Shrinkage and You

by kcurly on January 30, 2010

in Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow (Random Hair Thoughts),Progress-Length and Health

I once saw a member on LHCF, LadyLibra, do this side by side shot of her straight and curly hair. I finally got around to recreating it on myself.

Shrinkage is a characteristic of natural hair…and, more than likely, curly hair period. Of course, even though curly hair does shrink up and appear shorter because of the curl pattern, kinky hair can do this in an epic type of way.

The picture above is from when I straightened my hair this last time. The hair on the right is not completely dry yet, so it still has more shrinking to go. I would say my hair shrinks about 50-60 percent of it’s actual length.

Why does shrinkage suck?

  • It camouflages length
  • Encourages knots and tangles as the hair shrinks on itself

Why does shrinkage rock?

  • It’s part of your hair texture. It’s uniquely you.
  • When you hair gets  longish, the ends are protected from brushing against shoulders and clothes
  • Increases volume and thickness of hair
  • Lends variety to styling (see this post as how it relates to twists)

Once I stopped trying to fight it so much, especially when wearing my hair in a wash n go, shrinkage became just another part of life. Granted, I still stretch my hair out with banding and twisting on occasion. However, shrunken twists and twist outs (ie twists done on wet hair, thus allowing them to shrink as they dry) are fast becoming some of my favorite styles.

How do you feel about your shrinkage?



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  • Alice

    I’m on the fence about it. On one hand, I LOVE that my hair can get really really REALLY big, but I hate detangling the knots and snags when I wear a wash and go (my favorite style!)

  • Lynnieluve

    I have a love/hate relationship with shrinkage but I am getting use to it. Roxie (my hair’s name) is getting to a length were I can no longer let her air dry. I have to two strand twist it to dry or I will have big mess on my hands.

  • Wilma

    Thank you so much for all the information on your blog. I’m a white woman with very curly hair. The ends of my hair were so dry and brittle and I didn’t know what to do about it. I now deep condition, use protective hairstyles and co-wash. After a month my hair looks and feels more healthy. So thank you!

  • Demi

    I love this photo. The length difference is really amazing.

  • Serena

    Is the curly side a wash and go? Wow your hair is so beautiful. I’m still in the TWA stage.

  • justmytake

    yes, your hair looks great. i cant wait to get to that length. with shrinkage my hair is about earlobe length and when straight it reaches a bit below my chin.

    i have accepted my shrinkage. i like the curls and coils my hair has. its original and such a switch from my boring, straight permed hair days.

  • http://N/A Brittney

    Shrinkage can sometimes suck but you have to get over it because it’s just want our hair does. It’s our hairs way of protecting it’s self, I heard from a woman on fotki that shrinkage ( A lot of it) was a sign of healthy hair. BTW your hair FABOLOUS it’s real thick and healthy looking you look great in this picture.

  • Tiffany C.

    I love the picture, can’t wait until I can take one like that myself. I am one month past my BC and I am definitely getting to know my hair’s shrinkage factor very well. I think I will be more okay with the shrinkage once my hair grows out more. I love the post about dry twists vs. wet twists. I think it will help the next time I twist my hair. I do have a question though. I did dry twists on my hair the first time I tried it and once I finished they were all over the place. They didn’t lay neatly and nicely like I see yours and most others do. They kind of stuck out in all different directions and some straight up. Do you think this is because of the length of my hair? Maybe I should wait for it to get a little longer before I do twists so they will hang straight and not go all over the place. What do you think?

  • t.

    Oh the shrinkage! I say “eh”! I can deal with it. Keeping my hair well conditioned and moisturized seems to cut down on the shrinking. I can only do wash and gos in the summer anyway (it takes an entire day to air dry) so I don’t think about it much. Two strand twisting is my main stay and I get a pretty good stretch out of them even though I do them wet. I am loving my home made shea butter/coconut oil whip. My hair can take on the heavier moisturizers for sealing and setting. When fully straight my hair hangs at my bra and with the twists it hangs easily just past my shoulders. I think that’s pretty good.
    Plus I love the surprise when I do blow it out to see how amazingly long and thick my hair can get! I never had hair this full of body when I relaxed!

    Miss Tiffany,
    If you set your twist dry, try pining or clipping them down and wrapping a silk scarf around them to get them to settle in one direction. Not sure how long your hair is, but when my hair was shorter setting them wet was easier to keep them going in the direction I wanted. They don’t have to be soaking wet even slightly damp setting may give you more control.

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  • Anonymous

    I’m so conflicted about twisting. On the one hand I get the length I crave and definition to my curl on the other hand I feel like I’m trying to “whiten” my hair by making it look curly but isn’t twisting your hair to highlight the curl no different than brushing your hair to highlight the shine? It’s not fair we have such a complex relationship with “our” hair.

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