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If you are a “seasoned” natural then you are familiar with that ugly “s” word —shrinkage!!! Some women’s hair shrinks a little, while others’ shrinks a lot. I have a friend whose hair shrinks up to SEVEN inches and she HATES it! I see it all the time — you spend time styling your wet hair and it eventually shrinks to a much shorter length. If you are struggling with shrinkage, keep in mind that it is normal and not always bad; it is a sign that your hair is healthy and full of elasticity. If you pull a curl and it springs back (or shrinks) back, congratulations—you have healthy hair! However, I know it can be an annoying problem, so here are a few tips to help minimize shrinkage.
1. Try Banding
Banding works by using ponytail holders to stretch out freshly washed, damp/wet hair. Divide the hair into sections and gently wind the ponytail holders around the section from root to tip. Leave the holders in to allow the hair to stretch as it dries. Allow your hair to air dry, and don’t forget to wrap it with a satin scarf or bonnet. Be sure to use the tangle free (ouch-less pony tail holders to minimize snagging and damage). Do not to use this method too often as it can lead to breakage.
2. Blow Dry Your Roots
After washing your hair, allow it to dry about 85%. Lightly tug on your hair and blow dry the roots on medium heat. Don’t blow dry them straight, just enough to stretch your hair a little and give it a tad bit of lengthy. This method is quick, easy and it works wonders!
3. Complete Blow Out
If you don’t mind using heat (in moderation), and want to show off your length, you may want to consider a blow out. This method may give you maximum length in that it straightens your natural curl pattern temporarily. Make sure that when doing a blow out, you deep condition and use a heat protectant. Also, use this method in moderation.
4. Put Your Hair in a High Bun
Another way to stretch your hair is by putting it in a high bun when it is slightly damp. Secure the bun in places with a pony tail holder. This will stretch the curls and give your hair a little more length. Try wearing the bun for an hour to an hour and a half and take it down. Make sure the bun is tight enough to pull your hair and loose enough as to avoid creases.
5. Bantu Knots
Take a section of hair and twist it in one direction. Then take that section and wrap it around and continue to do so until it forms a knot. Tuck the end of the hair under the knot so that it is secured in place. Repeat this process until your whole head is knotted. Bantu knots act in much the same way as banding .
Rollers, flexi rods, and straw sets are all methods you can use to stretch your kinks. You can air dry or sit under a hooded dryer for straighter results. Obviously this method will only work if your hair is long enough to wrap around the rods. You can also try setting your hair in the new and revolutionary CWK Straight Plates. They stretch the hair without using heat. After washing and detangling you simply apply them and let air dry. If you are feeling impatient and want to expedite the process your hooded dryer can be used but this is completely optional.
Shrinkage comes along with the natural hair journey. It is inevitable and just about every natural diva will experience it at some point during their journey. It’s also part of the versatility and beauty of natural hair—TWA(teeny weeny afro) one day and huge fro the next. Afro textured hair can shrink up to 80% of its actual length and that may be bothersome for individuals who want to wear their hair in styles that require more length.
How do you combat shrinkage?