Why Does My Natural 4C Hair Shrink So Much?

Lovingkinkycurls4C Hair4 Comments

How to prevent natural hair shrinkage

Experiencing extreme shrinkage when you really want to show off your full length or a blown-out look is one of the thousand ways to get worked up. I know, I can relate! This is mostly the case for those with tighter curls, in fact, the tighter the curls the more shrinkage you will experience.

I am here to tell you that shrinkage is actually good! It means that your strands are healthy! So don’t worry about the appearance.

What is shrinkage anyway? In simple terms, shrinkage is when hair looks shorter than its actual length.

This usually occurs either when hair goes from wet to dry, wet hair appears stretched (although in curly hair, not to the maximum length), because water weighs down the curls. Shrinkage also occurs when blown out hair absorbs moisture. Usually, from what I have observed with my hair, after a blow-out, if I let my hair all out, it does shrink slowly over time.

Not only is shrinkage a sign of healthy hair, it is a sign that your hair is properly moisturized and has good elasticity. Depending on the hair type and hair porosity, curly hair can shrink up to 90% which has always been a nightmare for my girls who have not embraced shrinkage.  

Among the different hair types, 4C natural hair is the most tightly coiled. The tightness of the coils is responsible for the shrinkage, breakage, and dryness of this hair type. (if not properly taken care of)

When 4C hair is in its natural state, freshly washed, it tends not to keep moisture for a long time and remains mostly dry. Even worse when the hair is without product. This always means that defined curls are usually not evident unless products are added. Tight 4C coils also make for an extremely dense head of hair that easily becomes tangled.

Keep in mind that it is perfectly normal to experience shrinkage, it’s  a key characteristic of afro textured hair and as earlier mentioned, it is a sign that your hair is healthy and full of elasticity.  Shrinkage also shows that your hair has the ability to resist breakage.

How do I minimize 4C hair shrinkage?  

If at any one time you pull a curl and it springs back (or shrinks) back, well then, congratulation girl! You have healthy hair!  However, I know it can be annoying, so below are methods to help minimize shrinkage.

In summary here are the methods to use to minimize 4C hair shrinkage:

  1. Banding Method
  2. Style your hair in a bun
  3. Sectioning and twisting while washing
  4. Bantu knot method
  5. Blow dry your roots
  6. Give your hair a complete blow out
  7. Apply Aloe Vera gel before styling
  8. Treat the hair with moisturizers on a regular basis
  9. Sleep in a satin bonnet/scarf

1 – Banding method

Banding has got to be one of the best methods for achieving a stretched out look.

  • This method is achieved by using normal hair bands to stretch out freshly washed, damp or wet hair.
  •  Dividing the hair into sections goes a long way, followed by gently winding the ponytail holders around the section from root to tip. 
  • Leave the bands in for some time to allow the hair to stretch as it dries.  
  • Wrap the banded hair in a satin bonnet or scarf while air drying.
  • Ensure you use tangle free hair bands

Hair bands like rubber bands increase snagging and damage since the hair tends to tangle around the band area thereby damaging your hair, therefore, avoid such. It is important to note that too much use of this method can lead to breakage.

2 – Style your hair in a bun

In my view, this is easiest and fasted method to minimize shrinkage. Holding up your hair into a bun after a wash may be the best thing you ever tried in reducing hair shrinkage. This method however may not give you a super straight stretch. It is always good to keep it on for one to two hours depending on how long or thick your hair is then combs it out and see the magic.

3 – Sectioning and twisting while washing

Another somewhat easier way to solve shrinkage is to not allow your hair to shrink on wash day. Keep your hair sectioned Then take that section and wrap it around and continue to do so until it forms a knot.in several twists when you wash it. Only take out a twist when it’s time to apply shampoo, conditioner, or for rinsing. Even after the shower, only take one twist out at a time to style your mane. You’ll find your hair is less likely to shrink if you keep it in elongated twists while it’s wet or damp.

4 – Bantu knot method

Bantu Knots have always proven to be one of the most effective protective styles ever. It is usually very easy because all you need to do is take a section of hair and twist it in one direction and then take that section and wrap it around itself until it forms a knot. Once you are done, tuck the end of the hair under the knot so that it is secured.  Bantu knots work the same way as the banding method in stretching hair.

5 – Blow dry your roots

After washing your hair, allow it to dry about 85%,  blow dry the roots on medium heat. Avoid blow drying the roots straight,  do it in a way that will only just stretch your hair a little which is enough and give it a tad bit of length.   

6 – Give your hair a complete blow out

This is a method that you can only use ,if you don’t mind using heat (in moderation), and want to show off your length. This method  may give you maximum length in that it straightens your natural curl pattern temporarily. It is still a relief right curlies? Key to note is that one should always make sure that when doing a blow out, you deep condition and use a heat protectant, otherwise you are going to damage your hair instead of salvaging it from shrinkage.

7 – Apply Aloe Vera gel before styling

Using Aloe Vera gel before styling can go a long way in reducing shrinkage by a huge percentage. Aloe Vera is loaded with hydration, enzymes, and amino acids which are the building blocks for healthy, strong hair. The gel has smoothing properties and will help to reduce shrinkage when you apply it before using your styling products. Aloe vera is one of the only substances on the planet that you could use instead of water. In fact, some hair care brands opt to include aloe instead of water, resulting in a high-performance product. The hydration from aloe penetrates the hair shaft like water does. Aloe vera helps to smoothen and elongate the curls, making them appear longer.

8 – Treat the hair with moisturizers on a regular basis

Natural oil, such as Shea Butter or Avocado oil help the hair to retain moisture  by  locking in the moisture, thereby giving the hair a more defined curl pattern, which will keep your Afro from shrinking.

9 – Sleep in a satin bonnet/scarf

Covering your hair at night with a satin bonnet/scarf will protect your hair from clumping together and shrinking at the same time. In your daily 4C hair care routine spray on a leave-in conditioner and fluff the Afro out, using your hands coated in coconut oil. This keeps the hair well-moisturized and gives it a healthy sheen. Oh my! Trust me the results will be wonderful.

As always, I hope you found this useful.

Loving Kinky Curls.

extreme natural hair shrinkage

4 Comments on “Why Does My Natural 4C Hair Shrink So Much?”

    1. Hi Tracy – please check the Recommended Products page where I have detailed key products that I find to work well for my natural hair ? Please also feel free to send me an email via the contact us form if this does not answer your question, I will get back to you with alot more detail.

    1. Hi Shonnelle, shrinkage can really work most of us up. Have you tried the techniques I have shared in the post? Is there any that keeps your hair stretched longer?

      It is very normal for your hair to curl back up even after stretching, the only natural way to deal with it is to safely stretch it again , i.e don’t overuse techniques such as blow-drying. Otherwise the best thing I can tell you is to let your hair be and learn to work with the shrinkage.

      Like I said in the post, shrinkage is a key characteristic of kinky/coily hair and best thing you can do is to first embrace it before you even think of ways to ‘minimise’ it that way, you will learn to work with your hair even when shrunken and still achieve a very good-looking up-do.

      The techniques in this post may not achieve a perfect, bone straight look but at least they will significantly reduce the shrinkage.

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