Hair Shrinkage- Why Does It Happen and How to Manage It?
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Natural Hair Shrinkage

Embracing the shrinkage of natural hair is one of the most important challenges to take when you’re going the natural hair route. Any African-American woman that decided to go natural knows that hair shrinkage is real and it’s better to accepting it than to fight it.

No matter if you have fine and springy curls as your hair is 3a or 3b, or you’re dealing with some tight coils 4b, 4c or 4d, it’s better not to see natural hair shrinkage as a constant challenge. It’s better to understand why does hair shrinkage appear and how can you turn it into something good for your hair.

What is natural hair shrinkage?

Even if it’s quite self-explanatory, the natural hair shrinkage relates to your hair shrinking its volume. In case you don’t know by now, black hair may shrink up to 80% of its real length, in its natural state.

In addition, hair shrinkage isn’t only about the appearance. the good part about this phenomenon is that it means your natural hair is truly healthy.

Why does natural hair shrink?

The natural African-American hair is going to shrink simply because no heat has been applied to it, in order to straightening it. Most of the time, your natural hair is going to look a lot shorter that it truly is.

When your hair is able to shrink, it means it has a good elasticity and it’s able to take breakage. Even if the natural hair shrinkage is a tad frustrating, you should always focus on the positive: it also means it’s healthy.

Keep in mind that hair shrinkage isn’t a bad sign and you shouldn’t worry about it. Even natural hair that is well hydrated and moisturized is going to shrink. Once again, it’s important to highlight that hair shrinkage is a sign that your hair is in good condition.

Is natural hair shrinkage a bad thing?

This may be surprising to many, but the more hair shrinkage, the better for your hair.

All hair presents something we call “spring factor”. This “spring factor” is going to inform you if your hair gets enough moisture, especially if it’s 3b or 4c hair.

Truth be told, shrinkage isn’t very popular out there and you shouldn’t make a drama out of it. Not only that your hair is healthy, but it also presents high elasticity, as it’s perfectly able to come back to its natural state when it’s wet.

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If you’re still not going with the beauty of shrunk hair, you can try one of the solutions out there that are going to elongate your hair. either way, enjoy the beauty of your hair to the fullest!

How to handle hair shrinkage?

If you’re trying to manage the hair shrinkage in style, here are some solutions for you to try. As long as you’re patient and dedicated, you should be able to get better results in no time:

  • Banding

Banding is one of the techniques that you can use for bringing the hair shrinkage under control. Banding is all about using hair ties to stretch your hair in a gentle way.

Watch this tutorial: How To Banding Natural Hair!

Here are the steps to take:

  • Shampoo, condition and follow your typical hair care routine
  • Your hair has to be damp. Take a 2×2 inch of hair (you shouldn’t stress out about perfect parting), braiding it or twisting every section. Go from the roots all the way to the ends.
  • Begin at the top of one braid, twisting or wrapping a hair tie around the root. As you work your hair down towards the end, you’re going to need more hair ties.
  • Let your hair dry completely and remove the hair ties only afterwards.
  • Separate gently and fluff the hair strands.
  • Twisting/braiding

Creating the perfect braid or twist out is one of the skills that any naturalist is going to flaunt. This hair style is really popular as it doesn’t just provide better curl definition, but it’s also a very efficient way to reduce shrinkage and add more length to your curls.

It’s not that difficult to create braids/twist-outs:

  • Shampoo, condition and go with your standard hair care regimen
  • Part your hair into 2×2 inch sections. You should twist or braid every single section, going from the roots all the way up to the ends.
  • Let your hair dry entirely and remove the braids/twists once your hair is dry. The curls are going to have better definition and the hair is going to appear longer too.
  • Use the heat

You can blow dry your hair. even if it’s quite tempting, you may already know by now that consistent heat from flat ironing and blow drying the African-American hair is going to damage the hair in time. If you’re determined to get more hair length, you can try a blow out any now and then. As long as you’re using a deep conditioner and a good heat protectant, you shouldn’t worry about damaging your hair.

  • Bantu Knots

If there’s one thing to really like about the Bantu Knots is the comfort they give. In addition, they also look very cute and are going to give more length to your hair. get a wide tooth comb and several hairpins for better results.

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Bantu Knots CoiffreIt’s not difficult at all to do it right:

  • Part your hair into smaller sections and work each section at a time.
  • Twist your hair in one direction.
  • Wrap the hair around until you obtained a knot, securing it with a bobby pin.
  • You can do it on all hair.
  • The high bun

This method isn’t just easy to do, but also gives a pretty result. Your hair should be damp.

  • Place a ponytail holder around your hair so that you can create the bun
  • The bun has to be tight enough to stretch the hair, yet loose enough not to cause any creases.
  • Use bobby pins for securing the bun.
  • Keep the hair in a bun for at least 2 hours.

Hair Shrinkage Vs The High BunEven if the hair bun isn’t going to give you the best length, its results are still going to be impressive. Your hair’s texture has a lot to say too, so don’t be surprised if you’re going to get different results from your friend.

  • Flexi-rod sets

if you have natural hair and you haven’t been trying flexi-rods until now, you should try it asap, especially if you’re going for curls that last one week.

You should wrap your wet hair around the entire length of the rod as the tension is going to sustain the elongation of your curls, reducing shrinkage of your hair.

Let’s go over the steps you need to take:

  • Shampoo and condition your hair. moisturize your hair with a good leave-in conditioner.
  • Part your damp hair into neat 2×2 inch section. The parting size relates a lot to the size of the rods.
  • You need to use a styling foam for this technique. Get only a bit of it and work it through the sectioned hair.
  • Place the tip of your flexi-rod at the root, securely wrapping the hair around the top.
  • Keep on wrapping the strand around the rod until you get to the opposite end.
  • As the strand is entirely wrapped, bend the rod to secure the ends of the strands. You need to make sure that your hair doesn’t unravel.
  • Keep on going until you’re done.
  • Allow your hair to completely dry. Take the rods out of your hair nice and easy, un-bending each rod at the ends, separating from your hair.
  • Don’t forget to separate and fluff your hair as much as you want.

Flexi-Rod SetsThe final tips

you should wear your hair shrunken any now and then. When you’re not manipulating much your hair, you may actually boost the hair growth. embracing shrinkage is actually going to reduce the risk for damage.

Low manipulation hair styles and wearing the shrunken hair is going to maintain your hair healthy, more than anything else.

Post originally published on Essence.com