Starting over again with short hair doesn't have to be a scary thing. In fact, it can be incredibly empowering for not only your physical appearance, but also your inner confidence.
Coco Chanel once said, "A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life."
Do you believe this saying to be true?
I recently spoke with three NaturallyCurly editors, Cristina, Gerilyn, and Alexandra, asking them this question as a kickoff for a meaningful conversation about their big chop and transitioning journeys starting over again with short hair. Here's each of their take.
Cristina Cleveland (@cristinacleveland): I don't know if it's true for everyone, but I found it to be true for me.
Cutting my hair to me was a rejection of the beauty standards of my friends, family, and strangers -- anyone who isn't me. When I was younger I would have agonized over whether other people liked my hair, asking everyone's opinion before I cut it and then worrying about reactions afterward. But when I cut my long hair off I only cared about how I felt -- and I loved it!
Gerilyn Hayes (@gerilynhayes): In my experience, this is absolutely true.
Alexandra Wilson (@queensconquer): Yes, I most definitely believe this is true!
When I cut my hair two years ago, I was going through a major transition in my life and was in need of change. I had recently graduated college, started my own business, moved to a new city, let go of some toxic relationships and felt it was the perfect time to break free from my past in order to become the woman I envisioned myself of being: bold, fearless, care-free and magical AF.
How did you convince yourself to finally take that plunge and do super short hair?
CC: I thought about it for a long time. I knew it was what I wanted but everyone kept telling me I was going to regret [doing short hair]. Then I made my appointment, and the day of the stylist told me they had to reschedule - which may have been a blessing in disguise. By the time my real appointment came, I was so ready to get rid of my hair, I couldn't wait another moment.
GH: Although it felt random at the time, hindsight tells me that a series of events led up to the cut. Having thought about shaving my head for years, I never gave it any real thought until I was on the cusp of my Junior year at Texas State. When I made the decision to shave my head skin-bald, I was in an emotionally heavy place. I just wanted to let go of my old self, feelings that no longer served me, and make a fresh start. That one decision, to let go by cutting it all off, completely changed my life.
AW: I kept seeing so many beautiful short haircuts leading up to my cut and I felt that it was a sign to go for it! So, I started a short hair inspiration vision board of a few hairstyles I had in mind to show the stylist. Then, when I went home to Houston that Summer I did some research and found a stylist that was reasonable, experienced and knowledgeable and booked her. It truly was a risk because I had never booked with her before, but I checked out her Instagram and saw her work and took the leap of faith -- shout out to Cici for doing my big chop!
Were you nervous once you were in the chair or were you excited about what was about to happen?
CC: Both! What added to my nervousness and excitement was that Evelyn was filming it, so there was no backing out.
GH: It is difficult to explain. Looking back, I just remember thinking, "Well, here we go!" As the curls on my head began to fall away, I saw my scalp for the first time ever, and that is when I got excited. It was like getting to the root of my soul, peering in, and letting the entire world see the real me, with all my imperfections, blemishes, and pain. It was truly liberating.
AW: I was beyond excited for a fresh start and a new look! I had a vision of what I wanted and I trusted her to work her magic.
How did you keep yourself from getting bored with your short cut while your hair grew back out?
CC: I knew the grow out was going to be tough so I actually had a grow out plan. When I reached the awkward length where my hair started flipping into a mullet, I bleached it platinum blonde, then when my hair was in a short bob I dyed it purple. I thought the blonde would keep me preoccupied so that I wouldn't be tempted to cut it, but it turned out that my hair was so damaged I had to cut it all off again later. In hindsight it kind of prolonged my grow out, but it was definitely fun!
GH: I continued to shave it for about a decade, but when I got a little lazy and let my hair grow longer than usual, I would wear head wraps and large accessories. When I stopped shaving my head and let my 4Cs do their thing, I would rock a black hat; sometimes I still do!
AW: My hair grew back pretty fast, so at first I wanted to keep it short so I would get a haircut every two or three months to preserve my short hairstyle. I would rock a sleek straight pixie, curly mohawk, and a curly pixie. Once my hair grew put longer, my go-to method was the finger coil technique to hide the longer hairs and have a defined look. Now, I'm over the short hairstyles and have been rocking protective styles such as braids, sew-ins and headwraps to let my fully grow out.
You experimented with a ton of different products throughout your short hair journey. Which products were the most reliable and why?
Actually what I used most was water. Every morning I would dunk my head in the sink and just let the running water wet the top of my hair completely. This is because when I woke up every day my hair would be sticking up and out in all sorts of directions, and it was so short that I could re-wetting it and starting from scratch only took a couple minutes. I also used a travel-sized flat iron or bobby pins a lot to flatten the back and sides of my hair down to my head (since they naturally stick out instead of down). Aside from that, I used small amounts of curl creams like AG Beach Balm for hold. I talked about my process more in this video.
- Africa's Best Ultimate Herbal Oil is the #GOAT because at any given moment, you can massage your scalp with it and smell like a heaven-scented goddess. It is still my go-to for scalp massages, foot rubs, facial massages, and body oil.
- When my hair became long enough for protective styles, I would set Bantu Knots and Two-Strand Twists with Ampro Gel (literally any of their gels). The one that really stuck with me because it didn't make my hair hard or crunchy was Ampro Styl Olive Oil Styling Gel.
- Kinky Curly Knot Today is by far the best detanglers ever made! It provides amazing slip and I like to use it a leave-in as well.
- ORS styling smoothie is one of my holy grails for a styling creme that nourishes my hair with protein and nutrients plus it defines my curls effortlessly.
- Mielle Organics Babassu Oil & Mint Deep Conditioner because every transitioner needs a good deep conditioner in their wash day routine and this is my favorite! It leaves my hair feeling so soft and scalp refreshed and clean.
What advice would you give to a woman thinking about going shorter but still on the fence about taking the plunge?
CC: Before I cut my hair I had visions that I would cry and feel ugly with short hair, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. I felt my absolute most confident when I had my hair short because it was an external sign to the world (and myself) that I love myself and I don't care what anyone thinks. Yes, there were days when my hair was doing weird things, but I just had to laugh it off and find new ways to make it work. If you're really that worried about it, my advice is: it grows back! So just enjoy every stage. (Can you tell I've been feeling the urge to go short again?)
GH: Don't worry about what other people say or think about your decision because, ultimately, it is your decision! However, be prepared to tell people that it is not okay for them to touch or rub your head for good luck because germs -- unless that's okay with you -- and carry a warm hat or hoodie with you to movie theaters (you're welcome). You must also be prepared for the moments your look will cause onlookers to have whiplash. Most importantly, have fun!
AW: If it's been on your mind for a while, go for it! If you're unsure about how it will look on you, try a wig first. Gather some hairstyles that would work best for your hair type and face frame, research a stylist in your area, and be clear on what you want your hair to look like and tell your stylist your expectations and how you'll be wearing your hair and let the magic happen!
NC Community: Are you nervous about taking the big chop plunge?
Our editors are here to answer your questions. Leave a question or comment below for one of us, or if you have already done the big chop, let us know what your experience was like. Like us on Facebook - NaturallyCurly