How to Survive a Big Chop

About a year ago, I sat in the chair of the barber who had been cutting my the sides of my pixie cut and told him to take my hair as short as possible without completely shaving it. I explained that I was trying to get rid of all (or most) of my relaxed ends.

He asked me if I was sure, because once he cuts there’s no going back. I was nervous, but absolutely sure. So without hesitation I told him I was positive that I wanted to do it. Less than 20 minutes went by and I was a whole new person.

For a couple weeks after the cut, my boyfriend jokingly (and lovingly) called me “bald bae”. While I still very much so had hair, you could also very much so see scalp. I love how I look with short hair so I didn’t mind this length one bit. This leads me to my first bit of advice for anyone considering getting a big chop.

Don’t go super short unless you’re comfortable with short hair

You might ask yourself, ‘how will I know until I try it’? I’ll stop you right there. The time to find out is not when you’re also trying to understand a new texture. If I had not had short hair for years when I big chopped the initial grow back period would have been devastating. Truly and deeply. Hair grows back, but not that fast!

My advice to you is to transition until you hit a length you’re comfortable with and then big chop. Another option is to cut off in intervals and truly transition. This way you retain most of your length.

I’m impatient so I did not go this route, but I really should not be an example. Again, I had a pixie cut. There wasn’t very far to go!

Don’t set hair growth goals

Just go on the journey and see where you land. Don’t say you want your hair to be this length, by this time. That is a good way to set yourself up for disappointment.

Also, it’s important to have realistic expectations. I would have loved if my hair was a thriving shoulder length fro by now, but that was not plausible given where I started. That can happen for some people, but that is just plain old genetics my friends.

Focus on hair health

I’ve said this before, but hair health should be your main concern. Drink your water, take the vitamins, moisturize daily, deep condition, etc. I’ll let you in on a secret. People are more likely to compliment healthy short hair over long unhealthy hair. Speaking as someone who get compliments almost daily.

I am O-B-S-E-S-S-I-V-E about the health of my hair. It takes a minute to find the sweet spot of what your hair needs. Once you do, stick to it. I am still striving to get that long fro, but the fact the my hair is always shiny and bouncy is a great distraction from its current length.

If you feel like your hair isn’t growing then you might want to look at what you could be doing differently. Are you drinking enough water? Is it diet? Are you doing styles that are causing too much tension? Is it maybe the products you’re using? My best advice is to ask your hair stylist what they think you could change!

Don’t compare your journey to others

Biggest mistake – making any form of comparison. I have seen people have their hair grow back in what seem like minutes. I have also seen people who cut their hair before me and I’ve surpassed them in length/fullness. Everyone’s journey is different.

The truth about before/afters

I follow plenty of the hair accounts on Instagram and they love to post a good before/after. Some girls will post a picture one year apart and the only thing that comes to mind is how?! Not to throw shade, but I’ve noticed a lot of girls will post their hair in two different states.

In the first pic it will be a tight wash and go. In the second pic, it’s a stretched twist out or blow out. That is not an accurate depiction of hair growth!

Using myself for example, when I have my hair in its completely natural state it comes just below my ears (if humidity and shrinkage don’t get in the way). When it’s blown out, it’s shoulder length. So, if I were to post a before/after with my nearly bald hairdo and a blowout side by side, that would be pretty deceiving wouldn’t you say?

Again, I’m not coming for anyone. I just want us all to have an accurate understanding of what hair growth should look like.

Do curly length checks

This brings me to my next point. Curly hair is a completely different length from straight hair. To see how your hair is truly growing, look at two dry wash and go’s that are spread apart. I personally do length checks every 3 – 6 months. If you do it month to month you really can’t see the growth. If you do it three months apart, you should be able to see a difference.

Do protective styles to distract yourself

I hit what felt like a plateau in January. My hair was the little engine that could for a while, but then it hit this really awkward length. To get myself to stop concerning myself with my hair’s current state I got box braids.

While the braids were in I focused on keeping my scalp moisturized and that was about it. By the time I took them out six weeks later I had mostly pushed past the awkward length. My hair grew A LOT.

I’ve continued to do protective styles just to give myself a break from thinking about it. It’s hard to say it it growing more or if just keeping my eyes off it for a month or two makes it seem like it took a huge leap in length department. Either way, I’m happy.

Embrace hair accessories

Bobby pins, hair clips, and headbands are your best friend. My hair is long enough to slick into a ponytail, but not the kind of ponytail I’m comfortable wearing out in the world yet. So, pulling my hair back on bad or lazy hair day is not an option. On these days I rely on hair accessories to give me the look of actually trying with very minimal effort. Some days though, I just wear them because they’re so cute!

Wash hair at night

If your hair is prone to shrinkage like mine, my best advice is to wash your hair at night. Do it early enough that you have time to let it air dry before bed. Put a satin or silk scarf on and use the pineapple method (push curls to top of head) while you sleep. This will stretch the curls at your roots where the most shrinkage occurs.

Believe me when I say doing this makes a major difference. When I first wash my hair it shrinks so much that I look like freshly big chopped. I get at least two inches of length by sleeping on my hair before wearing it out.

Don’t get discouraged

This is the most important thing. You’re going to hit walls. It happens to everyone. Don’t let that get you down. Remember that it is not a matter of if your hair will flourish, it’s when!

Are you considering a big chop?