My Big Chop

Yes sis!

Healthy hair journey is the way to go!

 

Many of us have faced a rollercoaster ride with our hair. What if your experience has been dictated by outside forces outside your own person?

Black women’s hair has been politicalized, scrutinized, ridiculed, deemed unkempt, brittle, dreadful and the list goes on and on.
Have you been coerced into adhering to a social construct standard of beauty that doesn’t reflect the essences of who you are?

It’s time to reclaim the mantle and be proactive of your own journey, your image, your lifestyle.
For many, this could mean jumpstarting a healthy hair journey!

BIG CHOP

 

The phrase “Big chop” is a coined term in the natural hair community that refers to the action of transitioning, a literal cutting off the chemically relaxed ends of one’s hair to unearth and embrace their natural, unprocessed hair.

Onced the hair is chemically relaxed, there’s little to no other method for reverting the hair back into its natural state unless the relaxed portions are cut off. The individual must grow their hair back to retain their natural hair pattern.

Propaganda of chemical relaxers

For some, chemical relaxing your hair was seen as a writ of passage into womanhood. “Mama, I want to look like her, she looks grown!”
Once relaxed, you may get compliments like, “se kounya ou demwazel” – translated, “You’re a lady now.”

Representation matters! – Let’s make our images more diverse!

Oil painting by Haenley Pierre
Oil painting by Haenley Pierre

Growing up, I had limited exposure or knowledge in how to take care of my natural hair. There were limited role-models but a wreath of propaganda for chemically processed hair. It was either: you had relaxed hair already or were planning to relax; It’s what most of us knew!

We left “natural hair” for those who had – what my culture would name and classify as “cheve siro” or silky hair, those who had the looser hair texture range of the 3A-3C.

Many of us didn’t have much of a say of whether or not we wanted our hair chemically relaxed.

My first relaxer was at a hair salon, without my consent!

From our teenage years or younger, we got into the routine of having to “touch up” our ends every 4-6 weeks; avoided wetting our hair (unless it was “washday”) and having to remember not to scratch your scalp at least 2 days before your next relaxer “touch up.”

If not, get ready to feel the burn baby, feel the burn!

Beauty Standards

Let’s not forget the history of colonialism and the imposed white-washed standard of beauty on our melanated folks. The closer one was to Eurocentric features, the more beautiful they were perceived in society. The effects of slavery still trickles down to our modern-day. Let’s remember, there was a systemic diabolical agenda to strip away our worth and value as equal human beings. Thus, the physical features that add to the range of diversity of human kind were seen as undesirable.

For our black and brown folks, there was societal brainwashing that encouraged people to think that their physical features, i.e. the size and shape of their nose down to how kinky their hair strands were, determined their perceived level of beauty.

But I digress, this can be its own separate discussion, let’s continue!

Big Chop Haenley StudioI must admit, I didn’t learn how to properly take care of my natural hair until my early twenties. Thus, for me, it was a journey of self discovery, learning the pattern relationship of my hair strands and the overall texture.

If you’re on this journey, cheers to your liberation ! May the growth odds be in your favor.

I Big Chopped, What do I do now?

First, Congrats! You’ve taken a major leap forward. Now, some words of wisdom unto your Healthy Natural Hair Journey:

  • Embrace your short-hair beauty and rock your TWA!
  • You are more than your hair!
  • Your hair doesn’t define you, You define and moisturize it!
  • Document your journey & take pictures

 

My Experience

 

Why did I big chop?

haenley pierre natural big chop hair

I’m not new to the natural hair world. I began my journey towards the end of 2012. I was tired of my limp, short relaxed hair and my mother began sharing a desire to stop the relaxers, so I hesitantly joined her.

Terrified was not an overstatement! What would I do with my hair?

Luckily, the natural hair movement was steadily gaining clout and momentum and we had brave souls that tread the waters before us. Youtube was literally a Godsent. Channels like Naptural85 were my virtual classroom. I downloaded & researched the lessons from professor guru Whitney of Naptural85. I tried her homemade shea butter recipes and learned hair texture type and so much more! Her classroom was an open door where I entered the study of my natural hair.

Back to my big chop

After over 5yrs of “being natural,”and living life with my natural hair.

I had to big chop & start a new healthy hair journey due to a horrific experience at a Dominican Hair salon.

Yes sis, add me to the list of stories you’ve heard about non-black operated hair salons and natural hair.

 

I am of Haitian descent and my neighbors are Dominican. We share an island, divided by rivers, mountains and valleys, in addition to language, colonial rule and a history of the transatlantic slave trade. Yet, without a doubt, there’s tensions in embracing Afrocentric beauty amongst our shared island. “I’m not black,” is the cried of self-hate voice by many Dominican descendants. In this context, let’s us  continue with the frame of Dominican stylist who are deny their afro-centric roots of their genetic melting pot heritage.

There are very few black operated salons in my area, the Dominican hair salons are predominant and were open with more flexible hours, so I took the risk and went in. I had requested to get just a silk press to flat iron my hair. I was anxious for something different, little did I know, what I was in for!

Knowing the tendency for Dominican hair salons to treat texture hair with disdain – I Brought My Own Products! In my anxiety, looking back – it seems that I brought 2 conditioners instead of one conditioner and one shampoo. I’m not sure if that was what triggered such a malicious attack; either way it was uncalled for! It’s sad to say, the hairdresser added some sort of relaxer or texturizer to the shampoo and altered my hair.

I didn’t consent to a chemical relaxer!
I was not asked anything!
Unfortunately for me, I had no idea until weeks later!

Going to the hairdresser is a matter of trust

For having worked so hard to get to a level of understanding of my hair, not previously afforded, it was a huge blow to have to start all over!

Some of my readers may not have a reference point for this experience. Hair relaxers are a delicate process. One mistake can easily leave you bald or with severe hair and/or scalp damage. Typically when you relax your hair, you must get it treated periodically, through re-application procedures. Without these steps, Trust me on this – Your hair will break & fallout!

That’s exactly what happened. I first noticed – there was a chemical smell that still persisted on my hair. I thought initially it was the smell from the flat iron. However, from my first wash, that’s when it hit – my hair didn’t revert back to its natural state!

I was devastated!

hair fell out by the chunks

It was just downhill from there. My hair fell out by the chunks! My hair was matted! – you simply can’t use the same products for natural unprocessed hair, on chemically relaxed hair.

To my non-black readers. I hope by sharing my experience we can develop more accountability and raise awareness. We often fear what we are not familiar with. We must acknowledge our biases and have willingness to learn!

I will become more comfortable with non-black hairdressers, when there’s proactive initiatives taken to change the narrative. When we, (my 4 range sisters) as the clients, are not subjected to harassment; where we are not at the brunt end of anti-blackness tactics, when our hair strands don’t pose too much of a challenge to learn.

Out of the ashes, we shall still rise again!

My big chop was a new start. New mentality, a fresh beginning. My goal was no longer a direct focus on length retention but healthy hair.

Here’s are some tips I’ve learned throughout my Health Hair journey:

 

The Cut

 

Don’t just cut your hair – Get a shape-up !

Your hair will grow into the outline you give it. It can literally define your cut for the good or bad.

black female short hair shape up

Find an image reference for the cut you want

Pinterest it !

Pinterest is the site for ideas | Here’s some searches you can look up:

Go to an experienced hairdresser or barber

I went to a black male barber who had experience cutting women’s hair.

I chose to grow out my hair in a more top heavy fashion. So, I chose a tapered cut, my cut was faded at the back and sides.

Remember a good shape is instrumental for your hair cut goals

 

How do I style my hair?


I big-chopped, what do I do with my hair now?

First – Embrace your length! Be comfortable with it!

Maintenance can be summed up in one word, moisturized.

Low length hair equals low maintenance. Keeping your hair moisturized can simply mean spritzing your hair with water and sealing the moisture with an oil. My go to oil is Haitain black castor oil.

Keep in tuned with the LOC method. Stay away from heavy creams and products.

Now that your hair is moisturized, how do you style a low cut?

 

Get yourself a sponge brush

 

Get yourself a sponge brush

 

    • After you’ve added your light moisturizers, apply the brush to your hair
    • Keep the same rotating motion through your head, after 2-3 rounds, you’ll be all set!

Wash and Gos

If you’ve failed your wash & go attempts, this is now your time to experiment!

  • Avoid too much product (i.e. conditioner and gel) It might leave a white residue on your hair
  • Give your hair enough time to dry before heading out

 

wash short hair

This is how my wash and gos would turn out.

The first few weeks post cut, I styled my hair with a sponge brush, water, oils and a small amount of shea butter.

Edges

People have a tendency to always want to slick down their edges with a low cut. Find a gel you’re comfortable with and use it in moderation.

It’s okay to leave the edges be at times
Let your hair breathe!

hair chop accessories

Add an accessory

  • headbands
  • Flowers
  • Decorative Hair pins
  • Decorative barrettes and hair clips

Growth Retention

 

Protective styling

Headwraps are a great substitute to consider.
Check out my favorite head wraps. Even wondered if it’s appropriate to wear it at work? Check out my headwrap experience in the workplace!

Crochet braids

I found that crochet braids are one of the best methods for regrowing your hair thru braided styles. Specifically, crochet braids where the hair is braided in cornrows underneath.

My tips to keeping your hair moisturized in these braids:
  • Keep a spray bottle mixed with apple cider vinegar and water to spray your scalp.
  • Spray the mix in between the cornrows and use a toothbrush to clean and massage the area.
  • Seal the moisture with an oil, preferably castor oil.
  • Repeat the process once a week until you’ve removed your crochet braids.

Crochet braids are great – but keep watch for your edges hunny!
If you start noticing tugging at your roots, take them out!

Multivitamins?

Incorporating a multivitamin to your diet can increase your overall health and thereby the health of your hair. Be reminded, the outside product is a reflection of your inward health.

Please consult with your primary physician before taking a new multivitamin or if you’re experiencing any adverse effects.

Biotin supplements are known to promote hair growth.

Now hunny, let me tell you – biotin is also known to cause breakouts! If you’re trying this supplement try measuring how much your body can handle. Try taking this supplement once every 2 weeks or so. Take biotin alongside your multivitamin and other B range supplements to reduce breakouts.

Remember, it’s always good practice to consult with your primary physician or dermatologist if you have any questions on supplement intakes.

Healthy life equals healthy hair
Drink your recommended intake of water, eat well, get a daily dose of exercise and sleep.

Wash & Deep condition your hair regularly.

Set your routine. Having a regular routine promotes hair retention.

regular routine promotes hair retentionPre-poo.

Detangling is cut in half with a low cut. But it’s always good practice to prepare your hair before adding a cleanser. Try adding black castor oil and spritzing your hair with a diluted mixture of apple cider vinegar.

Deep condition.

Try this tip for an enhanced session:

  • Add molasses and black castor to your deep conditioner
  • Apply heat to your session – see one option below
  • Wrap your hair with plastic bag and sit under a dryer for 30 mins

Applying heat to your deep conditioning sessions lifts the hair cuticles and allows the products to be more readily absorbed into the hair strands.

Get a massage tool, massage your hair throughout your wash session

Massage your scalp

Massaging your scalp frequently is good practice, try incorporating a session for at least 5 mins a day. This will help enhance blood circulation and strengthen your follicles.

  • You can use your hands or a massage tool
  • Be attentive, don’t rub vigorously as this can cause your hair to break
  • Massage your scalp prior to washing your hair and then massage again afterwards
  • Gently massage your scalp after you take down your twists.

Use the fingertips of your hands to lightly apply pressure to your scalp. Rotate your fingertips throughout your scalp, move in small circles to cover all areas.

Get frequent trims

Yes sis, frequent trims does indeed make your hair grow faster. But don’t over-do it. Set a schedule!

  • Try to get a professional trim once every 6 months, adjust as needed
  • Get rid of your split ends, they’re only weighing you down!

Products

Keep it simple with the products. A low cut should entails fewer hair manipulation.

I mostly used my homemade shea butter and water as my staple products. See how I make my shea butter.

Pay attention to your edges. Product build-up can negatively affect your edges and weigh down your hair strains.

REMEMBER: It’s your Healthy Hair journey!

YOU define the direction you want to take.

Post cut, some may decide that they’re uncomfortable with short hair and make it a mission to re-grow their hair.

Some of you may fall in love with your short hair & never go back. Some may decide to get a bomb color and make that your signature look.

Do you boo!

Hey! 
You never know rocking a TWA
might be just your style!

Go for it sis!

If you’re on a growth journey, take care of your hair & watch it grow! You got this, It shall all come to pass.

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