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.
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.
i stretch my curly hair by using the bendable twist rollers placing my hari around them in a loose spiral and then my cap! It works beautifully until about 230pm LOL!
what the sour cream treatment
I always stretch,mainly to prevent my hair from tangling rather than for length. When my hair is wet (after washing it) I put it into six sections, detangle and then put them into bantu knots until they have dried.
*dying* @ Leo the Yardie chick! such a perfect description!!
I like to use banding and twist, the plaits knot up. I see some ladies say whats the big deal about it, well everyones hair shrinks differently and sometimes can cause problems. Like for me knots and lots of them. For me length isn't a problem all the time but when you have shoulder length hair that can shrink to a 1/2 inch what I like to call my Florida fro from "good times" combimg or picking it out can be torture( I agree with you Leo the yardie Chick)I would be in tears.
@ Anon 4:57 p.m. – That is exactly why I stretch it. My hair has a twisted, incestuous love for itself and spawns litters of knots within hours. If I left it shrunken after I washed, I'd be paying for it in tears. Spent my first 11 years dealing with that every wash day – never again.
CARAMEL TREATMENT RECIPE:
Honey – 6 tablespoons
Olive Oil – 6 tablespoons
Bananas – 2-3 overripe and very soft
Molasses (Treacle) – 3 tablespoons
Water – 4-6 tablespoons
Apple Cider Vinegar – 1 tablespoon
Cornstarch – 1-2 tablespoons depending on how thick you want the mixture to be
Wheat germ oil – 1 teaspoon – This can be substituted for any other natural oil of your choice
• Place all the ingredients except for the water into a blender and process until smooth. You may need to add the water bit by bit if it looks too dry.
• To ensure that there are no bits of banana in the mixture, sieve it through a fine sieve.
• Pour the mixture into a saucepan and put it on a medium heat while stirring constantly. You don’t want to ‘cook’ the mixture but you want the cornstarch to cause it to thicken and this will take just moments. You may need to add more water to thin it down if it gets too thick or add a bit more cornstarch if it is still too runny. You want to end up with a caramel coloured mixture that is the consistency of a thick batter. If the mixture is too thin it will start dripping from your hair as soon as you apply it.
• Decant the mixture into a container, depending on the length of your hair it will likely be enough for two applications.
To apply, divide the hair into 3-4 sections and clip. Starting with 1 section, part the hair and apply on the roots generously rubbing in with your fingers. Once applied on the roots of the section, apply the mixture all the way to the ends. Complete all sections in this manner and once done, cover the hair with a plastic cap. Let the mixture sit in your hair for 1-2 hours or overnight for really dry hair.
Wash hair with a sulfate free shampoo, deep condition and style as usual. You can freeze the remainder until you are ready to use it. The treatment is suitable for both natural and relaxed hair.
I don't mind shrinkage, but the problem for me are the knots and tangles that come with it! When I detangle my hair on wash day it shrinks up and then I have to detangle all over again the next day -_- Wearing twist outs gives me more length and solves this problem.
I'm not concerned about shrinkage since I understand that it is the nature of curly hair. I accept it, embrace it and keep it moving.
I do not understand why people are so concerned about shrinkage. I do not mind it at all. Maybe it's because I've had long hair before and length is not an issue. I just don't get it.
what's the recipe for the caramel treatment?
I've been natural for years, but only sans flat ironing and really natural for 1 year. I tried everything for everything. I tried every product doing what all my youtube heros and bloggers did. Finally I realized that someone elses great product was not mine, and that routine is really what is important, along with protecting your ends. Here's how I stretch:
I use both moisturizing and protein conditioners. (please read the Science of Black Hair, for those who think this is a no-no). Listening to my heroes I believed protein was my enemy. However, when I went back to my protein conditioner, I noticed the first time that my curls were elongated. ( I use Curlistos Therapy Mask). Protein helps my hair to hang. After applying the conditioner, I I use large clips, pull my hair down, and clip. So there's clips in the back on the bottom and clips on the sides at the bottom. I usually put one above my hear to keep that area from getting puffy. For the top, if I don't want a part, I simply pull it straight back and clip near the ends. ( my clips are near the ends, not directly on them). Then I air dry. If I'm in a hurry I sit under the dryer. My curls clump because of the protein, and I either use my hands to separate the clumps or I use a blow dryer to move the hair around. Yes, my hair is a little flat the first day. But then next day it's fine, and the second day it's nice and big.
another way I stretch is to air dry without the clips. then once it's dry, I pineapple for about an hour. this stretches it fine, especially if I'm going to wear it up. If you can't pineapple (and I just have enough to get it up), you can do 2 poneytails behind the hear. The clips is great for a wash and go.
Right now, my favourite and most effective method is to plait my hair in sections while it's still wet. I do it immediately after applying my leave-in conditioner. Then I pin the plaits that have a tendency to kick up (which is pretty much most, if not all, of them) and leave to dry.
Once that's done, I style it.