Shrinkage is a sign of hair health, but if you prefer to stretch your curls and coils here are 5 ways to do that.

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Shrinkage is natural for women with textured hair, and the tighter the curl, the more shrinkage you will experience. Some only have 20% to 30% shrinkage while others can have as much as 75%! Our hair expands when wet and shrinks while drying.

The ability for our hair to shrink back to its normal state after being stretched is a sign that it is healthy, but many women dislike their shrinkage and view it as a problem. Ticianoizuora is one such reader, who posted this concern in our Curly Q&A section and we wanted to share our tips with everyone. 

Question

I have 4c hair. It's [been] 11 months. It keeps on shrinking. It shrinks so much it looks like a 2inch hair.

Answer

I totally understand your concern, as I too deal with shrinkage. Before I got my hair cut, when I wore my hair in a wash and go and did not fluff or interfere with it, by day three my bra-strap length hair would shrink to a TWA. Annoying? Yes, but it can be fixed temporarily and without heat.

I do not suggest heat as even one application of heat can cause heat damage. Highly-textured hair should not be subjected to heat too often as it can cause not only damage but dehydration as well.

Our hair may be growing longer, but for some of us the shrinkage increases as our hair grows! I want to reiterate that shrinkage is not a bad thing, but if you prefer to wear your hair stretched then here are five super easy ways to do that without damaging your hair.

1. Banding

Banding is a method of stretching your hair without trying to make it bone straight. Simply divide hair into sections and place ponytail holders from root to tip on each section. Allow your hair to air-dry and then remove the bands. If you want even straighter hair, then you can remove the ponytail holders and wrap your hair with a silk scarf tightly to help straighten the hair. This can cause a lot of tension, which can cause breakage, so do not use this method often.

I use this method to prevent shrinkage on my own hair, but I prefer to use a method with less tension. I simply place my wet hair in a low ponytail in an ouchless barrette and remove them when my hair is almost dry. I shake and go, and that keeps my hair from shrinking as much as it normally would.

2. Bantu-Knot Out

A fun style all by themselves, Bantu knots are a great way to stretch the hair without using heat. They can be created on wet or dry hair. Simply section your hair and twist them into Bantu knots, then allow them to air-dry completely. When you take them down you will have a textured look but with more stretch than your natural texture.

3. High Ponytail or Bunning

A high ponytail is a great way to stretch your hair without heat and maintains a textured look. Make sure not to fasten the ponytail too tightly or you will end up with straighter hair at the roots and a curlier texture on the ends. You can also put your hair in a low ponytail for less tension and a similar effect.

4. Roller Sets

Roller sets are a popular stretching technique among highly textured natural curlies. The bigger the roller, the more the hair will be stretched, so many use this style to achieve straighter styles. Make sure hair is properly detangled and completely wet before rolling, and if you want straight hair, just wrap your hair up in a satin scarf when it is completely dry. Mousses or setting lotions are the best styling product for this style.

5. Twist-Outs & Braid-Outs

Twist outs and braid out help stretch the hair and will still give you that textured look. Another great benefit of these styles is that the hair will be stretched when the style is old and can be styled into a new look throughout the week. For extra elongation, when you have completed your style pin your twists to the opposite side of your head. Flat-twist outs give more elongation than regular twist-outs, but all three flat, regular, and braid-outs all help stretch the hair while keeping a textured look.

 

Ready to try out rollers? Different types achieve different looks, so here's our quick guide to finding the one for you.  

Flat twists and twist-outs are not the same, here's the difference. 

In a hair rut? Follow us on Instagram for inspiration.

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Sabrina Perkins

Sabrina, founder of seriouslynatural.org and contributor to several online publications, is a freelance writer who engages her audiences on the relevance of natural hair, beauty, and style.

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