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Once upon a time, going natural wasn’t considered to be the norm in the Black hair community. After all, rocking straight hair — via hair relaxers — was known to be a rite of passage for many Black girls growing up. Over the years, we’ve seen every day women and celebrities alike ditch the chemical treatment in favor of the big chop to sport natural tresses. With the new change comes the job of learning how to navigate and feel confident about your natural texture.

The idea of the big chop may seem like a simple task, but there is a lot that goes into it. For starters, finding a stylist that specializes in natural hair is key. Not to mention, learning the ins and outs of a proper haircare routine will keep your natural tresses in tip-top shape. Stepping into big chop territory confidently requires the right information, so celebrity hairstylist Monaé Everett is here to share all the details on what to expect before making the commitment.

From realizing that the big chop is not something that should be taken into your own hands, to learning how to keep your natural texture moisturized, Monaé is ready to set the record straight. Ready for a natural hair lesson? Keep reading for five things you should know before deciding to undergo the big chop.

1. Always entrust your big chop with a stylist! This is not the time for experimentation.

These days, watching a few YouTube tutorials can make anyone feel that they can master any specialty. However, that’s not the case when it comes to executing the big chop. The right level of expertise is needed so you can make the transition with ease. “It’s absolutely not wise to take the big chop into your own hands,” Monaé shares. “That’s because you’re starting anew. And if you’re not a hairstylist and you create a style that doesn’t look good on you it can taint your view of having shorter, natural hair.”

2. The best way to go about the big chop is to cut it off and start fresh, but transitioning can work in your favor as well.

Making the switch from long hair to a short length can feel like the ultimate shock. But, completely cutting off your hair is not your only option. Transitioning will allow you to grow out your natural hair before cutting off the relaxed ends to give you some length to work with.

“Most people are not able to cut off their hair for a plethora of reasons including confidence, not liking short hair with their face shape, work engagements or other priorities,” Monaé explains. “So, if you decide to go natural —meaning to stop relaxing your hair — try protective styles to at least give you a few inches of growth. Many people find this method to be easier.”

3. Consider your protective style choice when transitioning.

Protective styles work wonders for keeping your strands in shape while giving you a gorgeous ‘do to flaunt. Monaé shares that some protective styles are better than others due to the risk of excessive pulling and hair damage. “A cornrow protective style is better than an individual protective style,” she explains. “I see a lot of things that go wrong with individual braids and faux locs because the extension hair can be rough and rip out your natural hair. To me, the best protective styles that I see generally are cornrows, a sew-in weave, or any style in that lane.”

4. Take account of your lifestyle before opting for the big chop.

It’s important to determine if having short hair fits your lifestyle. Short hair is not necessarily easier to deal with, especially when you consider styling practices and maintenance. “Before giving a client the big chop, I figure out do they live a lifestyle that short hair will work for,” Monaé shares. “If you have someone that’s specialty is not hair, they may really struggle with how to get those curls popping or how to do a short twist out. If you have someone that’s good with hair, then they may do very well with just cutting it very short.”

5. Maintaining a solid haircare routine is essential for healthy-looking natural hair.

The big chop leaves you with short hair, but that doesn’t mean that your haircare routine should change. Following a strict regimen of nourishing your strands is vital for healthy hair. “You have to make sure that you’re moisturizing and you need to make sure that you get your health together on the inside,” she shares. “Drink a bunch of water, eat vegetables and have a great protein intake. That’s how you’re going to get the best results. No matter what we do topically, internally you’re going to get the best results from that.”

Not to mention, locking in moisture via the LOC method is a fabulous way to cover all the bases. “After a great shampoo and conditioner, you always want to follow up while the hair is still damp with a leave-in conditioner,” she shares. “Use jojoba oil for some sheen and follow up with castor oil and a gel or cream to really lock it in.” 

For more haircare tips, be sure to follow Monaé on Instagram. Known for sharing advice and her life as a hairstylist to the stars, she is also busy with the first-ever Texture Style Awards. Presented by the Wella Company, the historic event will honor top hairstylists for their work in one of four categories: straight, wavy, curly and oily/kinky. Tune in on Monday, July 5, 2021, at 8p.m. EST on texturestylewards.com to watch it all go down.

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5 Things You Should Know Before You Consider A Big Chop  was originally published on hellobeautiful.com

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