Accepting natural hair shrinkage is one of the greatest challenges when you are embarking on a natural hair journey. For African-American women who have decided to take the plunge and wear their hair natural, hair shrinkage can be considered a surprise that can be embraced or a hassle that needs to be conquered.
However, whether you have got fine springy curls associated with 3a or 3b hair, or tight coils belonging to those with 4b, 4c, or 4d, it is time to find a way not to view your natural hair shrinkage as a challenge. Instead, let’s work to understand why our natural hair shrinks, and how we can love our hair in its natural state.
What Does Natural Hair Shrinkage Mean?
Natural hair shrinkage means your hair has shrunk in its appearance. It is well known that black hair in its natural state can shrink up to 80 percent of its actual length.
However, natural hair shrinkage is not just about appearance. Lots of hair shrinkage means you have got some healthy hair on your head!
Why does Natural Hair Have Shrinkage?
Your natural hair will shrink because no heat has been applied to it to make it straight. In its natural state, it will appear at times, much shorter than it is in reality.
However, this should not be considered alarming. Here’s why: natural hair that has lots of moisture and hydration will shrink.
This is, therefore a sign that your hair is healthy.
Is Natural Hair Shrinkage Bad?
Not at all. As a matter of fact, the more hair shrinkage, the better.
Everyone’s hair has what is called a “spring factor.” Moreover, your “spring factor” will let you know if you are getting enough moisture supplied to your 3b curls or 4c coils.
Your hair’s ability to shrink is also an indication of its elasticity and ability to resist breakage. Therefore, even though natural hair shrinkage can sometimes be frustrating, it is important that we remember it is a sign that we have got healthy hair.
Controlling Natural Hair Shrinkage
Even though shrinkage is a grave sign of your hair’s health, we have got some methods to control shrinkage.
- Banding. You will need a few tangle free ponytail holders, a wide tooth comb, and a satin bonnet or scarf. After you have washed your hair, section chunks of your hair. Gently band a ponytail holder around each section from the root to the ends. Leave these holders in place as the hair dries. Don’t forget to use your satin bonnet or scarf. This will help lock in moisture and eliminate frizzies.
- Blow Dry Your Roots. This method works well for women with springy curls associated e with 3a, 3b, or 3c hair textures. You will need a hair dryer and a diffuser applicator as well. After washing your hair, let it air dry by at least 85 percent. Then gently tug on sections of your hair and blow dry the roots on a cool to medium setting. Remember the key to this method is to stretch out and lengthen your hair, not straighten your hair.
- Blow Dry Your Hair Completely. Many African-American women with natural hair know that consistent heat associated with flat ironing and blow drying will damage your hair over time. However, if you are ready to show off your hair’s length, why not go for a blowout? Just make sure to use a deep conditioner and heat protectant before beginning this process!
- High Bun. This is such a cute way to elongate your hair. After slightly dampening your hair, place a ponytail holder around it to create a bun. You want the bun to be tight enough to stretch your hair, but loose enough so that no creases are formed. Remember, the outcome of this style depends on your hair texture—if you have got 4b coils, it will not look the same as 3d curls. However, it will be just as gorgeous!
- Bantu Knots. Like the high bun, Bantu knots are super comfortable, cute, and will elongate your hair. You will need hairpins and a wide tooth comb handy for this style to work well. You will section a bit of your hair at a time and twist in one direction. You will wrap it around until a knot is formed. Then, secure with a bobby pin. You can do this for your entire head.
- Roller sets, flexi rods, and straw sets. These are all great ways to stretch out your coils. You can use any of these methods with heat or without. The choice is yours!
Embracing Natural Hair Shrinkage
Let’s face it: if you are going to be wearing your hair natural, hair shrinkage is part of the course. It is not something you had to deal with on a daily basis if you were relaxing your hair; but now that you have transitioned your hair to natural, it is time to embrace the idea of shrinkage.
Part of wearing your hair natural understands that you have got to love your hair, just the way it is–curls, coils, shrinkage, and all. Sometimes that might be an easier said than done, but just remember that natural hair shrinkage is inevitable.
If you wear your hair natural, it is going to shrink. It is inevitable.
If you wash your natural hair, it is going to shrink. It is inevitable.
If it is a hot day and the humidity is high, you will experience natural hair shrinkage. It is—you guessed it—inevitable.
Therefore, the best way you can deal with your natural hair shrinkage is not to view it as a problem, but as a sign that you have got a healthy head of hair.
How to Dry Natural Hair without Shrinkage
Many women with natural hair do not like to use heating tools such as blow dryers, over time it can lead to lots of heat damage. However, many rely on blow dryers on a low and cool setting because it is the best way to dry natural hair without the presence of shrinkage.
However, there are other ways to dry your natural hair without having to deal with the pain of shrinkage. If you are ready to let go of your natural hair shrinkage issues, there are a few methods that will help you along the way.
You can twist your hair before washing or co-washing. Once you are finished the washing process, towel dries your hair, leaving the twists in place.
These sectioned twists will help your natural hair from drawing up and having the shrunk or shriveled up look. Another method of controlling natural hair shrinkage is to section hair after washing.
Then, place hair clips on the end of each section of hair. Using a hair diffuser set on cool, dry your hair.
When you are styling your hair, do you typically do so when it is wet or dry? If you style your hair while it is wet, even a little damp, this will help control shrinkage.
If you create double strand twists throughout and use a heavy cream followed by hair clips, this will contribute to stretch out your hair.
Hair Shrinkage Products
Several products on the market will assist curly queens with natural hair combat hair shrinkage. The best anti-shrinkage products will contain ingredients such as flaxseed, bamboo milk, shea butter and mango butter.
All these products promote shiny hair and help eliminate unwanted frizz. For African-American women with coils falling into the 4b/4c/4d category, Dark and Lovely Au Naturale Anti-Shrinkage Coil Moisturizing Souffle might be a right choice.
As a curl definer, this hair product includes ingredients like mango and bamboo milk which are great for moisturizing the hair and elongating coils. This is also a great product to use on defined styles without leaving your hair hard and stiff.
Also, for women with 4a, 4b, 4c and 4d hair textures, Design Essentials Natural Curl Stretching Cream is perfect for adding lots of shine to your hair and definition to your curls. This product will help stretch out your curls while keeping frizzy hair at bay.
For the ladies who can rock a wash n go, Aunt Jackie’s Curls & Coils do not Shrink Flaxseed Elongating Curling Gel might be an excellent addition to your bathroom’s product rack! After washing your hair, run this product through your 3c, 3d, or 4a natural hair.
You will get a defined look and won’t lose your hair’s length.
Whether you are rocking curls or coils, it is time to embrace the shrinkage. With the help of a little self-love and some great styling tools, natural hair shrinkage will be viewed with lots of love and happiness!