The Big Chop is more than just a haircut, it’s a form of treatment. Most of the time when we get a dramatic haircut, it’s because we are looking for a big change. Breakups, job changes, and moving to a new place are often catalysts for a major hair transformation. But for those considering ‘the big chop” there’s an altogether different motive: hair health.
Technically speaking, a haircut is considered a “big chop” when you are cutting medium to long hair close to the scalp. The idea of cutting off most of your hair can be both intimidating and liberating, and no matter where you land on that opinion spectrum, there are some important things to consider before and after the cut.
Do You Need a Big Chop?
Whether you are a chronic lightener or curling wand addict, there are certain types of hair that are more prone to damage than others. Curly, wavy and fine hair are generally considered to be on the more delicate side. The “big chop” is actually a term popularized by the naturally curly community in reference to dramatic, short haircuts gotten to encourage new, healthier hair growth.
Those of us who often chemically treat or use heat to style our haircut experience a LOT of damage. While a consistent care routine can help to lessen the effects, sometimes the impact is just too much for our hair to handle. The only answer at that point is to start completely fresh.
If your hair is limp, dull, extremely dry or you are experiencing breakage and you have tried both at-home and in-salon treatments with little to no improvement, it may be time to consider the Big Chop.
Potential Psychological Impact
While cutting off most of your hair can do wonders for improving your hair health, it can also have a temporary impact on your mental health. There are two main reasons for this, mainly the disruption to our self-image and the eschewing of traditional beauty standards. Luckily, a little preparation can help to offset these effects.
Anytime we make a dramatic change to our appearance, there is a psychological impact. Over time, we become accustomed to how we look to ourselves and this forms a large basis of our self-concept. When we make dramatic change to how we look, it can be incredibly jarring and take some time to get used to. You can help to prepare yourself for a post big chop look by purchasing a wig that closely resembles your new look before hand.
An alternative to this would be to start styling your hair “up” or wearing hats for a week or two before your big chop. This will get you used to seeing less hair around your face, which can help you start to transition to the idea of having a lot less hair.
Additionally, other people’s reactions to a new ultra-short style can have an impact on our self-esteem. It’s likely that if you are going from a history of long hair down to an ultra short pixie-cut, there will be some reactions from your friends and family. Take some time to think about this before hand and prepare yourself mentally for unsolicited feedback and potentially unwelcome opinions. It can help to prepare some responses beforehand, in order to establish boundaries around what you are and are not willing to discuss in terms of your new look.
After the Big chop
If you are used to having long hair and moving into a closely cropped cut, be prepared to have a LOT of extra time on your hands. Besides being edgy and fashion-forward, ultra-short cuts typically take much less time (and product!) to care for and style.
If you plan on using your big chop as a “starting over” point to growing your hair long again, you will go through a few awkward growing phases. Don’t be tempted to take drastic action—like a chemical treatment.
Since you’ve likely cut off all of the damage, you hair will start to grow in healthier than before. With a little care and a lot of patience, you will reach your desired length being able to focus on maintenance rather than repair. but then again, who knows? You just may end up liking the new you that comes with a Big Chop!