However, I wouldn't call what I did the 'big chop', since I continually cut my permed ends off over a period of time.
It took me about 11 months to grow out my relaxer while maintaining a decent length of hair (chin length bob). I found that my hair grew much faster without a relaxer than it ever did with one. Luckily for me, since I really had ZERO interest in cutting all of my hair off! The real big chop was not an option for me. I did, however, wear a half wig for most of those 11 months while in transition. It was a great way for me to allow my hair to have a break, as I only kept the front bang out to blend while the rest stayed braided. It also allowed me to stay 'corporate' and 'comfortable' during the transition stage where I had absolutely no clue what to do with my hair! When I wasn't wearing the half wig, I did a braid-set... cornrowing my hair back while wet (one of my favorite styles with and without a relaxer).
I continued to use the same products that I used when I had a relaxer - Creme of Nature Moisturizing shampoo, Pantene conditioner, and Moroccan oil - and I had a single stylist and washer at the salon, since I found it really difficult to wash my hair by myself. I might also add that although I made the decision to go natural (aka without a relaxer or any other chemicals in my hair), I still loved my straight hair, and I really didn't know what to do with it otherwise. Needless to say, I was a 'natural who straightens' for the first four years, only really allowing my hair to 'just be' in the summertime... Curly ponytails and messy up-do's forced by humidity. Otherwise, I would get a wash and blow, and my hair would be just as straight as when I had a perm, so that was perfect for me. The problem came when I wanted to start doing the 'wash-and-go' that so many other natural divas were doing. I quickly noticed that my curl patterns were all over the place because I had been straightening!
So one day, I just decided to allow my hair to be free... Let it 'do what it do'! Since I was free-lancing and working mostly from home at the time, that decision came easily. I didn't need my hair straightened as often, nor could I afford it as often anyway. Although the back of my hair was still more tightly coiled than the rest of my hair, I began to see more of a consistency in my curl pattern when I stopped straightening it... and I loved it! I still straighten my hair about 3-4 times a year, so that I can trim it, but I can finally say that I'm actually beginning to EMBRACE my natural 'do! Curly, frizzy, big, or straight... Braided, twisted, or slicked into a neat bun... There is no way I'd be able to enjoy this versatility with relaxed hair. It's amazing!
Even at 7 years, it's still a journey! I go to Youtube to view all of the podcasts available for style and product tips, and I'm always looking for a new 'do! I'll be getting Senegalese twists as a 'protective style' to give my hair a winter break. I don't have any pics posted on here, but feel free to hit me up if you have any questions. Maybe I'll post pics in a later entry...
Btw... my fave products now are...
-Carol's Daughter Black Vanilla Sulfate-free Shampoo... I've just come to realize that 'sulfate-free' shampoos are the best!
-TRESemme Conditioner Flawless Curls
-Pantene 'truly Natural hair' CoWash
-Cantu Shea Butter Leave-in Conditioning Cream... Great for my twist-outs
-Moroccan Oil Treatment (the original brand is the best and smells lovely, but it's rather expensive) Garnier Fructis and Organix also have great versions of the oil
-Coconut Oil... Any organic or all natural brand
-Ecco Olive Oil gel (green tinted)
If you're considering going natural, I say DO IT!! Unless you do a 'big chop', that transitional period can be extremely discouraging. Two different textures are not easy to deal with! You may even find yourself ready to get that relaxer touch-up again. Trust me I know!! I actually had three failed attempts before I made the full commitment! But gurrrrlllll, am I so glad I did (and so is my scalp, by the way)!!
Keep in mind, that the decision to go natural does not have to be about Afros and Black Power, although ain't nothin' wrong with either! It is, however, as much of a lifestyle change as becoming a vegetarian... Or deciding to eat healthy, in general. When we eliminate toxins from our bodies, both inside and out, we are allowing our bodies to thrive in ways that can improve our overall health, beauty, and confidence! Be good to your body and your hair, and they will be good to you!!
However you choose to rock your 'do, just make sure that it's clean and healthy!! And please remember this...
Do it with STYLE, and seal it with a KISS!