6 Questions To Ask Before "Big Chopping" This Summer

Before pulling out your shears or clippers, read this.


If there is one summer when folks who don't believe in climate change (what in the world?!) should definitely get this side-eye, this one would have to be the one. Y'all, I live in the South, so I'm used to the summertime being mad humid. Still, when it comes to the heat that the sun is giving this year? I'll put it to you this way — currently, I am like the seniors who try and run errands at 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. to avoid it. Straight up.

That's why I totally get that some people are all about big chopping this season. Shoot, for most of my adult life, my hair has been some variation of short (no exaggeration), so I totally get it. Still, as someone who has big chopped and also sometimes regretted it due to it being more emotionally-driven than a well-thought out plan, if you're someone who is strongly considering doing it, in order to make sure that you won't find yourself crying in your bathroom mirror from now through Labor Day, I wanted to offer up a few things to think about before you pull out your clippers or make an appointment with your stylist.

1. Have You Ever Big Chopped Before?


Here's been my personal experience with big chopping — unless your hair is really long and you've never gone super short before, it's not really the length that's the issue. No, the challenges actually come with 1) finding a cut that suits the shape of your head; 2) deciding if you want to relax your hair, texturize it (which is a form of mildly relaxing it) or go all-natural, and/or 3) figuring out which products to use. And because a lot of people tend to big chop impulsively, that means they didn't devote enough time to doing any real preparing which can ultimately freak them out once their hair is off of their head and in a sink somewhere.

That's why, if you happen to be a "big chop virgin", it's so important that you think about all of the points that I just made all the way through. While different lengths and styles do complement some more than others, I'll be honest when I say that it's rare when I've seen a big chop go awry; that is, when the cut is dope, the styling is on-point and the person carrying it is confident. Preparing ahead of time makes all of this possible.

2. Is It a Weather-Triggered Response?


Like I said in the intro, it's hot. LAWD, IT'S HOT. Yet just like Loretta Devine's character said in the series The Client List about the weather, the same thing applies to seasons — "give it some time and it'll change". While right now, it might seem like the heat is never gonna end, the reality is that, this year, autumn officially begins on September 22. It's a reminder that seasons only last for (roughly) three months and where I'm going with this is, if you're thinking about cutting all of your hair ONLY because the heat is too much to bear, that sounds like an emotionally-charged decision. Oftentimes, moving in that space is not a good look (no pun intended); especially when it comes to making choices that you've got to live with for a while. While our hair is always growing (1/4-1/2" a month), it does require patience to gain real inches. So, if you're only considering big chopping as a way to get some much-needed heat relief, I would strongly consider pumping the brakes.

3. Is This a Hair Transition-Related Decision?


Some people opt for big chopping during the summer season because it's not uncommon for folks to go at least a few inches shorter when it's hot outside; this means that it could be a great time to transition from chemically-treated hair to an all-natural look. I'll be honest, if this is your reason for cutting your hair off, I think it's a wise move because the whole "keep your straight hair while growing out your natural texture" can be a bit taxing because that can oftentimes lead to a significant amount of breakage, if you're not careful. Plus, it can emotionally take you through it a bit if it's been FOREVER since you've even dealt with your natural hair. Learning its texture, adjusting to shrinkage, etc. might make you say "F it" and go back to relaxing. In fact, big chopping is usually for the sake of going immediately from chemically-treated to natural. Still, if you're not ready to lose all of your inches in one sitting, there is always another route that you can take. This brings me to my next point.

4. What About a Protective Style?


Something that can help to keep impulsive people from cutting their hair before they are truly ready and transitioning folks from becoming stressed the hell out as they are growing out their natural hair is protective styles. Some summers, I will do nothing but put my hair into box braids; it leads to low-maintenance and absolutely no regrets. Some pretty popular looks this year include stitched cornrows, flat-twist updos, medium-sized box braids, Bantu knots, braided faux hawks and mini twists. If you take good care of them, most of these looks can last you 3-4 weeks (at least) which will either get you through the summer heat or buy you more time for you to figure out if you really want to go short — or not.

5. Have You Discussed This with a Professional Stylist (Yet)?


The first time that I big chopped, my late fiancé literally pulled out a set of clippers and gave me an immediate low Caesar. It was the early-mid 90s and pretty "buck" at the time; although I must say that, in hindsight, I probably would've gotten a professional stylist to do it because well, they're a professional.

Listen, I know it seems so revolutionary to pull out some shears, stare yourself in the mirror and go absolutely ham on your head yet if you don't know what the hell you are doing, it can result in a mini-nervous breakdown because your hair will end up looking like it. Sometimes — no, many times — the anxiety surrounding a big chop has little to do with the length and everything to do with the cut.

That's why I strongly recommend that if you've got a professional stylist, you should run your thoughts by them. Not only can they help you to come up with a look that is the most flattering, they can also put together a hair regimen that you can realistically keep up with. That last part actually brings me to my final point.

6. Do You Get That a Short ‘Do Also Requires Maintenance?


Back when my hair was really short, two things that I adored was being able to cut it myself (learned to perfect it over the years) and being able to get-up-and-go without a lot of prep time and sometimes even drama. Still, when it's super short, cuts have to happen on the regular and when it's kinda short, you've gotta figure out what products truly work for your hair and that ain't always no crystal stair. Even when I had a relaxed mohawk (which was super cute), relaxing it sucked during the summer because I would sweat and then my sides would stick out like a porcupine.

Moral to the story? If you've been telling yourself that big chopping will free you from having to do your hair, on some levels, that couldn't be further from the truth. It's just a different kind of work. So again, think things through and choose wisely. Oh, and if you do chop it all and end up regretting it, remember that hair always grows back and a protective style can hold you down. Now, after reading all of this — big chop or no?

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