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 bethatmad at it? Let’s discuss!
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. So no matter how much you stretch it or manipulate it - and it’ll pretty much do what you want with the help ofstyling products and hair tools - to help you show off more of your actual length, over time, the moisture in the air will cause the hair to contract or curl up, reverting it to its natural state. And this is what makes us “lose” some of that length.
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 why 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!
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 has a measure of health.
Consider this example: before you straighten or blow dry your hair, you (hopefully) reach for a heat protectant like ourMongongo 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/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 protein is lacking. If you find that your strands aren’t snapping back the way they used to, we suggest trying ourBabassu Oil & Mint Deep Conditioner which infuses both moisture and strength back into your hair. Read5 Signs Your Hair is in Need of Protein for more!
Shrinkage is going to happen, 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. For one thing, products heavy in humectants like glycerin have a high chance of bringing on shrinkage because they attract moisture to the hair. But you can try applying a gel to your wash n go's or twist sets to not only give you definition but to keep the hair in place.
Blow drying is a popular go-to solution for showing off more length since you get the stretch without a long drying time. As mentioned, always use a heat protectant to help prevent any damage. Layering an oil on top for extra protection — like ourMint Almond Oil — won’t hurt. But if you’re not into heat, read aboutthree safe ways to stretch natural hair without direct heat here!
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!