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Shrinkage is NOT the Enemy: 4 Tips for Rocking Your Hair in its Shrunken State

Avatar • Jan 3, 2014

by Nisus of It’s Just Hair

Shrinkage is totally annoying when you know you have long hair and you can’t seem to get any hang time.  Completely frustrating when you want to have hair on your shoulders or back, or surrounding your face, but alas, your hair coils up to your ears.  I find that the warm flat iron is the answer for those times, for me.  Using the tension method with a blow dryer works well too, but takes a little longer, and seems more drying.

Either way, you end up spending more than a day getting your hair “right.”  It has to be completely dry before the stretching process.  That takes a full day for my hair!  And you also have to have a very solid shingle set before hand.  Defined, moisturized curls stretch, and stay stretched better.  I don’t always have time for that, and the stretched look is also not always what I’m going for.  It’s nice when I want a different look, or when I have plenty of time to do it, but there are other times when the shrunken shape of my hair is cute and easier to work with for certain styles.

When I want to wear my hair shrunken up, I just have to beware of tangles, and single-strand knots after the first day.  Here are some other tips for wearing fully shrunken hair for more than a day:

  • Make sure that the hair is fully de-tangled before letting it dry. I like to co-wash, detangle and put my hair in 4 sections by double strand twisting it and rinsing it with the 4 twists still in.  I then open each section one by one, apply my leave in, gel and oil and loosely re-twist.  I usually do this at night and let it partially dry over night.  This helps set the part where you want it and tell the hair what direction to dry in.
  • Keep the ends moisturized.  That means a little spritz and leave in every evening for me.
  • Protect it at night!!  I sleep on a silk pillow case (better for skin than satin) and I also either pineapple or re-set in the 4 large twists before bed.  If I used gel before letting it dry, retwistsing keeps it smoother, if not, pinappling keeps the roots a little flatter so I don’t have a round fro by day 3 🙂
  • Unlike my stretched wash and go, the shrunken version will tangle faster and more completely.  This leads to single strand knots and a heck of a time de-tangling later.  Thus I only recommend wearing loose shrunken hair for 4 or 5 days instead of 7 or longer. This tighter hair is also more difficult to manipulate into a different style later, such as a bun or updo because of the density and tangles, so be careful if you try to do so, and be patient and gentle.
  •  
    Here are some picts of my BSL hair shrunken into a bob with a side part.  I also have a headband on in these picts. It looks like I had a major haircut!  Fun to throw people off sometimes, though their curiosity can be tiring lol.

    Ladies, do you rock your hair in its shrunken state? What tips do you have for making it work?

     

    Nia (Nisus of itsjusthair.com) started this blog to share what she’s learned about caring for her natural hair for the past 12 years and to encourage others to embrace whatever texture naturally grows from their head. However, there is a cultural impact in changing ones viewpoint on something as simple as hair. How and why does one grow, love and respect a hair type so different than most, and so unique to each?

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    TWA4now
    TWA4now
    6 years ago

    One word: BEAUTIFUL!

    kb
    kb
    6 years ago

    Shrinkage isn’t your enemy because you hair is about BSL, those of us w/shorter hair, that is about 7 inches and shrinks to about 2 inches, still have to fight! Your hair is shrinking to the length my hair is blown out. LOL! I will embrace it when I have longer hair.

    BTW- you hair is beautiful

    Sonya Freeman
    Sonya Freeman
    6 years ago
    Reply to  kb

    I understand what you’re saying but for some people it would be frustrating to know that their hair is that long but shows the length of a curly bob. I think her hair looks great though. I definitely can relate to the mega shrinkage you’re talking about. I think that’s why super shrinkies do very stretched styles and avoid letting their hair shrink up.

    Ashley
    Ashley
    6 years ago
    Reply to  kb

    I know what you mean. When my hair was shorter, I couldn’t stand the shrinkage. Now that my hair is past BSL, I love the shrinkage because that’s what gives me VOLUME! Even with the shrinkage, my hair still falls below my shoulders in a wash-and-go, so it’s all good with me.

    the mane captain
    6 years ago

    those are beautiful pictures and earrings!! I never thought shrinkage was an enemy, until I started reading tips on how to “fight” shrinkage last year! I prefer stretched styles because they’re more manipulative and my hair doesn’t tangle. I wore a shrunken fro some time back and detangling was a “battle”. Though I have to say that shorter hair can get away with ANY shrunken style.
    themanecaptain.blogspot.ca

    Becky
    Becky
    6 years ago

    For me, shrinkage isn’t ‘the enemy’.…after all, one thing I love about my natural hair is that it LOOKS thick even though it really isn’t, due to shrinkage. I like that a lot. But still, I prefer to not allow my hair to shrink up ALL the way. I have that 4c goodness with extremely small, very tight coils that will easily matt up like it’s their job, if allowed to completely shrink up. The tangles, SSKs, and eventual breakage that results from that is not worth it to me. So I usually keep it stretched by braiding, banding, or mini puffs… Read more »

    Jo
    Jo
    6 years ago

    I like my hair stretched because i’m not patient with tangles and knots that come with shrunken hair.
    ^_^
    I’ll wear shrunken hair in a bantu-knot/twist out however, since it will tangle less than the wash-and-go.

    anna
    anna
    6 years ago

    I gave up fighting shrinkage.. If my hair is happy and healthy thats all that matters.

    gapch
    gapch
    6 years ago
    Reply to  anna

    If my hair is happy and healthy thats all that matters — true.…

    Jesse
    Jesse
    6 years ago

    I never allow my hair to shrink up fully because my 4c hair would be really hard to detangle afterwards. I know this for sure because I used to wear nothing but totally shrunken wash and goes for about two years. This was when I first went natural. It was all cute when my hair was short, but as it grew longer, trying to detangle 9 inches of tightly coiled springs which were compressed into 2 inches was almost impossible. I had to chop my hair again. Now I allow my hair to shrink a little but never all the… Read more »

    Emilee
    Emilee
    6 years ago

    I used to fight hard to combat shrinkage in the beginning of my journey. However, I started cutting my hair in a style that made it look better when shrunken. Now, I embrace it. I love the versatility that it gives me. I can wake up one morning and decide that I want to wear my hair “short.” All I have to do is hop in the shower. If I want to wear my hair long…I can blow dry it. I keep tangles at bay by finger tangling my hair each night when I moisturize it. My whole night hair… Read more »

    LBell
    LBell
    6 years ago
    Reply to  Emilee

    Me too…the last time I BC’d I got a tapered TWA with a difference of about 3 inches between my super-shrinky top (80%-plus) and my less-shrinky sides and back (50–60%). It grew out into a really nice wedge shape for about two years and then mathematics won out and my sides and back began to hang more, resulting in the ever-lovely ‘fro-mullet. 😉 So I no longer wear my hair completely shrunken; I stretch it in various ways. When I blow-dry, while I always use the tension method I won’t always use as much tension on my sides and back… Read more »

    Sherri
    6 years ago
    Reply to  Emilee

    Hi, Sonia..Thanks for sharing this recpie..i tried baking this cake today n the cake’s center shrink while cooling..n the bottom layer is a bit dense..Could it be due to overfolding? I beat the egg white till very stiff peak but I find tat its quite difficult to fold in because they get lumpy..should I beat the egg white till medium peak instead? Best regards,Chilliqueen..

    Dee
    Dee
    6 years ago

    I have 10 inches of 4b hair all around 4c on top and no matter how much I dentangle if my hair shrinks up its going to be a tangled messed… so either i braid it up or twist it out… I know they say embrace your shrinkage but it’s not for me with the 2 different textures

    gapch
    gapch
    6 years ago

    love the concept of this article — SHRINKAGE IS NOT THE ENEMY… i dont even like the phrase “combat shrinkage”.….

    krokan
    krokan
    6 years ago

    I definitely embrace my shrinkage in the summer time cause its so dang steamy. But it results in so many SSK and I still haven’t mastered stopping those.
    shop.kinksandall.com

    JazzWife
    6 years ago

    THOSE EARRINGS!!!! Hair is gorgeous … as always.

    Jacky
    Jacky
    6 years ago

    Lovely post

    Nappy4C Rocks
    Nappy4C Rocks
    6 years ago

    this title is misleading

    Sonya Freeman
    Sonya Freeman
    6 years ago
    Reply to  Nappy4C Rocks

    It isn’t. It has a bit about shrinkage and then her tips.

    Nappy4C Rocks
    Nappy4C Rocks
    6 years ago
    Reply to  Sonya Freeman

    the ‘bit’ about shrinkage is the misleading part…I thought the title and post was going to be about embracing shrinkage and how to handle it…I was wrong…the first sentence states how shrinkage is ANNOYING…see I don’t feel that way about shrinkage, personally I love shrinkage because I have thin, fine 4Chair and shrinkage MAKES it looks full…

    gapch
    gapch
    6 years ago
    Reply to  Nappy4C Rocks

    i agree with you. the article was fine but i was hoping for the exact contents that you stated. i was hoping for the beginning of a embrace your shrinkage campaign. when i saw the title i saw images of billboards and campaigns promoting shrinkage and women rocking unstretched hair in all textures especially the 4’s… an acceptable image revolution. baby steps i guess

    Nappy4C Rocks
    Nappy4C Rocks
    6 years ago

    yes, you are right…baby steps

    Diva T
    Diva T
    6 years ago

    Thanks for this! I’m going to try these out!

    Darlyn D
    Darlyn D
    6 years ago

    I LOVE my shrinkage for the most part. Besides, I don’t have much to stretch since I still have a TWA LOL

    The only time that I usually stretch it is when it’s braided while pre-pooing or washing.

    trackback

    […]     Wearing your hair in its shrunken state is not ideal for a lot of naturals but sometimes it can be useful or more convenient when you are short on time. Check out this article on how to wear your hair in its shrunken state. […]

    Stephanie
    Stephanie
    6 years ago

    My 18 month old daughter’s hair is kinky, coily, and very shrunken (dry and course) in my opinion. I am struggling with how to care for her hair. Her hair is very different from my 3 year olds which is more like mine so I know how to take care of it. The steps that you have listed here, do you think that will work for my baby?

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