I have a very simple question to ask naturals who do not like the idea of shrinkage:
What would you rather have: shrinkage or breakage?
With the curliest hair types come the most contracting hair textures; they stretch with some manipulation but in its natural state, it’s a curly cube. And when water is put to it, it shrinks even more because curly hair textures crave moisture.
I look at my own head of hair everyday. I do length checks. I do stretching. I do straightening (without heat). I do everything I can think of to make the true length of my hair stay. But that’s simply not the way my 4C curls are designed.
And even if you sit under heat for hours at a time to stretch it out beautifully, it will only shrink up again within a matter of weeks or days.
But there are ways to deal with shrinkage during your natural hair journey. And don’t worry; these are simple ways to embrace your shrinkage so your journey does not feel so difficult.
How To Deal With Shrinkage
Accept it. Your hair, particularly 4B and 4C types, is curly. It is not going to change. It will soak up water, oil and even beer and soda like a sponge (the beer and soda were jokes. Don’t put this in your hair!) Just accept your shrinkage and work around it. My go-to styles include 2-strand twists, twists out and flat twists. The funny thing is strangers love these natural styles more than I do!
Brush more often but GENTLY. Using a soft bristle brush while your hair is damp or very well moisturized, simply brush sections of your hair to smooth it out and see the true length of your hair. Doing this more often not only stretches your hair but it could promote growth. Again, make sure you do this GENTLY. A good discipline is to use a brush to stretch your hair right before you put 2-strand twists or braids in it.
Use mild heat or invest in hair stretching tools. On low heat, take a flat iron to sections of your hair. You can also use a hot comb for extra straightening properties. You can also try African banding, a heatless way of wrapping string or yarn around your hair to stretch it. You can also invest in the wildly popular CWK Straight Plates, small flat plates that help the hair stay stretched for long periods.
Of all these tips, it is most important that you simply appreciate your shrinkage for what it is. It is nothing more but a part of your luscious curls. Shrinkage does not represent your true length so why worry about it? Just invest in some fairly inexpensive tools and start experimenting with your shrinkage!