by Jamila of CollegeCurlies

Hey y’all. I came across this article on shrinkage, a problem that I, along with many other curlies, face with their natural hair. I love big hair, so it’s really frustrating when my mane shrivels up like a prune and does nothing for my visual aesthetic. I ranted about it in this post, and decided to research the topic further. Anyway, here are the main tips the author gives to avoid or prevent the shrinkage of your natural hair:

1. Twist or braid the hair in sections when it is wet – This is the most common technique for reducing shrinkage. The braids or twists are undone once completely dry imparting a beautiful texture on the hair or leaving it relatively ‘stretched’ out and ready for the next step of the styling process.

2. Hair treatments – There are various treatments that you can give your curls to leave them elongated when dry. The most popular of these are the dairy based ones like yogurt treatments, sour cream treatment or plain milk treatment. The common denominator in these 3 is the lactic acid that seems to stretch out the hair and some have reported up to 40% less shrinkage after using the treatments. Like anything else, this is a process of trial and error. Some people’s hair seems to respond to different treatments better than others. The fact that these are only temporary effects (lasting until the next wash), is also appealing to most as there is no damage to the hair. The caramel treatment is also worth a mention. It involves the use of molasses, honey, bananas and some vinegar blended together to a caramel consistency. This is an excellent moisturizing treatment and it also leaves the curls hanging lower even after the hair is dry.

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3. Banding – this involves sectioning hair when it is wet then tying a series of hair bands from root to tip hence the hair remains stretched as it dries. The bands are then taken down and hair is styled as usual.

4. Natural oils – Avocado butter is quite effective in stretching curly hair. When hair is twisted or braided with the butter, it will generally have much less shrinkage than without it. Shea butter is another good example.

5. Stretching and blow drying – This can be done after the hair has been styled when wet then air dried which will leave the hair shrunken. To get back some of the length, a section of hair is taken and pulled (stretched) to the desired length then a warm hair dryer is blown over the length of the hair until it remains at that length when you let it go. To avoid any possible heat damage, the hair dryer should never be on a hot setting and should not be applied too close to the hair.

Here’s another helpful article on the topic. Remember, always do your research and find what products and methods work best for you. I hope this helps! Stay fabulous.

Do you stretch your natural hair? Why? And what’s your favorite method?