mane objective transitioning natural hair before and after

Tran­si­tion­ing in and of itself is a chal­leng­ing jour­ney, wrought with excite­ment, frus­tra­tion, progress and poten­tial. Amidst all of the advice, meth­ods, reg­i­mens and prod­ucts, some­times the most con­fus­ing thing about the jour­ney is know­ing when to chop. There’s pres­sure on all side. Some fel­low nat­u­rals think tran­si­tion­ers are drag­ging their feet, cling­ing on to their relaxed and heat dam­aged ends like some sort of secu­ri­ty blan­ket.

Trust me, I know the feel­ing. I was con­sis­tent­ly pres­sured via social media. Peo­ple would tell me that I need­ed to go ahead and cut my hair. I respect­ful­ly declined each and every time, refus­ing to acqui­esce to anyone’s wish­es but my own.

For what­ev­er rea­son, tran­si­tion­ers can decide to hold on to their ends for as long as they choose. Maybe you’re not ready for all-nat­ur­al hair. Maybe you’re not ready to embrace full shrink­age and enjoy the extra length your ends pro­vide. I tran­si­tioned for near­ly 2 years (21 months to be exact) before chop­ping my ends in Decem­ber. My goal was to tran­si­tion for two full years, because I’ve only had short hair once in my life. How­ev­er, my hair and patience had oth­er plans.

One piece of advice that I often share with tran­si­tion­ers is to begin with the end in mind. When you set out on your jour­ney, have a goal; whether it’s time, get­ting rid of old hair col­or, or achiev­ing a cer­tain amount of growth. I didn’t make it to my goal of two years, but that’s okay. Even if you don’t stick entire­ly to your goal, things always work bet­ter when you have some­thing to aim for.

With that being said, when should tran­si­tion­ers chop? When is it time to draw the line and let the ends go? There’s no cut and dry answer, but here a few signs that will help you deter­mine when you might be just about ready to make that move:

1. Break­age and thin­ning are out of con­trol.

Along your tran­si­tion­ing jour­ney, some thin­ning and break­age is to be expect­ed. We know the line of demar­ca­tion between the new nat­ur­al and old dam­aged ends can be very frag­ile. Con­tin­u­ous­ly han­dling tran­si­tion­ing tress­es while incur­ring min­i­mal dam­age can become increas­ing­ly dif­fi­cult. If you reach a point in your jour­ney where your ends are con­stant­ly snap­ping off and your hair expe­ri­ences severe taper­ing or thin­ning, it just might be time to cut your loss­es. In this extreme case, a trim is not going to solve any­thing. Chop­ping is the only way to pre­serve the health and integri­ty of the rest of your hair.

2. You’re los­ing patience.

If you’re at the point in your tran­si­tion where you’re begin­ning to loathe cer­tain parts of your reg­i­men, you may be chop ready. If your prepa­ra­tion for detan­gling requires you to drink two Red Bulls, lis­ten to 30 min­utes of turn up music and have a pre-game hud­dle with your prod­ucts, chop­ping may be in your near future. If you need to do a tran­si­tion­ing style like twist and curl in prepa­ra­tion for a night out with your girls and you choose to sit at home with Net­flix instead of going out, you’re a chop can­di­date. These may be extreme exam­ples, but there is some­thing to be said for reach­ing the point where you absolute­ly have zero patience for putting up with your tran­si­tion­ing hair.

Around Octo­ber, I real­ly start­ed los­ing patience with my hair. I had long since giv­en up styles in favor of wash and go’s, but even those were get­ting on my nerves. The time it took to detan­gle those dread­ed dam­aged ends was wear­ing on me. The for­ti­tude to do satin strip braid­outs, ban­tu knot outs and oth­er styles was vir­tu­al­ly nonex­is­tent. Impa­tience for your tran­si­tion­ing hair opens the door for lax prac­tices that can result in unnec­es­sary dam­age to your hair.

3. You keep trim­ming. And trim­ming. And trim­ming.

Get­ting scis­sor hap­py is prob­a­bly one of the clear­er signs that the chop may be near. When you con­tin­u­al­ly trim away at your dam­aged hair in such a small amount of time, you’re pret­ty much set­ting your­self up to chop soon. Noth­ing about trim­ming twice a week sug­gests that you’re try­ing to keep your tran­si­tion­ing hair for as long as pos­si­ble. The mes­sage you’re send­ing to your­self is, “I’m tired of look­ing at this dam­aged hair,” and you’re already tak­ing action. Right before it was time to chop, I found myself trim­ming my ends every week for a month. That was eas­i­ly 2–3 inch­es in one month.

4. You’re no longer enjoy­ing the jour­ney.

The moment tran­si­tion­ing stops being a fun, explorato­ry jour­ney where you’re learn­ing and grow­ing in how you man­age your hair denotes the end of that phase of your nat­ur­al hair jour­ney is like­ly near. The tran­si­tion­er jour­ney is a unique expe­ri­ence full of twists and turns (lit­er­al­ly and fig­u­ra­tive­ly). There will be days where your hair amazes you and days where your hair gets on your last nerve. Although the roller coast­er ride won’t last always, it should be like an excit­ing courtship peri­od for you and your hair. But once it turns into that stale, dead end rela­tion­ship where you’re just going through the motions, it may be time to let those ends go.

 At the end of the day, you’ve got to chop when you’re ready and not a moment soon­er. What were your warn­ing sig­nals that chop time was near?

Christina Patrice

Born, raised, and liv­ing in Los Ange­les, Christi­na is BGLH’s res­i­dent tran­si­tion­ing expert and prod­uct junkie. In addi­tion to lov­ing all things hair, she is a fit­ness novice and advo­cate of wear­ing san­dals year-round. For more infor­ma­tion on tran­si­tion­ing, nat­ur­al hair, and her own hair jour­ney, vis­it maneobjective.com. Or, if you like pic­tures fol­low Christi­na on Insta­gram @maneobjective.

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11 Comments on "4 Signs It’s Time To Chop Your Transitioning Natural Hair"

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ChristianSingleMom

All this reminds me of my jour­ney. I have bat­tled with my hair and at times would rather just not go any­where because the braid­ing and rod­ding is time con­sum­ing. I have been tran­si­tion­ing for over a year and due to the break­age and dan­gling as you described… Yes it is time for the chop! ?

Rikki Sian

Kiki! Great points to be aware of. I think i am fast approach­ing that big chop time. I want my hair to look nice and healthy but don’t know how i would even man­age if i big chopped. my hair is just below my shoul­ders now, been tran­si­tion­ing for 6 months, the goal is to grow out my nat­ur­al hair till its on my shoul­ders then cut, but the ends (main­ly the back are seri­ous­ly break­ing off) im doing mini cuts at the back every oth­er month!!

Stacey

Not only is this good for tran­si­tion­ers, but it is good for those that have been nat­ur­al for a while, such as myself, and just need a refresh­er. I shaved mine damn near bald and I feel so lib­er­at­ed once again. Mine was dam­aged from too much col­or­ing. Plus I have a thin spot. I should have lis­tened to my boyfriend months ago.

Kay Von kent

When my ends were so dry that no mat­ter what I did, my hair wouldn’t retain the mois­ture. Also, when I got tired of the duel main­te­nance. You know what I mean: doing one thing to the nat­ur­al hair and doing quite anoth­er to the relaxed hair.

Bumper1959
Very short cropped hair does not look good on me (been there done that as a result of a curly perm dis­as­ter by a styl­ist who didn’t know what she was doing). When I final­ly decid­ed to tran­si­tion from a relax­er, I tran­si­tioned for about two years with braid exten­sions, cut­ting off an inch of relaxed hair when­ev­er I gained an inch in new growth. It worked very well for me and as nat­ur­al hair was not all that pop­u­lar at the time (I was the first in my group of friends to go nat­ur­al), no-one was urg­ing me to… Read more »
Jinx

“If your prepa­ra­tion for detan­gling requires you to drink two Red Bulls, lis­ten to 30 min­utes of turn up music and have a pre-game hud­dle with your prod­ucts, chop­ping may be in your near future.” That line had me rolling so hard ^_^

Shaniqua

For me, I knew it was time to chop when my relaxed ends became gross to me. I was so excit­ed to be able to do wash and gos and have curls that the idea of con­tin­u­ing to tran­si­tion was just intol­er­a­ble.

Maria

Great arti­cle, my lit­tle sister(8) is tran­si­tion­ing and has about 3 inch­es of nat­ur­al hair & 5 inch­es of relaxed hair. 

I plan on cut­ting an inch of her relaxed hair each month(She doesn’t want to BC), so ear­ly next year she’ll be total­ly nat­ur­al.

T

My relaxed, straight ends were con­stant­ly get­ting tan­gled up with the nat­ur­al hair when I washed it. That is why I chopped them off after 8 months. Now, it is so much eas­i­er to detan­gle, although I do miss the length.

Castor Oil

The con­stant break­ing off of ends is so true. I was afraid to chop because I like hav­ing length. But you got­ta know when it’s best to just let it go.

Queen D
This was actu­al­ly right on time! I orig­i­nal­ly set out to tran­si­tion for one year. A year came, and my shrink­age is CRAZY and I’m used to at least shoul­der length hair. I don’t mind it a lit­tle short­er, but I want­ed anoth­er few inch­es if I could hold out. I’m now at 14 months and slow­ly los­ing patience lol. My nat­ur­al hair is neck length when stretched, and my relaxed ends go from there to my col­lar­bone. So there’s maybe about 3 inch­es of relaxed ends left. I’m get­ting frus­trat­ed because my sta­ple styles like flat twist outs and… Read more »
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