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The Big Chop Survival Guide:

The ladies at know more than a thing or two about how to handle spirals of all shapes and sizes. Here, they relay their advice for making the transition from relaxed to natural hair.

This story was originally published on

Going natural is a beautiful experience no matter where you are in age, life, or around the globe. There are two options for how you can make the switch though neither one is better or easier than the other; it is merely a personal preference.

Whether you big chop (BC) or long-term transition, there are survival techniques that need to be mastered for the journey to be positive, smooth, and damage-free.

Most women who BC start with a teeny-weeny afro (TWA). If you’ve watched any of the recent award shows, you already know the queen of the red carpet Lupita Nyong’o has brought the TWA back to life when so many have found it limiting, unfeminine, or boring.

Pretty soon we’ll begin seeing more women either doing the BC instead of long-term transitioning or doing a second BC to sport the now popular looks Lupita is rocking. In order to achieve this there are some tips that need to be implemented to ensure you’re always looking your best.


Moisture is key for natural hair, but to ensure your hair has minimal damage or breakage, you should use products that are water-based and will not create a barrier between your hair and what it needs. Botanical (plant-based) products are best and steering clear of non water-soluble silicones, sulfates, and parabens is crucial to keeping your hair properly moisturized, especially if you are a newbie. Check the first five ingredients in any product to see if water is first, as it is essential. Moisturize daily, or as often as possible.

Get a Spray Bottle (Or Two)

BC hair is much dryer and requires frequent pick me ups, making it difficult to manage without a spray bottle. They come in all shapes and sizes, and you can keep one in the bathroom and even one for your purse. Some variation of filtered or distilled water, a carrier oil, an essential oil, and glycerin should all be in there. It should be mostly made up of water with just a few drops of all the other ingredients to help sustain the moisture.

Protect Your Ends

No, you don’t have to worry about your hair brushing up against your clothes, but if you want those ends to stay around for a while then they need to be protected. That means sleep with a satin bonnet or on a satin pillowcase. If you are not air-drying, then dry with a microfiber towel or an old t-shirt. They work like a charm! Seal your ends with a great carrier oil like coconut, jojoba, olive, or grapeseed to protect the ends from splitting.

Be Gentle

If you are transitioning from relaxed to natural, your hair is fragile due to the line of demarcation and scab hair. The line of demarcation is very weak because it is the area on the hair strands that separate the two textures. Scab hair is an unscientific term to describe the virgin hair that is extremely dry after you stop chemically relaxing.

Step Outside the Box and Embrace Your Inner Beauty

Beauty is not obtained through a certain hair length. It’s found in you. Embrace your TWA, nurture it, love it, and accessorize the heck out of it with some earrings, makeup, headbands, scarves, even your own bare shoulders! As it gets warm, think of adding fun hair clips, a bold color with hair chalk, or even wear a tiara! The choices are bountiful so be fearless, fun, funky, and free with yourself and your TWA.

—Sabrina Perkins

Want more curly hair advice? Check out

Photo: Getty Images

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