In my last blog, Are You Ready for The Big Chop, I discussed the title as a way of transitioning into your natural hair journey. Once you’ve gone natural, you’ll soon discover or reacquaint yourself with the term Natural Hair Shrinkage. This term refers to hair appearing to have shrunk but not in actual length as the length is maintained when the hair stretched out. Shrinkage happens when hair goes from wet to dry and this is inevitable with kinky, curly or coily hair. The tighter the curls or coils, the higher the shrinkage, which can be up to 90%. This phenomenon is the main characteristic of kinky and curly hair.
As much as natural hair shrinkage is often loathed, it is actually completely normal and a sign of healthy hair. It shows that your hair is well moisturized and has high elasticity. Once you’ve decided to go natural, this is the best time to find a way of seeing your natural hair shrinkage not only as a challenge but to rather understand it, accept it and learn to love your hair in its natural state.
Part of wearing your hair natural is understanding that you have got to love your hair, just the way it is, curls, coils, shrinkage, and all. Sometimes that might be easier said than done, but just remember that natural hair shrinkage is inevitable.
It all starts with self-acceptance. Accepting your own hair and not trying to make it someone else’s natural hair. Often, that person’s hair density or curl pattern may be completely different from yours. Secondly, the aim of your natural hair journey is to get to know your curly hair. Learn what routines work best for you and what products work best for your specific hair. You will facilitate this journey by doing everything necessary to keep your natural hair beautiful. This includes accepting all characteristics of your curls, including shrinkage.
If your natural hair shrinkage really bothers you, your best option may be to blow out your hair. But, excessive heat can weaken and do more harm to your hair. If you still insist, then ensure that your hair is protected by using a good conditioner as well as a heat protectant before blow drying it. Also, ensure that you set the hair dryer on low heat or cool temperature. But even so, be careful not to make this a habit as your hair may start breaking.