If you already went through the big chop (cutting off your relaxed hair to get back to your natural texture) and subsequent regrowth stage once, you may be surprised to hear that some folks with afro-textured hair do the big chop a second time to fully realize their hair dreams. While cutting everything off is certainly the quickest way to grow a healthy head of hair, it can be a long journey to get back to the length you're looking for. The idea of doing it again might be a bit nightmare-inducing.
I debated going for my first big chop for years until substantial chemical damage basically made the decision for me. I knew that years of abuse from heat, chemical-relaxers, and treating my hair like garbage was ultimately causing so much breakage that I would never get the length I wanted without doing something drastic. The quickest way I could grow out my natural texture was to cut off the relaxed hair and start over again.
With the fragile strands of afro-textured hair, getting any sort of significant growth often seem like an uphill battle. However, whether due neglect or just a desire to switch things up again, you just might want to cut it all off again.
If you're feeling agony over your current hair state, keep in mind that there are some things to consider before you go for big chop number two. It's always going to be a pretty foolproof way to get rid of damaged strands, but it's not your only option.
1. Your Capacity For A Demanding Hair Routine
Personal habits are going to be a driving force in deciding to big chop again. I truly believe that if I wasn't basking in the world of natural beauty professionally, my hair would not have made it this far. I had terrible hair habits in the past, mostly because I hate the entire process of doing my hair — by a professional or by myself. Demanding jobs, young children, and a whole slew of other life stuff can make finding time to detangle and condition afro-textured hair difficult.
If you know your hair routine is the reason your hair isn't looking so hot, you may find a short style will be easier to style and keep healthy. After all, less hair means shorter wash days!
2. The Level Of Your Heat Damage
On my list of fears, nestled between large crowds and small spaces, is heat damage. According to stylist Ouidad, the founder of Ouidad Studios, heat damage cannot be reversed — no matter how good your conditioner is. In fact, she tells Bustle, the only way to get rid of heat damage is to slowly grow it out little by little, cutting off the damage ends. Hair that's suffered from heat damage often looks lifeless with an inconsistent texture that includes spots of curly, wavy, and straight hair. If this sounds like your current struggle, you should seriously consider doing the big chop again, especially if it's happening all over your head (rather than just at the ends).
3. Your Hair Regimen
Perhaps the reason for your hair woes has to do with your hair regimen. Washing with harsh shampoos or not keeping the hair moisturized can give you mechanical damage that may seem impossible to get rid of. The good news is that these types of mistakes can be fixed fairly easily.
According to beauty site Black Girl with Long Hair, procedural issues in your hair routine can be easily changed — and that could slow some of the damage so that you might just need a trim rather than going through the whole chop again.
The unique curls of afro-textured hair are prone to breakage, so it's easy to accidentally do something that damages your strands. Spend some time journaling your hair routine to find out what's working and what's killing your hair vibe before you big chop: It's likely a switch up in routine could change everything.
Some of the most common causes of breakage are the ingredients in our hair care like alcohol, petroleum, and mineral oil. You should also check your tools: Heat is a major cause of damage and so are the metal fasteners on scrunchies and hair ties. If you've noticed recurring themes like heat styling or pulling the hair into a bun in your hair diaries, try switching up your habits before you chop everything off again.
4. Your Split Ends
Yes, split ends can be hard to deal with, and they are more noticeable when/if you straighten your hair. The verdict over whether you can actually get rid of split ends without cutting them is still out, but I've noticed keeping my ends moist and detangled at least helps the appearance of my split ends. If you're about to chop off your hard work of hair growth over a few split ends, I suggest first checking out natural remedies for split ends or just getting a trim by a professional to alleviate a bad case of the splits.
5. Your Desire For Change
It's likely your dreams of a big chop is due to a desperate need for a change in hairstyle. If you're craving simplicity, or think you'd rock the F out of a chic, short cut, then doing the big chop again can be a very good thing — even if your strands aren't fried to oblivion. Not only will you have some new healthy hair growth, but you'll also get the style change you're craving. If you're questioning how you'll look with a short 'do, try one of these websites that show you how you'd look with a short haircut.
5. Your Single-Strand Knots
Knots are hard to get out of curly hair; dealing with multiple strands that are wrapped around each other can feel like some next-level hair drama. Add in the frustrating hell that is a single-strand knot (they feel like tiny balls of hair when you run your fingers through your hair) and it's no doubt that some of us question if it's time to big chop again. Fortunately, there are ways to remove a single-knot strand without having to cut it all off. If you decide to try detangling, just be gentle, be patient, and get a glass of wine: It's going to be a while, but it's going to be worth it.
6. Whether Or Not Your Current Method Of Transitioning Your Hair Is Working
There are times when relaxed hair needs a big chop to fully expunge all the damage the chemicals, heat, and manipulation causes. Of course, if you go back to relaxing your hair, getting another big chop could be in your future. Transitioning from a relaxed style to my natural, afro-textured hair was an emotional roller-coaster that I was proud to endure, but once was enough.
In my case, keeping two different textures while my new growth came in proved to be a waste of time as it caused breakage to the new hair. Weaves and wigs can be your best friend if you hate the idea of the big chop because you can slowly cut off damaged hair until you are at the length you're most comfortable with; however, if your top goal is healthy hair, the big chop, sans the weight of external hair, may be the most effective way to go if you can stand the short 'do.
7. Your Feelings About Your Hair Texture
I have moments of unhappiness with my hair often and this is truly the time that I seriously consider doing the big chop again the most. Usually, hair envy has me suddenly hating my new own texture, but even a particularly gruesome detangling session can leave me contemplating whether or not this length is worth all the trouble. Chances are, doing another big chop isn't going to cause any major change to your natural curl pattern. The best thing to do is embrace your curl pattern and treat it with the love it deserves to avoid a series of bad hair days that leads you booking an appointment for an unwarranted big chop.
Image: Kristin Collins Jackson (8)