5 Ways to Combat Natural Hair Shrinkage

11 Comments
December 8, 2011 ‐ By Dolapo Roberts

Image courtesy of Cassidy Blackwell of naturalselectionblog.com

Hair shrinkage is part of the package you sign up for when you decide to go natural. 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. If you’ve been struggling with stretching your shrunken hair, here are some tips that may help:

Braids/Twists

This is the most common method out there. Braiding or twisting you hair in sections after you wash and condition will ensure less shrinkage and give you a nicely defined hairstyle when you take them out. For more stretch, try clipping down the top (roots) of your twisted/braided sections with double prong clips.

Sets

Rollers, flexi rods, and strawller 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.

Banding

This is a very effective and simple way to prevent shrinkage. All you have to do is section your hair into parts depending on your hair’s thickness and wrap as many ponytail holders as you can fit around each section as shown here. Once your hair is dry, remove the bands and style!

African Threading

My African sisters will feel me on this one. This is probably the closest you will get to blow-dried results without using a blow dryer, and I think banding borrows from this method.  African hair threading is not only an amazing protective style that you can wear under wigs, but it also stretches your hair so well and you can leave it in for a week or longer. The threads used vary from cotton to a stretchy rubber texture and you can find them at most African shops/markets; they come in bundles like this. Here is an example of fully threaded hair and this one shows threading spaced out.

Blow Drying

Heat is definitely not the most preferred technique for women who don’t want to damage their curl pattern, but if you choose to go this route try not to have the blow dryer directly up against your hair. You can have someone else hold the dryer over a section while you comb it. As always, use a heat protectant first.

What methods do you use to prevent shrinkage?

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  • Amma

    I am West-African and when I was little my Mom always threaded my hair! It does make it soft and fluffy and loose and prevents and helps eliminate shrinking.

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  • Daraling

    I like the methods outlined here but I must say, I find threading to be much too painful. Growing up, I used to thread my hair and it really traumatised my scalp. I always ended up with tiny (pimple-like) bumps around my temples and the nape of my neck and after a couple of days, the bumps will be filled with pus and….it was awful. Now that i’m grown, I realise that hair doesn’t have to be as painful as I was made to endure as a child but i’m still sceptical about the threading business

    • http://www.fadzayi.wordpress.com/ According to Fadzi

       I experienced that as a child too! but now that I am older and I do my hair myself I know how to be gentle and threading can be done in a way that does not traumatise as we have been traumatised

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ash-Iman/663018948 Ash Iman

    I’d like to know more about the African Threading. I’ve never heard of that. 

    • dddooonnnttt

      Yea an article devoted to that would be helpful.

    • Xyzebra

      I’ve been curious about African threading for years! I’ve seen it done at hair braiding salons but it is kept very hush-hush; customers tie a scarf back over their heads before leaving. This style needs to see the sunlight! It is beautiful and makes the hair soft, loose and fluffy. I want to learn more about the technique.

    • http://www.fadzayi.wordpress.com/ According to Fadzi

      African Hair threading what I use to stretch my hair as I do not use any heat.  It is actually very easy to do and if you search You Tube you will find some examples of how its done.  Its just a really old school African way of styling hair that people find unattractive but it is really great for your hair. 

  • http://twitter.com/HomeGirlBlog Raquel

    Bantu knots at night keep my curly fro huge. I use pure shea butter to keep it soft and shiny.  

  • L-Boogie

    A major problem with my hair.  I press it out people think I have a weave.  Go figure!