Natural Hair Transitioning: The Big Chop and Scab Hair

What you’ll learn:

  • What is The Big Chop
  • How to prepare for The Big Chop in 5 steps
  • What is scab hair?
  • How long does scab hair last?
  • How to feel more confident when going natural

There are two ways to start your natural hair journey:

The Big Chop or Transitioning 

The Big Chop is the process of cutting off all the hair that has been straightened either chemically or using styling tools whereas transitioning is the slower paced process of stopping the use of any hair relaxers or styling tools, and waiting for the natural hair to grow. Making the decision to go natural can be exciting and scary at the same time and we recommend a big deal of preparation and excitement. 

What exactly is The Big Chop? 

Big chopping is the term that the natural-hair community uses to talk about the action of cutting off all of the relaxed ends. Depending on how long the hair has been left to transition before The Big Chop, whatever’s left of the hair will most probably end up being 2-5 inches in length. For many, transitioning is a good option because you can keep your hair’s length, but it’s a very long and tough process and that’s why others decide to cut right through it. Literally. 

If you have thought about this for a little while and think it’s something that you might be interested in. How could you be sure you’re ready to do it? 

5 Things You Should do to Prepare before the Big Chop

1. Research: reading this article is already a big move towards completing this step, but don’t stop there. There are plenty of sources and testimonies out there. Get a good deal of information so that you fully understand what you’re getting into and to feel more comfortable with the idea of chopping your hair off. 

2. Estimate your curl pattern: you’ll have to guesstimate if you have been using chemicals for a long time. Looking at baby pictures is a good way to see how your curl pattern will be once your natural hair grows out. Getting a rough idea of what your hair will be like can help you prepare with the products that will be needed in order to nourish the strands as they grow out. 


3. Establish your ideal hair care routine: hair needs three elements to be able to maintain its health: water, oil, and protein. Depending on your natural hair type and lifestyle, your hair requires a specific routine that alternates between treatments so that you always give your hair what it really needs. Complete this online test to establish what your ideal hair care routine looks like.

4. Save the date: will you be transitioning for a few months before the big chop? Or are you prepared to rock a fresh cut? In any case, you’d want to schedule the day and time according to the best moment for you.

5. Subscribe to a routine that makes this process easier. Going natural and choosing to start with the big chop is already a big deal that can generate extra stress. Once you’ve determined what your ideal hair routine is, subscribe to the products that you’ll be needing monthly in order to keep the strands well balanced and nourished. 

What is scab hair?

Scab hair is a term used for the fresh new hair that grows once you begin your natural hair journey.  After years of using relaxers, chemicals, and heat styling tools, there are residues that are still inside the scalp that alter new hair growth. Scab hair grows dry, rough, and with no definition; it’s also very fragile because it combines two different textures. It’s hard to figure out how to take proper care of this new hair because it’s prone to absorbing less moisture than what your natural hair will once it’s fully bloomed. 

How long does scab hair last? 

The scab hair phase can last 2-24 months, depending on how damaged the hair follicles are. You need to accept that this phase is part of the growing pains of going natural, but rest assured that it’s worth it. 

How to feel more confident when going natural

The Big Chop is the most efficient way to start your natural hair journey. It’s normal to feel scared, especially if you’re going from long straight hair to having short, curly or kinky hair. A solution to feeling more confident with your chop is to go to a specialist in short hair cuts and ask for something that fits your style. 

Feeling frustrated is a normal part of the experience, but there’s a strong community out there ready to support you and give you all the information you might need.