Photo Courtesy of Christina Nwabugo
Big chop (BC) is one of the two ways to return to your natural curl pattern. In our Glossary, we define the act of big chopping as "when you decide to go natural and cut off all your relaxed hair. To big chop includes cutting the relaxed and significantly heat-damaged portions of the hair." Quite often women going natural worry about when and how to remove their relaxed ends, especially with long-term transitioning. When is the right time? Kalasiag  inquired about the timing in Curly Q&A


I’m planning to big chop soon I’m not sure to do the big chop before or after summer. I can’t decide! I’m not sure what is my hair type I believe it's a mix of 3c 4a. I've been transitioning since May 2015.


When to BC is solely up to you. Some people use seasons—literally and figuratively—to decide when to cut the relaxed ends. You have almost transitioned for a year and that is a great stopping point, especially if a certain length is not your driving force for waiting. Here are some tips to determine if you are ready or should hold out a little longer.

This is your timeline

Sometimes we can be pressured into quitting the long-term transitioning for reasons that have nothing to do with us. Has someone told you it was time or that you should BC within a year? There are plenty of long-term transitioners going well into their second year who are happy with that path. Make sure this is something you are ready to do for yourself and not for anyone else or their preference.

List your pros and cons

Yes, that is a great way to determine if you are ready to chop it all off or continuing transitioning. Is it becoming too hard working with two different textures? Are you limited on style or are you looking for a new style to rock this spring and summer? When you figure out exactly what you want you will find the solution rather easily. Transitioning longer means working with longer hair and longer styles while cutting may mean a short sassy style to rock for this summer. Decide which path has more pros for you.

No pathway to going natural is actually better but one will be better for you.

Pick a style you want

This is another easy way to determine what to do. The style you want can decide if it is time to let those relaxed ends go. Finger coils and tapered cuts look best on short hair while there is more creativity with updos on long hair. With us being in spring and summer around the corner, a new style or cut may be just what you need.

Which way will be easier?

If long-term transitioning is requiring too much time and product application to work effectively on each texture, then the BC may be a way to avoid that. No pathway to going natural is actually better but one will be better for you. Going natural does not have to be hard so if cutting it off will make for easier manageability, then it may be time to let it go. Also, if buns are easier to style than a short haircut, then maybe transitioning longer is best.

What is healthier for your hair?

Make sure to ask yourself which is going to be the healthiest route to take now that you have almost made it a year long-term transitioning. Is it time to quit? Are you noticing breakage at the line of demarcation? Are the two textures making for harder detangling sessions or wash days? If so, then cutting the remaining relaxed ends might be optimal and lessening breakage and tangles.

Follow photographer Christina Nwabugo at Byafrique and Instagram.