Shrinkage is the decrease in length you experience when your hair is dry. It’s perfectly normal, and a sign of your hairs elasticity and health. It is common to all hair types, although it is more aggressive in some hair types than others (4c! :(). Growing your natural hair long is something to be proud of, and it kind of beats the point if you can only see your achievement in the shower. So if you suffer from excessive shrinkage, or you just want to learn new ways to show off your mane, here are a few useful tips to help you combat shrinkage in your natural hair daily.
- Adding glycerin to your spray bottle
Shrinkage goes hand in hand with dry hair. Glycerin is a humecant, which means it helps to draw water from the atmosphere into your hair. This keep your hair superbly moisturized without you having to do so much. A good mix of glycerin, water and olive oil (and/or any essential oil of your choice) in a spray bottle can help a great deal. It’s also best to spritz this mixture on your hair as the last “product” you apply before going out. NB: It’s always better to be light handed with glycerin and always dilute it.
- Invest in a good leave in conditioner
If you’re using a conditioner and it’s just not doing the trick for you, or you have to use the whole bottle before it shows results, then cut it out. Your hair is not “trying to get used to it”, that particular conditioner doesn’t work as well for you as it probably does for others. Try out new conditioner from the store or source for recommendations. If you’re determined to combat your natural hair shrinkage, you’re going to have to put in the effort.
- Add volume with water
Some people have hair that looks all stretched out in the morning before leaving home and shrinks down before noon. This is usually the case with my own hair. It’s due to the fact that as hair loses moisture to the atmosphere and it shrink and toughens up. I’ve found that carrying a small spray bottle containing just water (or water and an oil if you’d like) around with me, and giving my hair a few spritzes once or twice during the day helps keep this problem at bay.
- Wearing cornrows or twists to bed
It’s annoying and even stressful, but it’s definitely going to be worth it when you get up in the morning. The cornrows or twists do not have to be beautiful or even neat, you could even do with just two to four of either style. When you’re finished tuck your hair safely into your satin bonnet or scarf before going to bed. When you get up by morning, take down the style and detangle with a leave-in, water, and oil. Your hair should be all stretched out. Some people do prefer to do single braids. Though these are harder to unravel in the morning, it all boils down to personal preferences.
- African threading
This really helps to stretch your hair out. African threading is harder to get done, but easier to unravel than cornrows, single braids, or twists. Since this method is a little more involved it is advisable to leave them in for more than a day (a week is fine). If you find that you don’t like the look, you can make yours into smaller sizes, weave them into cornrows and wear a wig. Over time your shrinkage should reduce considerably. Just always remember that with this choice, consistency is key.
- Blow dry your roots
A good way to stretch your hair without putting too much strain on it is to blow dry your roots on medium to low heat. You need to section your hair, hold up a section and blow at the roots for a few seconds. This is a really quick fix and can be a saving grace on days when you just don’t know what to do with your hair.
- Stretching your hair
Before you close your browser because you’re scared of heat damage, remember that it is excessive heat that damages hair. Moderate, irregularly applied heat is not a threat. If you find yourself in a fix and you need to do a quick hairstyle (like a high puff or a low bun) but your shrinkage just won’t let you be great (lol), you can try stretching your hair after putting on a heat protectant. This protective barrier can be a spray, cream, or an oil, and they don’t always need to be store-bought. Certain oils are natural heat protectants; examples include argan oil, coconut oil, Shea butter etc. Always endeavor to use a protectant even when using your flat iron on its minimum setting. Also, here are some tips to help you avoid heat damage even when you use heat regularly.
The steps you take to combat natural hair shrinkage don’t have to be such a chore. You can easily incorporate these steps into your daily routine without moving too much around to accommodate them.
How do you deal with your natural hair shrinkage on a daily basis? Feel free to share in the comments!
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