I've lost track of the number of times that people recommended that I relax my hair because my hair shrinks too much. Just a few weeks ago, a hairdresser suggested that I try the keratin treatment to lessen the shrinkage.
"Your hair will be very beautiful, it will be very long and soft," she said.
You cannot imagine how many times people have told me that it's a shame how much my hair shrinks. But is shrinkage something I should really be fighting? Hell no. This is why.
What is natural hair shrinkage?
Shrinkage is the decrease in length from when your natural hair is wet to when it dries. Depending on the hair type and hair porosity, curly hair can shrink up to 90% when it dries. Not only is it completely normal, it is actually a sign of healthy hair; it shows that your hair is properly moisturized and has good elasticity. We cannot change a phenomenon that is a key characteristic feature of curly hair. Not to forget, shrinkage is the main ingredient of the uniqueness of our curly crown. To emphasize the importance of shrinkage, I want to remind all curlies that without shrinkage, our hair would not have its texture and definition. Hence, I think we should be doing our best to unlearn the perception that shrinkage is a negative trait of curly hair.
I used to hate shrinkage, but eventually I realized that not accepting shrinkage was a hurdle to getting to know my naturally curly hair.
I used to hate shrinkage, but eventually I realized that not accepting shrinkage was a hurdle to getting to know my naturally curly hair. When I finally accepted and embraced my shrinkage, I was able to make great hair care decisions. For instance, I was able to do a second big chop for the wellbeing of my hair.
Accepting our hair shrinkage
It may be difficult to accept shrinkage at first. But there are ways to facilitate the process of acceptance. It all starts with self-acceptance… accept your own hair type and do not try to set your curly hair goals based on the hair texture of your favorite blogger, celebrity and/or loved one. Often, their porosity, density, width, 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 you should avoid. You will facilitate this journey by doing what is necessary to keep your natural crown beautiful. This includes accepting all characteristics of your curls, including shrinkage.
What if you want to lessen shrinkage?
Some curlies find that stretching out their curls simply makes their lives easier by preventing tangles or matting. If you do want to lessen your shrinkage, changing some habits in your curly hair routine can save you time later in your regimen. Just to name an example, I admired curly hair influencer Sunkissalba and there was a time that I wanted to have the same hair type as her. Therefore, I started using the same hair care products as her. Little did I know that these products weren't fulfilling my curly hair needs. When I switched to different hair products that were specifically for my hair type and porosity, I immediately noticed less shrinkage. I've found that certain ingredients also decrease shrinkage, such as flaxseed, bamboo milk, shea butter and mango butter. Lastly, there are some curly hairstyles which will stretch your curls. You should always be careful since these hairstyles often come with a risk of breakage, which will lead to more frustrations.
Accepting your beautiful crown as it is is far better than continuously fighting it. You should own your unique features rather than hiding it.
How do you embrace your shrinkage? Let us know in the comments below.
This article was originally published in 2018 and has been updated for grammar and clarity.