How to Do Your Own Big Chop at Home

It's not as scary as you think — trust!

How To Do Your Own Big Chop at Home
Photo: Masego Morulane/Getty Images

Making the decision to go natural is no easy feat.

For many of us, relaxed hair is all we know, and the thought of having to learn how to care for a whole new texture can be intimidating. However, the good news is there's more information out there than ever on how to determine your natural hair type, along with how to take care of your unique curl pattern. The only catch? You're going to have to cut off your relaxed ends to officially make the jump.

That's why we reached out to natural haircare expert Candace Witherspoon of the New York City-based Candace Witherspoon Salon to create a step-by-step guide on how to do your own big chop at home. So grab your cutting tools and get ready to follow along.

How Do I Prep My Hair for a Big Chop?

First, you want to make sure that your hair is freshly washed, detangled, air dried, and free of any styling products that can manipulate your natural texture. This way, you're able to clearly spot the line of demarcation between your natural curls and the relaxed ends.

What Cutting Tools Do I Need?

That's totally up to you — mostly.

"Depending on hair texture and how short you're going, that will determine what tools you'll need," Witherspoon says.

If you have a few inches of new growth that you want to keep, the stylist recommends sticking to shears. However, if you prefer to really start fresh, make sure to have a pair of clippers and some guards handy.

How Do I Get Started?

If you're keeping some of your new length, you'll want to start off by parting your hair into four sections. Begin by leaving one section out and using clips to keep the rest away from the piece you're cutting. From that one section, take small pieces of hair and cut below the line of demarcation on your first pass. "Always start cutting hair on the longer side," Witherspoon suggests. "Give yourself room to make a mistake."

Repeat until your relaxed ends are gone.

If you're using clippers, make sure to apply a guard if you want to keep some length. You can always go over the hair again with scissors to clip off any extra hair.

If you prefer a fresh buzz cut, you can completely omit the guards.

No matter which route you choose, remember to take your time. Going natural likely isn't something you decided on overnight, so you don't want to rush this process.

VIDEO: Taraji P. Henson Just Wore Her Natural Hair Out Again

How Do I Create an Even Finish?

According to Witherspoon, it's all about repetition.

"Go over the cut more than once," she suggests. "Use a mirror for guidance, and pull at the hair in all directions to check evenness [as you cut.]"

How Do I Take Care of My New Texture?

Let's be real: Learning what your natural hair needs is going to be a case of trial-and-error. Since everyone's hair is different, there's no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. But, "this will be a great time to experiment with new products," says Witherspoon — and she's right.

While it's going to take time to figure out what's right for your unique hair type, the general rule of thumb is to use lighter products if you have looser curls, and thicker, richer products if your hair is more on the coiler side.

Miss Jessie's Pillow Soft Curls are perfect for type 3 styling, while 4C Only's Too Easy Collection is a great system for type 4 kinks.

miss jessie's pillow soft curls

To shop: $23;

4c only

To shop: $70;

You should also be prepared to see a little shrinkage after you cut off your relaxed ends (which inevitably weigh down your hair) and after your first post-big chop wash. If you want to create more volume, use a pick, or do a twist-out to help manipulate your length. If you want more definition, opt for styling creams or gels.

Last but not least, it's important to keep in mind that you will more than likely get frustrated with your hair as you figure things out. But if you're willing to be patient, and give your hair a little TLC along the way, you'll start loving everything about this new journey — and your natural texture.

This is All Natural. From the kinkiest coils to loose waves, we're celebrating natural hair in its many forms by sharing expert tips for styling, maintenance, and haircare.

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