There is tons of information out there about how to tell when your natural hair needs a trim. Tapering ends. Rough ends. Breaking ends. Splitting ends. Ends that won’t stay twisted or braided (that unravel).
The truth is, for a transitioner, all of that is a part of the daily deal. By virtue of transitioning from damaged hair, transitioner hair is tapered significantly from the newly grown natural hair. Because the hair is damaged by relaxer or heat, they are likely dry, and can be rough. And of course, there is the ever-present breakage, and not the slightest chance that a twist or braid will hold up without something holding it together.
Well, why not just cut it all off then?
I’m sure some of you are thinking that very thing right now. The truth is, not everyone wants to just big chop. I certainly didn’t. In fact, I transitioned for 21 long and arduous months. It wasn’t always pretty, there were more boring days than glam, but I don’t regret the decision one bit. The payoff was worth the sacrifice, for me.
But back to the topic at hand. There is a wealth of information on trimming natural hair, and very little for transitioners. The first step to getting a handle on trimming transitoner hair is understanding the signs of needing a trim:
How Often Should Transitioners Trim?
Inside of your first year of transitioning, barring any major incidences of breakage or hair fall that would suggest a more immediate need, trimming every 3–4 months is sufficient. Of course every head of hair is different, and you should always assess your own hair and hair goals to determine what trimming schedule best suits your needs. If you are looking to get rid of more hair sooner, trim more frequently. If you are more inclined to hold on to length, opt for less frequency.
Long-term transitioners (1 year plus) often find themselves being a little more vigilant about trims, and doing them more frequently. This is because of the one-two-three punch of ends being weathered, damaged, and well, holding on to them past their prime. They tend to wear out, break, and split more often. After about a year and 3 months of transitioning, I found myself trimming away at some ends almost every 2 or 3 weeks. In between trims, I did mini search and destroy missions. Part of this was my ends needing more trimming, because they were breaking more rapidly. The other part was sheer impatience — I was able to see more of my natural hair texture, so I got anxious. Especially when I began wearing wash and go styles. As I said previously, be sure to assess your own hair and hair goals to determine what trim schedule works for you.
How Much To Cut?
This is also another one of those things that depends upon your hair’s needs, and your own goals. It also depends on how comfortable you are individually with cutting your own hair. Some transitioners start of small, snipping away half an inch or less of hair. This is totally fine. With my less-frequent trims during my first year, I never cut more than an inch of hair at a time. My post 1‑year trims were all around half an inch.
There is also the issue of the mini-chop. There are many transitioners who grow impatient and frustrated with their hair, and in an effort to rid themselves of more damage, they chop three or more inches of hair. While this can be incredibly beneficial, I do not advocate doing self mini-chops for a number of reasons. One, it is incredibly difficult to mini-chop accurately — meaning there is an increased likelihood that your cutting will not be consistent, and you will end up with unevenly cut hair. If it is not in your budget to seek a professional for a cut, at least have a trusted friend or family member help you out — especially at the back of the head and in the crown.
How To Cut:
Now that you’ve determined that you need a cut, and know how much to cut, there is the little matter of how to cut. Many naturals show how they trim their hair to create certain shapes and styles, and this works for them. Trimming transitioning ends is different, because more than style and shape, it is about getting rid of damage in a progressive sense. To trim your hair, you’ll need 4 things:
Ready? Let’s trim!
Of course, you can always use the search and destroy method. Whatever way you choose to trim your transitioning tresses, just be assured that you are one step closer to all natural hair!
Ladies, how did you handle trims during your transition?