Showing posts with label The Big Chop. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Big Chop. Show all posts

Apr 13, 2015

Ashiya's Hair Diary: The Final Cut

This weekend I had the final hair cut that brings my first loc journey to an end. Thirteen years, waist length locs and countless life lessons later, I decided to venture out for more.  Although I'll probably loc my hair again at some point, I am curious to see how my hair develops without manipulation.  I'm going with 4B as my hair type and I plan to give it what it responds to from there.

THE FINAL CUT: The first outing.
My first option didn't work out and I thought a barber would be much less emotional for me.  I knew I would have to cut a bit more of my hair to even it out and I really didn't want to.  I just wanted to chop my locs and let it go from there.  But there was a large area on the left side of my head that would not let my TWA be great.

Feb 9, 2015

Ashiya's Hair Diary: Loc Goals

When I decided to cut my locs off to restart them, I did so with a desire to "get to know" my hair texture.  I didn't need to cut anything to figure that out.  By slowing down the maintenance process, I've allowed enough new growth to become quite familiar.

Loc Goals: Lauryn's locs were always lovely.

I realized the real conversation around starting my locs should have been about texture and not about the size I wanted them to be.  I wanted to create locs that I could easily style, so their size was my biggest concern.  When I think of the maintenance they required over the years, I can see how my hair should have started out clearly now to achieve the same goal.

Jan 12, 2015


I have a wig game.

These are words I never thought I would say, but I got a crash course in the art of wearing a wig while visiting family for the holidays.

Short and Sweet.  My stepfather's face sums up this trip perfectly
It was a magically hilarious opportunity to play with color, texture and shapes I never considered.  I got to see myself in 10 different ways in 30 minutes and I loved every minute of it.

Color and Curls.
In preparation for The Big Chop III happening later this month, I decided to create a contingency plan for those days where my hair and I just might not vibe.  While it is a great thought, I considered the yoga classes and workshops that might make wig wearing... interesting.  I'm not quite sure if I can whip it on and off like my socks and shoes before class.  I was still gifted two wigs just in case.

The Lacefront Experience
The wig experience also helped me to see different colors on myself.  I think I've found my next color if I feel the need for that change. (Below) Much of the color from my initial chop and Amber's work last year will be gone after the cut, so I'm excited that this will bring me back to my natural hair color as well.

That moment when you must agree that you look exactly like your mother.
And seeing myself differently has definitely helped ease me back into the thought of having shorter hair.  In high school I went between braids and "The Halle Berry" cut, but 12 years of love and dedication to my locs definitely created a love for longer hair.  The longer locs just work for my lifestyle.

At this point, braiding is out and wigs are questionable.  I'm still looking for the right "just in case".  It just makes the chop so much easier.  But until then, I'm still amazed that I have a wig game.

Dec 8, 2014

Ashiya's Hair Diary: Know Thy Hair

"Know Thyself" is a Kemetic Proverb that has been a wonderful guide and inspiration to me over the last few years.  I apply it so often that I didn't notice it was probably the last bit of inspiration in my decision to cut and restart my locs.

4B: Photo of South African Singer Lira.

I had just a few days between The Big Chop Part I and starting this set of locs, so there was no time to become familiar with the texture of my hair.  While texture played a huge part in how my locs formed, I didn't take the time to learn what was best for my hair.  That learning period is probably the most discouraging aspect of allowing hair to exist in its natural state and why I chose to loc my hair so fast. Now I understand how that personal knowledge of my hair texture set the foundation for how I cared my for locs over the last 12 years.

4B: Short + Cute

I know the labeling systems are not perfect, but for the sake of conversation, we will call my hair 4B. (Melissa and I did a quick consultation in the parking lot, so you know its official.) I've done most of my research to this point from that aspect and have seen beautiful images and reflections of what I see in the afro "underneath" my locs.

I knew I was ready for the cut when my thoughts went from "how long will it be" to "what shape do I want".  Of course those two go hand in hand, but once the locs are gone, we'll decide then what the final cut will be.  I plan to stay open to the process, but I am leaning towards one style in particular.

4B: Solange

I have a few more weeks with this set of locs.  Another reason I'm confident in the change is Amber. I was excited for her move to Macon because I can see her each time I visit my home and family in Georgia.  I cannot wait to get in her chair.  Amber is amazing when it comes to cutting hair.  I can't wait to share what we come up with.

I'm sure I'll walk out pleased.

Nov 10, 2014

Ashiya's Hair Diary: Picks + Combs

I am still thinking about cutting my locs.  Ok.  I've pretty much decided its happening.

That's not to say I'll never have locs again, but I think this set has run its course.

I got all kinds of advice, but one piece that remained was "You'll get stronger as your locs get longer. The really do represent your strength."  I feel much stronger than my locs these days.  The other thing that remains is something I read, but I can't remember where: "You grow in and out of locs sometimes".  After 12 years, I feel that, too.

The color change in my hair is a good visual of the growth. SWAN's locs create hair lust daily.
 (Photo by Toni Denisa Photography)
All in all, we're back at the same conversation that connects the health of hair and how we wear it to who we are.  Right now, I'm allowing room for growth and progress in my life.  That's probably why I refuse to loc my hair as often.  I even refused to do it when I knew I was going to see a professional photographer for work.  I've given it room to grow. I want stronger locs.

So the question is, will cutting the current set allow the most room for growth?  Even if I don't cut them now, I will have a new set of locs in a few years anyway because of the break I've given my hair.

I went straight to locs after my first Big Chop.  I've worn my hair free with no chemicals for just a few days in my life. (Amazing!)  I can't say that I'm not interested in that experience for a while, but I know the maintenance will drive me back to locs for sure.

Young Ashley giving me hair goals.
I sorted all of this out while falling in love with chichiromeo+me.  I landed on the blog because of Julie's hair, but the fashion and photography were a lovely bonus.  Julie, Ashley and Grace all create some serious hair lust, but young Ashley may have done it for me. With a similar texture, the size of her afro seems so doable from where I am now.

Ashley with her sister Grace.  When children create hair envy.
I'm not sure when the third installment of The Big Chop will happen or how long the afro stage will last this time.  I may not even reach Ashley's length.

Because at the end of at it all, I want a healthy set of locs.  But I am up for some adventure, in the mean time.

Read more about chichiromeo+me here.  You'll love this beautiful family!

Jul 25, 2014

Roots & Rhythm: Erykah Badu - "Apple Tree"

A few weeks ago I did a quick survey on Facebook to see what artists keep you moving through life and one of my favorites came up: Erykah Badu.

We've shared Erykah here before of course, but with such varying looks over the years, we can talk about her hair and music and what she has inspired for a while.  This led to me to think of the most dramatic change I've made when it came to my hair.  I would think that it was when I cut my hair to start my locs, but somehow I think my recent cut was more shocking to others - and to me.  What about you?  What was your moment?

We've seen Miss Badu explore with length, color and texture over the years.  Have you had a similar hair story or was your journey about steady progress with a sudden, drastic move. Take a trip down memory lane on this Flashback Friday!

"Apple Tree" from her Live album is one of my favorite songs from Erykah Badu.  This version is classic.  If you've ever seen her in concert, you know that she may do anything from play the drums to dancing or telling stories and rhyming.  If you are a fan and have not seen her live, please do!  Enjoy this mini concert performance used as promotion for the Java Jazz Festival in 2012.

Kenya McClain, this one is for you!  Thank you for being a part of the Natural in Nashville community!

Apr 10, 2014

Ashiya's Hair Diary: The Big Chop II

Style concept and cut by Amber Curry.

Yes.  This really happened today.  Not because I wanted it to, but because it needed to.

For some time, I've been torn about my locs.  It was obvious that the length was taking a toll on the health of my hair and I've avoided the real solution for some time.

Style concept and cut by Amber Curry.

I knew I would cut it eventually, but I did want to free form for a few months before The Big Chop II.  However, a quick chat with Kristi from Kinki Rootz at the NIN Spring Meet Up confirmed what Amber and I suspected, but had not said officially:  the cut had to happen first.

Style concept and cut by Amber Curry.

So here we are.  The loc renewal is official.  It is a new day with a new look and Amber and I are creating a new regimen.  Stay tuned!

Feb 13, 2014

DISCUSSION: 3 Phases of being a Natural

 I spent the weekend with one of my friends who is newly natural. It was kinda of nostalgic listening to her ask questions about every product under the sun. I remember how clueless I used to be when I first went natural. And I remember all the mistakes I made - but each mistake led me to learning more about my hair.

i thought it'd be fun to discuss the 3 phases of being natural. Hopefully our newly natural readers can have soe faith on this journey. Believe me it will be exciting.


For many of you, the Big Chop will usher you into this Natural Hair world. Whether you transitioned (grew you hair to a desirable length without adding chemical straighteners) or just took the razor to your scalp - you are here! I'm also including the BIG REVEAL/FIRST TIME USERS as some ladies have been natural for YEARS, but covered it up by wearing weaves or braids. Nevertheless, this is the first time you've had to take care of your hair and you may be clueless.
  • Your family thinks your crazy for cutting off "all that pretty hair".
  • You've chosen a natural hair maven to copy and she's you new hair idol.
  • You and You-Tube have become best friends finding techniques that may work for you
  • Oh SNAP, you became a product junky! Curl-definers, moisturizers, shine enhancers, you have them ALL!
  • Oh yeah, everything needs to be natural - no parabans or sulfates, or heat, not here!
  • Every natural hair girl you see you ask her about her regimine, making mental notes to try that process.
  • Some days you love your hair, some days you hate it, and some days you are TWO STEPS away from going back to the creamy crack! LOL!
  • You spend your lunch-break reading natural hair blogs like Natural in Nashville.

PHASE 2:  Two Years Natural, thinking about making this a life decision

By second year of your Natural Hair journey you've got the hang of some things, but you still have questions. By now you've got a bit of length and you are trying new styles. You may even have a go-to look that you know is guaranteed to look cute and get compliments.
  • You've visited a natural hair salon and she cut your precious strands too much claiming you needed a trim. You were MAD!
  • You may have tried color or henna to enhance your style
  • You've figured out that sometimes 'un-natural' products help. 
  • You've mixed some products in your kitchen, DIY is your deal!
  • Your friends come to you for natural hair advice
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil is your best friend - it's in that spray bottle, in you kitchen, and even mixed in you fave shampoo.
  • You don't mind giving away products to friends. Didn't work for you, might work for her.
  • You have your 'go-to' blogs, you-tubers, and products.
  • You still have bad hair days, but nothing that an elastic head-band can't fix.
  • You think about LOC'ing your hair - you experiment with braids and extensions.
  • Sometime, you still have hair envy - your curls just don't pop the way you want all the time.

PHASE 3:  Welcome to the comfort zone!

I'm not saying that it will take you three years to get comfortable being natural, I'm saying by year three, I guarantee you'll be comfortable.  By year three (and beyond) you've found the length that works for you and the products too. No longer the product junky you once were, you've become the guru for family and friends - you may even start a blog or a You-Tube channel.
  • Some of you friends or co-workers can't remember you with relaxed hair.
  • You've had your hair heat straightened and you weren't scared about it.
  • Sometimes you are a know-it-all about your texture
  • You are thinking about Re-Chopping your hair.
  • You are no longer attached to the elastic headband, although, you know exactly where to find one.
  • You wince at the sight of a lady with broken relaxed hair
  • #TeamNatural #NaturalNazi - you don't care as long as you hair looks good.
  • Your hair has converted strangers to start the journey
  • A good trim, you know who can do it and when it's necessary.
  • You family is finally happy with the way your hair looks.
I hope you enjoyed this list. Of course alot of this is meant to be funny but some of it is very true! I just want you newly naturals to know, IT GETS BETTER it just takes patience.

Readers, where are you in your natural journey? What have you experienced?

Sep 27, 2013

Roots & Rhythm: Solange - "Lovers In The Parking Lot"

How do you find your place in life when your sister seems larger than life?  According to Solange, just do your thing.  When Beyonce first started to reach major success with Destiny's Child, Solange was entering her teens and over the years, she has blossomed in her own place in the spotlight.

Solange rocking her hair straight with Beyonce.
Solonge's ability to be authentic in music and fashion was the stepping stone that took her from "Beyonce's little sister" to an singer/songwriter with her own record label.  In addition to creating music, modeling, and acting, Solange reminds us that motherhood can be a very real part of any dream.

Solange's afro starts coming in after the big chop.
Set to release her third studio album next year, Solange released the video for her new single, "Lovers in the Parking Lot" recently.  Again in song, imagery, and fashion Solange is true to herself creating a video that pulls you into simply because you want to figure out what is going on.  I think her music gets better with each album.  I'm looking forward to this release.

Solange performing in braids expressing her love for prints.
Solange has a special place in my heart.  Even if I don't like a particular fashion or music choice, I still love it for her.  I admire her ability to "go off script" at any moment.  In a world where many artists play to their image, she has created an image that is a statement of her personal truth.  Whether she's speaking music, family or politics, she seems to express exactly what she feels.  I can dig it.

For the last week in this Super September, we hope Solange's freedom in creativity inspires your own. Read more about Solange and her upcoming project at  For now, here's her new single "Lover's in the Parking Lot."


So, are you a fan of Solange's music, her fashion sense or both?

Aug 27, 2013

HAIR LUST: The perfect TWA

I love various levels of the natural hair sphere. From the buzz cut, to the TWA, to long and luxurious, every phase is gloriuous. I always make sure to remind myself to enjoy each phase because sometimes I find myself envying my fellow curl sister.

Anyway, is this not the most perfect TWA ever. The hair color on top and the slight coils give this cut a soft elegance. I post this photo in hopes to inspire you to embrace your natural, in whatever phase you're in!

Photography- Raymond Croft; Model -Ayana Wildgoose

Jul 2, 2013

Kid Kool: Kicking it Old School!

This weekend I had the pleasure if giving my godson a 'mini' makeover. For the last three months, he's been growing out his hair to get a new style. Well, new to him … not to us.

My godson, J'halin, went to a consultation with my favorite barber, Tristan (celeb barber to the stars) who told him how to maintain his hair until he got his new cut. 

Before the cut, three months worth of growth
After that, I watched my little homie go through what a lot of us ladies go through when growing out our hair. He had to learn how to take care of a longer length, wash it more often, and learn what moisturizers kept his "head from being itchy."  It was a struggle for him. His mom made him learn to take care of his hair because this was the first time he was able to choose what type of haircut he wanted.

Before and After!
In the end, he was able to rock his new style: A modified box fade with a side step part! Kicking it old school like Omar Epps from the movie 'Juice'!

Thanks TRISTAN for the amazing haircut! Almost had me thinking about cutting my hair again! Wanna get you little prince a fly cut? Contact Celeb Barber, Tristan, here.

Jun 17, 2013

Ashiya's Hair Diary: A New Attitude

Over the past few weeks, I've become a lot more relaxed about my hair.  I decided to Let It Breathe for a bit and that decision calmed my energy tremendously.  After allowing my locs to free form for a while, things are getting too tangled and its time for some maintenance.  As always, chilling out helped me to see some things clearly.

Because we all play with the camera on our phone from time to time...

Oct 1, 2012

Melissa's Hair: My Big Chop Mistakes

With this weave, I decided to transition in 2008
 I haven't posted a hair diary in months. Truth be told my hair and I were not getting along. I started a new workout regimen and I really didn't know how to deal with all this dense coily hair. I sweat in my scalp, so my stretched hair tends to shrink and tangle. Anyway, braids is where I live until November. So I thought, why not tell you about my transition/big chop story?

I started the transition process in 2008. I wore weaves (above) and after each installation I would chop an inch of my hair. By the summer of 2009 when I chopped all my perm off leaving me with about two inches of hair. How did I feel with my TWA? Shock is what I experienced! My hair was so short. Shorter than it had ever been. Then, it was really DRY! Being newly natural, I didn't know what to do. My permed hair was dry too, but I could mask it with oil sheen and all that jazz. 

I went to the Internet - further confusing myself! I have another post on the importance of taking advice of naturals with your similar hair type - because I was running around like a chicken with her head cut off trying to get Taren's ringlets, Traci's volume, and Newly Natural's length. I wasn't listening to my hair so I went to what I know best - braids. I had micro braids installed and rocked them out for three months. The best way to deal with any situation is to avoid it - right? Lol!

Micro-braids - MY FAVORITE transition style
Finally, I thought I was ready to wear my hair. I took 12 hours to remove my micros. When finally removed, I made the ultimate mistake - I colored my hair with store bought box color. Now, I'm not saying coloring your hair is a bad thing, but ME coloring MY hair was a horrible decision. Most stylists tell you to allow a professional to color your hair. My hair doesn't do well with color - relaxed or natural. So what happened? I ended up having to cut all that color out of my hair. Lost about two DAMAGED inches. I retained no length and I felt like I was losing the battle of the natural hair.
September 2009 - My big chop - then had to chop the color off. :-(
However, one day it just clicked. After trying several routines, regimens and products, I listened to my hair and figured out what it liked. Each mistake was discovery that led to the best hair ever. My hair likes to be washed every 4 days, it likes silicones, it likes pomade style hair oil, it loves cream based hair products, it likes water, and it doesn't mind being in protective styles. Finding what worked for me was a JOURNEY (to say the least) but the journey left me with a wealth of info to share with you.

2011 - Finally got this thang right!
What is the future for my hair? After I remove my Senegalese twists I'm going to be braid free until next summer. My NEW plan is to dedicate my time to growing my hair and retaining length. This will be another journey, but at least I now know what direction to move in.

Summer 2012 - Oh! La Fro likes to be protected! My bun before getting braided up.

Sep 25, 2012

CELEB STYLE: Tia Mowry does the BIG CHOP

One half of the Mowry sisters, Tia Mowry, just chopped her tresses! Tia left her role on BET's The Game in order to put her foot in more endeavors. The new mom and new author, who is known for her long hair, was spotted in CA with super short curls. I feel like this will define her as an actress. She looks very mature and lovely!

 Do we love it?

Aug 9, 2012

U.N.I.T.Y.- The Weekend My Friend Melanie and I Bonded Over Our Hair

I promise we did not plan the matching blue tops. I swear. 

During my friend Melanie's and my 12 year friendship, we have talked about pretty much everything under the sun.  But until recently we rarely ever discussed our racial differences.  We just have so many things in common that discussing our differences just barely ever comes up.  Well a few months ago Melanie asked me if I would be interested in watching Chris Rock's documentary Good Hair together. "I just think it would be so fun to watch together." she said.  Having already seen the film, I chuckled at the thought of my possibly having to further break down certain things in the film regarding my culture for her. Then something dawned on me.

Melanie was interested in this movie because she was intrigued about black hair.  To say that I was less than intrigued about a white woman's hair would be an understatement. I'm just going to be honest here.  At the time, I felt like ever since I was a little girl I've been overloaded with knowledge about the European standards of beauty.  Unless I bought a magazine that was geared towards black women, chances are that every other magazine had articles that catered to enhancing the beauty of white women.  And really with all that I have had to do to my hair in over thirty years from weaves to braids to bi-level stacks and The Big Chop, I could  not fathom that the plight of the white woman to keep her hair in check could even compare.  And wasn't their hair pretty much all of the same anyway?  Does that sound a little close minded to you? Yeah me too. That's why I changed my mind and came up with an idea. "Why don't we watch the movie and do our hair together?" I said.  Saturday was coming up and with that being my Big Hair Day consisting of pre-pooing, washing, deep conditioning, etc,. I figured we could really get into what it took for us to individually maintain our hair. This was perfect timing as Melanie's own "Big Hair Day" was coming up because she had to touch up her roots with hair color. She loved the idea and we set a date.

Mar 20, 2012

Ashiya's Hair: 10 Years Long

October 2009

July 2002
When I decided to wear my hair in it's natural state, I was desperate.  It was falling out in patches and I felt like I was loosing my mind along with my hair.  It was just a few days before I graduated from college and my classmates were taking pictures to capture the moment we had worked so hard to achieve.  Between a creative best friend, a few scarves and the cap required for the ceremony, I survived the weekend.  I have a friend that started her locs a few months before graduation, so I decided to follow her lead.  I did not know much about locs then, but I knew more than I ever wanted to about relaxers.  At the time, I thought my classmates might question what was going on with my hair that weekend for the rest of our lives, but I decided I wasn't going to wonder any longer.  In March of 2002,  I was ready for The Big Chop.  A close friend was my stylist at the time and when she hesitated, I channeled Angela Bassett from Waiting to Exhale and started cutting.  

Jan 21, 2012

Discussion: Getting To Know Your Face

"Going natural looks good on you, but it wouldn't look right on me."

I hear this way too often. So I've been thinking, and I have a theory. I don't think it's only the hair that makes natural hair 'not look right'. I think we are so used to hiding our faces behind long hair that the thought of our face not partially hidden under a cloak of hair is a bit unnerving.

Have you taken a minute to look at your face? I mean.. REALLY look at your face? What's so scary about a face your face that you can't imagine wearing your hair curly? It's okay. I had to get acquainted with my own face. I also gathered some naturals at different stages in the journey to share their feelings about their faces after going natural.

So... here's me before going natural.

My hair was almost always at least shoulder length. I was well aware of my forehead. And my whole head. It's big. I cut my hair (first picture), but still kept my forehead covered. It was like second nature. I was self conscious. That's why I transitioned for a year instead of doing the big chop.


 HELLO FOREHEAD! My high cheeks looked higer. And my nose and lips looked say more.... "ethnic" to me once I saw my face without hair. And it took a while, but now I'm fine with that. Also... I learned that a round face was MUCH more noticeable sans a side swoop. You can look at my pictures and tell when I was heavier. 



Shana has worn short hair for years: long before her big chop in November. She was self-conscious of the shape of her head before going natural. But she decided that natural was the way to go.

After going natural, Shana has more of an appreciation for her natural features. The biggest change for her was a "natural state of mind".  She considers going natural the best decision she's made regarding her appearance, and is really happy to start her hair journey.
This was Sade with a relaxer. I love her pretty hair. The jury is still out on what Sade noticed about her own face. So I'll tell you what I noticed. She's 'girl next door' cute.

Her face stands out SO much more. She's a doll, and much prettier. THe shape of her eyes stand out so much more. She doesn't look different. It's just that everything is... "er". Her smile is smiley-er. Eyes are pretty-er. She looks the same. Except the face in THIS photo would shand out much more in a crowd.
I know we all have insecurities. But if you're afraid that your natural hair won't "look right" because of your facial features, RELAX! There are unique things about all of us. But these differences make us unique. Never be afraid to flaunt your natural beauty. Your face was made to "look right". You never know what you might find underneath your side swoop/bangs/face framing hair.

Jan 2, 2012

DISCUSSION: What's my hair type?

Hola Curly Cuties!

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season! The NIN crew rested quite nicely - visiting family and friends. But now it's time to get back to business.

So since this is a new year, I know many women are making resolutions and some of you were directed to this page because you did the big chop! If you did, good for you! Now you have the question of all naturals - what is my hair type?

A couple weeks ago I found this handy hair type guide. The hair typing system widely used by natural  women was created by celebrity stylist Andre Walker. I felt this was one of the best illustrations to describe natural hair types. Finding your hair type is the first step to figuring out what products you want to use to get the results you want.

As your hair grows, your hair type will change. You may have several different curl types on your head. Like me, I have am mostly 4a but I have 3c hair on my sides - weird but true. So, get ready!

Keep in mind, no hair type is better than the other. In addition, no hair type grows faster than the other. The key to growing longer and stronger natural hair is retaining moisture, protecting the ends of your hair, and paying attention to what your hair needs by developing a regimen that works for you. This process takes patience, but you can do it. You can grow your hair to great lengths without chemicals.

Check out they have the best listing of products divided by hair type

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