by Cipriana of Urban Bush Babes
Now I know you’re reading the title and thinking, “um excuse me, embrace shrinkage…NEVER”. I am not going to lie, I love a good stretch technique as much as the next natural, but learning to embrace shrinkage has more benefits than you think! For some naturals, stretching is just a visual preference; but for others, it’s a tactic to promote easier manipulation of tresses. Falling in the tactical bracket, stretching my 4c strands has helped tremendously in my detangling sessions, cutting down on time and breakage. But constant or everyday manipulation to maintain a stretched style can do more harm than good. Though shrinkage may get more than the occasional side eye, it is actually a sign of health and serves as proof that your strands haven’t been damaged by heat or other external factors. There are many ways to temporarily reduce shrinkage. But permanent alternatives, such as “heat training”, permanently damage the strands by altering the original bonds, similar to the effects of chemicals. Depending on the density and “health” of the strand, heat training does work for some, but it still causes damage by weakening the strands. Our hair consists of several chemical and physical bonds. Two of those are hydrogen and salt. Hydrogen bonds are responsible for the elasticity in our strands and its ability to return to its original form. These bonds are extremely fragile and can be changed by heat and water, while salt bonds are changed by ph balance. If the hair is too acidic or alkaline, due to products that are applied to it, it can break down the salt bonds. Chemical bonds are only affected by chemicals; hair relaxers, texturizers, certain color agents, etc. Although chemical bonds are stronger than physical bonds, once they’re changed, there is no going back. For “healthy” curls, it’s ideal that your hair be able to “go back.” Pull a strand of healthy curly hair and watch it quickly snap back to its original form. The “snap back,” effect has always been my alias for shrinkage. It not only shows the original condition of the hair but demonstrates strength. The more elasticity your curls have, the more protected they are against breakage. So here’s the dilemma; Stretching leads to easier manipulation while shrinkage protects against breakage…I know… what’s a natural to do? The solution is to find a happy medium between the two. Stretching can be extremely beneficial, but too much of a good thing can be detrimental. So if heat is your preference, stretch your strands no more than once a week with low heat. If heat is not an option some alternatives are braidouts, twistouts or bantu knot outs.
Read the rest at UrbanBushBabes.com
Do any of you include shrinkage in as a part of your length retention regime?
Urban Bush Babes online publication featuring two best friends and passionistas creating the definitive source for natural hair, fashion, health, lifestyle, music and arts & culture while living in NYC.