How to work with shrinkage of natural hair


Hi Beauty!

When I first transitioned to natural hair the one thing that was astounding to me was the fact that when I washed my hair it would literally shrink to about 50% of its original length. This is what is known as shrinkage. 

Shrinkage can either be something that you embrace or try to combat. In my case I believe in a little bit of both. In the early stages of my natural journey I would combat shrinkage heavily by doing braid outs. This is a technique that many naturals use to stretch the hair follicles so that they appear to be longer. Once you braid hair wet and then completely dry (my favorite way is using a hooded dryer) you will have the finished and polished look of stretched out curls! 

Something that I’ve been doing more recently to achieve longer and bigger curls is by flat twisting my hair while wet and then use a blow dryer to stretch my roots. Flat twisting is basically twisting the hair in sections closely to the scalp (similar to cornrows.) Once flat twists are complete I sit under a hooded dryer for about an hour or until hair is completely dry. 

Upon drying hair I take out my flat twists and separate hair into smaller pieces (to add definition.) I then flip hair upside down and shake from side to side. Once curls fall into a natural pattern I take my hand held blow dryer and grab large sections of my hair and blow dry my roots while firmly holding the ends of my hair. (Full tutorial on this process in the near future.) 

This process creates huge Joan hair (Tracee Ellis Ross) as I like to call it. It gives your curls the extra bounce and fluffiness that it needs. Not to mention that hair appears fuller, longer and truer to actual length! Try this technique out and let me know how it works for you. 

Flat twist out

As far as embracing your shrinkage there are tons of beautiful natural hair styles and updo’s that will give you the look you’re looking for. Since moving to NYC, I have been busier than normal and balancing everything is still new to me. So, most of the time I have to do a wash and go as opposed to stretching my coils. My staple hair style I use to embrace my shrinkage is sweeping all of my hair into a banana clip and brushing the ends with a denman brush to enhance my curls. This style is quick, chic and sophisticated and perfect for the summer months! 

Wash and go in banana clip

What do you think about shrinkage? How do you deal with it? Let me know! 


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  1. Anonymous
    September 4, 2011 / 5:40 pm

    I hate it until I until I came upon this …thanks

  2. Anonymous
    March 16, 2012 / 12:23 pm

    I was trying to keep all heat out of my hair… but when going somewhere special I will try

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