So you’ve finally decided to stop relaxing your hair and go au naturale! But first things first. Do you plan on “transitioning” (i.e., gradually growing out your perm) or going for “the big chop” (snipping off your relaxed hair and starting over from scratch)?

Of course, there are pros and cons for each. If you transition, you’ll get to keep your length, but you’ll have to deal with styling multi-textured tresses. If you do the big chop, you’ll get rid of your relaxer in one fell swoop, but you might be left with only an inch of hair. 

Still undecided? Check out these testimonials from our readers who’ve gone through one or both processes and lived to tell the tale!

“I was going to transition, but an hour before I went to work, I walked into Target and decided to cut it all off. I’m glad I did it. I usually go where the wind blows when it comes to my hair. It’s an accessory; it’ll grow back fast!” —Un’Dralique Broussar

“It took years to work up the courage, but I did the BC in 1997 and loved it! I wore it short and sassy until about 3 years ago when I let it grow and found the hair I always wanted.”  –Orgena Rose

“I transitioned for eighteen months and I just realized that it’s not for me. My hair was very long and became very unmanageable, so I gave in and opted for a texturizer. When I decide to go natural again I’ll be doing the big chop.”  –Lex Hart

“I tried to transition but my hair did its own big chop! It eventually grew back, but going natural has definitely been a challenge. Ladies, please do your research beforehand.”  –Masha Taylor Gentry

“I got scissors and cut it off all by myself!! And I love it. I didn’t know I have such curly/wavy hair. 100% natural beauty.”  –Marie Whitehead Williams

“I transitioned, and in the interim I did a few months with a sew-in, a few months without a weave to let my hair breathe, and then I’d go back to sew-ins for a few more months. Almost four years later I’m completely natural.”  –Robin Taylor

“I did the big chop years ago, but I always used to wear it straightened. Since giving birth to my daughter three years ago, I wear it curly. Seeing her big fluffy curls made me fallen back in love with mine.”  –Dennise Rhynes

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“I’m going through the transition right now. I couldn’t do the big chop; my head’s too big for that!”  –Ronnell M. Perry

“I’m four and a half months into my transition, with very little shedding. My hair gets tangled when I wash it, but I don’t have any trouble when my hairdresser does it.”  –Monesia Dingle-Kindle

“My last relaxer was February of this year. I transitioned until two weeks ago, when I finally cut the last of the relaxed hair off. I love my natural hair… can’t wait to rock a Chaka Khan ‘fro!”  –Karen Handy 

“I transitioned for a year and then I big-chopped in November ’06. That same year I joined an online forum for women of color that focuses on growing long healthy hair; that’s helped a lot. The key is moisturizing and conditioning; that’s what helped my hair grow to bra strap length when stretched.”  –Madalena Pedro Miala

“I transitioned from May to Dec 2009; then I got frustrated and chopped. I love it! I just wish I had more education on how to style it. I’ve recently started a new job and have been wearing a weave but I’m ready to wear my hair.”  –Janessa Ellis

“Transitioning worked for me for a while, but those two textures are a beast to deal with! After eleven months, I big chopped. Anyone going natural should look at natural blogs, websites, and videos to get all the info you can.”  –Keisha Bradford Billups

“I did the big chop. When I called my hairstylist, she was hesitant and ‘unavailable.’ So I contacted another stylist and did it in an hour. Being spontaneous was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”  –Melody Clark

“If you transition you’ll get discouraged, but if you do ‘the big chop’ you’ll feel liberated and proud to be a Black woman. It will set you free.”  –Dornita M. Herndon