When you mention “shrinkage” to a group of women with textured hair, you’re bound to get feedback ranging from eye rolls to moans of frustration! Shrinkage certainly has a bad rep among the natural hair crew, but should you really be that mad at it? Let’s discuss!
Why Does Textured Hair Shrink?
In its naturally curly state, your hair will appear shorter than it actually is when it’s stretched out… that’s just the nature of textured hair! Basically, curly/kinky hair just wants to stay the way it is. It will do pretty much whatever you want with the help of styling products and hair tools, but no matter how much you stretch it or manipulate it to help you show off more of your actual length. Over time, the moisture in the air will cause the hair to revert it to its natural state, and this is what makes us “lose” some of that length.
Why Is Hair Shrinkage Such an Issue?
Many of us who have returned to our natural hair texture began with a “big chop”. We cut off all the chemically relaxed hair to reveal our beautiful curls and coils, but we also had to get used to much shorter hair. The journey soon becomes all about growing our hair out as quickly as possible! When you’ve finally achieved what you feel to be a decent amount of length, the last thing you want is for your hair to shrivel up on you. We get it! You worked hard to take care of your hair, and you wanna show it off!
Naturally, the tighter the curl, the more shrinkage you will experience, and the shorter your hair will appear. So it’s no wonder that shrinkage is such an issue mostly among the kinky- and coily-haired ladies. But contrary to the general hatred shrinkage has been getting for years, it’s actually more of a blessing than a curse!
The Truth About Hair Shrinkage
Shrinkage is a natural and beautiful trait unique to textured hair. The fact that it can be shoulder length one day, then cropped up to our ears the next is simply amazing! But aside from the fun and aesthetics of our kinky manes, shrinkage – believe it or not – means that your hair is healthy.
Consider this example: before you straighten or blow dry your hair, you (hopefully) reach for a heat protectant like Mielle Organics’ Mongongo Oil Thermal & Heat Protectant Spray. Why? Because when wash day comes, you want to make sure your curls come back! If your hair didn’t curl, contract, and shrink back to its natural state, you’d have a problem on your hands.
Aside from heat damage, the lack of shrinkage or loss of elasticity in your hair could also mean that it’s lacking protein. If you find that your strands aren’t snapping back the way they used to, we suggest trying our Babassu Oil & Mint Deep Conditioner, which infuses both moisture and strength back into your hair. Read our blog, 5 Signs Your Hair is in Need of Protein, for more information!
What it all boils down to is this: shrinkage equals healthy hair. So be happy that it’s happening, sis!
Ways to Prevent Shrinkage
Choose the Right Hair Products
Shrinkage is going to happen, there’s no getting around that! But we understand. Shrinkage is definitely not your friend when you’ve spent hours on a bomb twist-out or some other stretched look. One thing you should keep in mind when trying to avoid shrinkage is that products heavy in humectants like glycerin have a high chance of bringing back the curls because they attract moisture to the hair. Instead, you can try applying a gel to your wash-and-go styles or twist sets to not only give you definition, but also keep the hair in place.
Safely Harness Heat
Blow drying is a popular go-to solution for showing off more length since you get the stretch without a long drying time. As we mentioned, you should always use a heat protectant to help prevent any damage. Layering an oil on top for extra protection – like Mielle’s Mint Almond Oil – won’t hurt. But if you’re not into heat, check out our blog on three ways to safely stretch natural hair without direct heat!
Our advice? Instead of trying so hard to fight shrinkage, look for ways to work with it. Hair that shrinks usually means healthy hair. If you do decide to stretch it out, take precautionary measures and use great products to keep it that way!
Does hair shrinkage bother you? What methods do you use to counteract shrinkage? Let us know, and tell us what Mielle Organics hair products you use to get the job done!
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Now that summer has officially come to a close, it’s time to talk about sun-damaged hair and how to restore it. After all, your hair has helped you look fly all summer, despite all of the poolside relaxation, vacations, and outdoor activities.
Heat styling can alter the structure of the proteins in the hair, which results in loss of curl integrity and cuticle damage. To restore those proteins in the hair, you will likely need a reconstructing treatment.