Just about every natural has dealt with the dreaded issue of hair shrinkage…it’s almost impossible to avoid. The simple fact is that shrinkage is part of the natural hair journey, so you should know how to work with your curls, not against them. Here are a few tips to help you combat shrinkage with your natural hair.

Let’s see the length you’ve been working so hard for!

Stretch Your Curls!

There are several ways you can achieve a stretched look with your curls. At the time you are cleansing and conditioning your hair you can take a few steps to elongate your curls and display your length. Try one of these options to style your hair and lessen your shrinkage.

Braid Outs/Twist Outs

Braid outs and twist outs work wonders to stretch your curls, and make fabulous styles too! The beauty in a braid or twist out is that the longer you wear them, generally the more your hair will “grow,” usually both in width and length. The curls will usually start to fall and become fuller as the days go on.

Whether you do smaller or larger braids or twists, you can get the most length out of these styles by pinning them to the opposite side of your head. The hair on the left you’ll stretch and secure with bobby pins on the right side of your head, and you’ll do the same on the left. This tension helps your curls to retain the length while the hair is stretched, so the coils won’t be able to shrink as easily.

Roller Sets

Want a way to create sleek, soft curls without heat? Roller sets are best done on damp hair to keep the cuticle smooth. To create a frizz free style, detangle the pieces you are going to roll and add a foam or mousse product. Jane Carter Solution Wrap & Roll is an excellent choice to smooth the hair and without leaving a sticky residue. If you can, allow your hair to air dry completely before removing the rollers. From here you can pull your curls apart and rock this looser curly style!

Tension Method

Half finished tension method.

If you’re not afraid of using a bit of heat then this may be a great option to stretch your curls. I recently tried this blow drying method after watching a video of KinkyKurlyQueen on YouTube and was so inspired! Make sure your hair is damp, not soaking wet, because it will take forever for your hair to dry. The less time you’re directing the heat at your hair the better. Also, make sure you use a leave in product AND a heat protectant. Try a natural heat protectant that’s both light and adds shine like grapeseed oil or Carol’s Daughter Macadamia Heat Protection Gloss.

Working in small/medium sections, turn your blow dryer setting to a medium temperature and keep the nozzle a few inches away from your hair. Once you feel your hair is dry, carefully pass a wide tooth comb through the section, clip it, then you’re ready for the next piece! Once you’re done, you’ll have a big blowout to play with!


These neat styling tools have been making waves across the curly hair boards and forums and with good reason. Although they can be expensive and have a bit of a learning curve, these flexible mesh curlers can be an excellent way to stretch even tighter coils.

CurlFormers are to be used on wet, well detangled hair only! Add a bit of mousse or gel to each section before putting your hair through the tool. If you choose to use these as a method to stretch your hair, make sure you follow the directions and don’t use too much hair or you could end up snagging your strands when pulling your hair through the CurlFormers. Let your hair completely dry before removing and you’ll be left with light, bouncy and stretched curls!


Probably the easiest method to stretching your hair, this can be done on wet or dry hair. If you want to stretch your hair using this method, make sure your hair is moisturized with a good leave-in product, and don’t neglect your ends! If your hair is wet you may want to use a small amount of butter or pomade to keep your edges smooth. If you hair is longer, try twisting the loose hair in three to four twists to give you looser curls once your hair is dry.

Welcome the Shrinkage

Sometimes it’s fun to just embrace hair shrinkage rather than fight it. Try a wash and go style to show off your springy coils!  In small sections, rake a bit of product like Jane Carter Solution Curl Defining Cream through your hair to give it body and definition. You can even rock a pouf or a fro-hawk using bobby pins or hair combs. Accessorize your curls by adding a cute headband or bold hair clip. Shrinkage is something we all have to deal with, but with the right style you can confidently sport your curls in a myriad of ways.

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Final Thoughts

We know our hair may shrink to half its length or shorter, but having multiple styling options is what makes natural hair truly beautiful. You can rock your springy coils or stretch them to reveal your true length. No matter which way you decide to wear your hair, remember moisture is key if you want your hair to look its best. Happy styling!

How do you stretch your hair?

I came by it by accident really, but what I've been doing to stretch is this: after applying product to a section (like 8 or 9, I have a lot of hair) I twist at the root once, then clip it close to my scalp. This begins the stretching and allows for quicker drying as well. After letting it air dry as long as possible, I blow dry with an attachment at the roots only. This not only adds to the stretching but lightens the heaviness and loosens the bulk. Like I said, I have a lot of hair. This will be my routine for a while, at least through the winter months.