Transitioning vs The Big Chop
The transitioning process usually stems from the fear of cutting your hair off. As women, our hair is kind of like a crown. It’s seen as something that adds to our “attractiveness,”and boosts our self-confidence. Not only that, but we express ourselves through what we choose to do with it. The thought of it being cut short, or off all together is terrifying. I understand. I want you to remember something though…It Grows Back! Be Patient. Yes, It’s Growing. Be Patient (link below).(https://lagorditachronicles.wordpress.com/2016/08/06/yes-its-growing-be-patient/)
In my opinion, transitioning is harder than just cutting it off. You’re basically battling two hair types, kinky/curly/coily and straight. Natural hair requires a ton of time, patience and…product, whereas relaxed hair is pretty one track. Trust me. It is hard enough to properly care for curly hair without having to care for straight hair too.
Again, depending on the type and texture of curly hair that you have, it may require more time, product and styling than others. Sometimes, the products that work for your curly hair may be too heavy, or not sufficient enough for the straight hair, and vice versa.
Not to mention, 1. the straight hair hanging on to your curls are essentially dead ends that could prevent your hair from being healthy and retaining length and 2. the (protective) styles that you do for your curls may not be compatible for the relaxed hair. Damaged relaxed hair leads to split ends, which travel UP the hair strands and cause damage to otherwise healthy hair. Think about it.
Ultimately, the decision to continue transitioning or do the big chop is yours of course. In my eyes, you made the biggest decision and took the first step–You decided to go (back) natural. Now it’s up to you to educate yourself on how to care for your hair so that it can be healthy, grow long and prosper! By the way, you can still be beautiful after your big chop.