To chop, or not to chop? If you’re ready to embrace your natural texture, that is the question.
All jokes aside, the big chop is no small deal. When transitioning to natural hair, there’s no greater ultimatum than keeping your length or starting fresh by chopping off your relaxed locks.
If you’re leaning towards the latter, we can help you start on the rightly shaved path. Here are our top five big chop mistakes to avoid at the start of your natural hair journey.
#1 Setting Big Expectations
The path to natural hair is not straight (literally). Hair growth and new curl patterns can vary by individual, so once you’ve made the decision to get back to natural, embrace your own glorious journey by letting go of expectations and embracing the endless possibilities.
During such a big transition, it’s important to stay open-minded and caring with your beautiful healthy hair. When growing frustrated or doubtful, check that these expectations aren’t overtaking your energy:
- Hair growth rate – We know—once it’s gone, you can’t wait for your long hair to grow back. But hold tight after the big chop. On average, natural hair grows just one inch every three months. Proper moisturization and care can boost that growth rate, but only by a bit. So if you don’t see major transformation in just a few months, don’t lose hope. Your transitioning hair just needs some time!
- Appearance & texture – Once you go natural, you may have a new look about you—and that’s ok! New hair texture can emerge with growth. After longtime treatments, initial “scab hair” (very dry new growth) might trick you into thinking your natural hair is unhealthy. However, that new growth is simply the result of leftover chemicals working their way out of the scalp.
Hair is an incredibly personal trait, even an identity. Remember that any huge changes should make you feel comfortable, not in crisis. If you need time to adjust, start with a shoulder-length cut and go from there.
#2 Lack of Damage Control
For most people, going natural is a step towards hair health. One way to slow down that journey? Hair habits that don’t support healthy growth.
For maximum growth and shine, natural hair needs a routine that will deliver voluminous, silky curls and coils. After the big chop, stay away from these harmful, end-splitting habits to protect your new hair growth:
- Styling with hot tools (straighteners, curling irons, etc.)
- Blow drying
- Drying with a bath towel
- Using tight clips, headbands, or ponytail holders
- Sleeping on cotton or rough-texture pillowcases
- Sunbathing excessively
- Detangling with a small-tooth comb
- Brushing when dry
#3 Keeping Old Products
The big chop is more than a haircut—it’s a reset. You’ll be working with an entirely new hair texture, structure, and shape. And that means old hair products just won’t cut it.
As your hair grows back, take the opportunity to try new curly hair products on your natural strands. Not sure where to start? Professional stylists and hair care experts can steer you to the right natural hair care brands (hint hint: PATTERN Beauty). And to spare your bank account, look for brands that allow returns for products that aren’t working.
#4 Going Low-Moisture
The place where relaxed hair vs natural hair kiss is incredibly delicate. At its baby stage, your hair needs all the nourishment it can get—especially moisture.
When going natural, it’s easy to focus on curls, curls, curls. But moisturizing will set the groundwork for your curls and coils to shine. Take these moisturizing tips to heart for maximum hair health after the big chop:
- Avoid curl-definers – At this stage, your short hair doesn’t need curl definers as much as a deep condition moisturizer. Before picking up the styling gel, grab a deep conditioner like PATTERN’s Leave-In Conditioner, along with a protein treatment and oils. Investing in a high-quality, ultra-nourishing hair mask like our Transition Mask is another staple to incorporate into your hair care routine. These will bring out the greatest growth and curl definition as you embrace your natural hair journey.
- Choose the right oils – Not all oils are created equal. Fine hair needs lighter oils like jojoba or grapeseed for unsticky moisture, while dense hair needs penetrative oils like coconut or almond to moisturize deeply. Many people find it helpful to apply oils after conditioners. This is known as the LOC method (Leave-in conditioner, oil, cream).
- Add a sealant – Moisturizing is crucial, but a sealant makes all the difference when it comes to keeping locks nourished. By forming an outer layer on the hair cuticle, sealants lock in moisture. Add a sealant oil like our Jojoba Oil Blend as the final step in your natural hair care routine. You can even go for a classic shea butter.
#5 Trying Any Style
After the big chop, “short” is the only hairstyle option you’ve got. But once your natural hair starts to grow back, it’s time to explore even more protective hairstyles for transitioning hair.
Protective styles keep natural hair healthy, growing, and groomed. While you most likely won’t opt for a flat-ironed high ponytail, there are plenty of beautiful protective shapes with or without hair pieces. For different lengths, try out these on-trend protective styles:
- Marley twists (faux locs with twisted texture)
- Halo braid (one large braid wrapped around the head)
- Bantu knots
- Low ponytail with free curls
- Turban or bandana cover
PATTERN Beauty—From Chopped to Captivating Curls
We want you to enjoy the path to achieving luscious natural curls. With the right tools and tips on your side, the big chop could be the first step to your best hair yet.
Just booked your haircut? We can help with the post-salon care. PATTERN Beauty has every curly hair treatment under the sun, from hydrating mists to deep conditioners. With quality ingredients and specialty formulas, our products will make your unique texture shine from root to curly end.
- Castro, Joseph. "How fast does hair grow?" Live Science. 27 January, 2014. https://www.livescience.com/42868-how-fast-does-hair-grow.html
- "The 8 Most Common Big Chop Mistakes (According to Stylists) and How to Avoid Them." Ipsy. https://www.ipsy.com/blog/tips-to-avoid-big-chop-mistakes
- Dragani, Mina. "These 12 Habits are Damaging Your Hair." L'Officiel USA. 24 Juanuary, 2021. https://www.lofficielusa.com/beauty/12-habits-that-damage-hair
- Brown, Nikki. "The Best Sealant Hair Oils for Locking in Moisture." Style Caster. 28 August 2020. https://stylecaster.com/feature/best-sealing-oils-1151471/