Okay, I am going to start by letting you all know, shrinkage is a normal and good thing. Although it hides our hair’s true length, shrinkage is one of the best indicators of textured hair health. Natural hair that is properly hydrated and moisturised will shrink. Shrinkage is also a sign of your hair’s elasticity and its resistance to breakage. Shrinkage is an indicator that your hair is healthy, hydrated and happy but even though your hair is happy, it can really frustrate the owner. For those who may have a much looser wavy curl pattern or just aren’t familiar to the concept of shrinkage, let me explain. Shrinkage is a decrease in length when hair goes from wet to dry.
While hair is wet, it is weighed down so the curls stretch and fall to their maximum length. For me this is frustrating. Long hair has always been my number one hair goal but since I started my hair journey; quit straightening my hair and started following the essentials of the Curly Girl Method my curl pattern has gone from loose wavy curls to much tighter thick curls as you can see below. Before when my hair was straight, it would sit at about the place just below my shoulders as it does now curly. But when my hair is stretched now, it reaches down to my waist. However curly my hair shrinks up so short it doesn’t look like its grown at all in my eyes. Nevertheless, I am so happy my hair is so strong and healthy now.
Although I don’t do it all of the time, I know how to stretch the hell out of my hair to get it looking long. So here are my three top ways to fight shrinkage.
METHOD ONE – TWISTS
Twisting my hair is one of my favourite ways to reduce shrinkage. To do thins I split my
hair into 4 sections, spritz with water and apply a leave-in conditioner or serum and then finger detangle. I then twist each section gently pulling the hair so that it stretches the hair out to its full length. The twists stop it from jumping all the way back up and once the twists are dry, I untwist them resulting in beautifully defined stretched curls. I then split the curls into individual strands so they aren’t stuck together anymore. The reason I love this method is that it’s a really simple protective style that doesn’t really require any skill. It is simply twisting two strands of hair together but it has such a beautiful result. While my hair doesn’t come down to my waist it is still a lot longer than if I just left it to dry out and shrink up. This style can alternatively be done with plaits instead of twists, I alternate between the two but I prefer the way my curls look after twists rather than plaits.
METHOD TWO – BLOW OUT
I personally don’t do this style because I don’t use heat on my hair but it is a very simple and effective way to stretch out your curls and fight shrinkage. What you basically do is you use a blowdryer with the comb nozzle attached to stretch your hair directly from the roots. This will definitely disrupt your curl pattern but does work with making your hair longer. Alternatively, you could just use an afro comb. For my curly photoshoot pictured above, I used an afro comb and a spray bottle to stop my roots from sticking to my scalp and to just pull my hair downwards. This, however, is only a short-term solution that will only last for as long as your hair is damp and any change in weather or wind will cause your hair to shrink right back up but if you are just trying to stunt for a picture this is great because it works immediately.
METHOD THREE – BANDING
I haven’t done this style since I was a child but my mum used to always do this to my hair overnight growing up. To do this style you simply detangle your damp hair with leave-in conditioner like with the twists in method one and take the individual sections and tie it up with a million hair bands. This works much better with a comb and a wooden bristle brush. You wrap a hair band around the root and work your way down with more hair bands until you reach the end leaving a small space (maybe a cm or 2cm between each band). Again whilst doing this method make sure you really stretch your hair out so that it is as long as possible. I feel that this is the most effective style but I am less keen on how my curls after this method because I always feel they look squished rather than bouncy (however the bounce and elasticity I like in curls is the cause of shrinkage so it shows it really is working).
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– Paris x