How To Do The Big Chop In 5 Easy Steps

My first big chop was terrifying. I won’t lie. I had no idea what to expect, but I did some online research and proceeded to chop more than half my hair off. After several years and 2 more big chops, I can chop my hair off in my sleep (OK, not really). Bad jokes aside, I want to share the valuable knowledge that I’ve gained with you. In this article, we will dive into how to do the big chop in 5 easy steps.

What the Heck is The Big Chop?

For my readers who don’t know what the big chop is, I’ll give you a short explanation here.

After people over-process their hair with relaxers or hair color, burn it to death with a flat iron, or otherwise damage it beyond repair, they are left with unattractive, brittle, hair. There are 2 main choices to get rid of the damaged hair.

The first option is to transition by (1) stopping chemical use or other damaging practices and (2) nursing the hair back to health while (3) trimming over time to get rid of the damaged hair. There is no dramatic haircut associated with transitioning.

The second option, which is this the focus of this article, is to big chop. Big chopping is usually done under the same circumstances as transitioning (there is a need to get rid of damaged hair). The main difference is that, instead of trimming the hair regularly to get rid of the damaged hair, most if not all of the damaged hair is cut off at once.

Now that we are all up to speed on what the big chop is, let’s talk about how to do it in 5 easy steps.

Step 1: Shampoo, Condition, and Detangle Your Hair

To prep your hair for the big chop, you need to make sure that you are starting on freshly shampooed and conditioned hair.

Why do you need to do all of this?

  1. Everyday styling stretches curly hair out, making it difficult to tell what part of your hair needs to be cut. It would be impossible to cut off only your damaged/straight ends if all of your hair is still straight or stretched from the last time you styled your hair.
  2. Washing your hair allows you to get rid of any product buildup prior to cutting your hair.

So, if you skip this step, you risk not getting the results that you are going for.


Ensure that your hair is free of all buildup so that you can see your hair’s true length around your entire head.

Condition and Detangle

Your hair should be completely saturated with conditioner so that you can detangle your hair without breaking off any fragile ends.
Detangle your hair either with your hands or your favorite detangling tool. Whatever tool you use, be gentle on your hair and take your time. Read my article on detangling here for additional assistance.

Step 2: Dry Your Hair

For Tighter Curls (Type 4 Curls)

*Skip this step*

For Looser Curls (Type 2 and 3 Curls)

Dry your hair completely, either by air drying or blow drying.

This step is important for prepping to cut your hair, because cutting your hair while it is dry gives you the best opportunity to cut off only what you need to. You’ll also be able to see right away how the look is coming together vs. having to wait until your hair is dry to see your results.

Step 3: Section Your Hair

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Section your hair into 4 sections, or more if your hair is very thick. Divide your hair with either a wide-tooth comb, a rat-tail comb, or your fingers. The sections do not need to be perfect. Secure the sections.

Quick Tip for Looser Curls: Be careful not to secure the individual sections tightly. Secure them very loosely so that your curls are not disturbed. Satin hair scrunchies work well for this.

Step 4: Get Hair Cutting Shears

Please don’t break out your old safety scissors from elementary school to cut your hair!

You need hair shears. Buying some basic hair shears will enable you to avoid damaged ends from dull blades. Hair shears are much sharper than random scissors that are not meant for hair.
You can find some affordable shears here on Amazon. Click the link or image for the current price and more information.

Step 5: Start Cutting

Now that you’ve got clean, sectioned hair, and shears, it’s time to start cutting.

Follow the instructions for your matching hair type.

For Tight Curls (Type 4)

Start with any section you’d like and apply your favorite moisturizer. Add more water and moisturizer as needed to clump your curls. This will make it easier to see where you need to cut (where your healthy hair ends and your damaged hair begins).

After your hair has clumped together, take a curl or two at a time and cut off the damaged hair.

Keep completed sections out of the way with hair clips.

Repeat this step for all of the other sections and you are done!

For Looser Curls (Types 2 and 3)

Choose a curl and cut exactly where your natural hair ends and the processed or damaged hair begins. Do that for every curl.

If you want to save time, you can cut groups of clumped curls at a time. I do not prefer this method, but not everyone has enough time to cut every single curl individually.

Keep completed sections out of the way with hair clips or satin scrunchies.

Repeat this step for all of the other sections and you are done!


I advise anyone opting for the big chop not to cut corners. It can be tempting to just get to cutting, but doing the big chop the right way will ensure that you get the result that you want.

There is nothing in the hair world that is more freeing than getting rid of the damage all at once! I wish you the best with your big chop and your hair journey as a whole, and I hope that this article is helpful to you in some way!

If you have any comments, questions, or concerns, please share them in the comments. You can also reach me via the “Contact Us” page.

Thanks for reading!

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