How to Prevent Shrinkage After Washing Natural Hair

Shrinkage After Washing Natural Hair
Image: Envato Elements

When it comes to natural hair, shrinkage is one of the things you have to deal with. Natural hair is naturally dry and shrinkage often occurs after you have washed your hair or added water to it. Shrinkage is normal when it comes to naturally curly and kinky hair types, however experiencing extremely shrinkage on full-length hair can be really frustrating.

Shrinkage oftentimes is a sign of a healthy and filled strand but this can be exhausting when your hair appears an inch or two shorter than its actual length. The irony of shrinkage is that it actually indicates natural hair and one thing to keep in mind is that shrinkage can happen to any natural hair type.

Natural-haired women often try to get rid of shrinkage as much as they can although there is almost no way to avoid it. And many have just learned to embrace it. Shrinkage can actually damage your hair if you are trying to fight it and especially if too much heat is involved. But here are ways to minimize shrinkage in your natural hair.

Why Does Wet Hair Shrink Naturally?

Natural hair shrinkage causes your hair to shink in length and this usually happens when your hair is moisturized while stretched or straightened. This can happen to any hair type, your curls can easily go from lengthy stretched-out form to a tightly compacted form which can be really annoying.

Most people with natural hair experience shrinkage and it tends to happen when your hair gets wet when washing. Wet hair tends to shrink more naturally and this is because when you wet your hair, the cuticles are ready to absorb water. When this happens, your hair will curl into its natural state and your curl pattern tend to become obvious.

Shrinkage on wet hair is inevitable but some things can be done to reduce the amount of shrinkage.

6 Ways To Prevent Shrinkage After Washing Natural Hair

Every curly and coily natural hair tends to shrink and there is no specific reason behind this. The fact that your hair shrinks back to its natural state shows your hair has no heat damage or any other issue that might complicate it. However here are few methods you can follow to prevent shrinkage after washing your hair.

1. Banding

Source: Hairstyle

Fighting shrinkage with chemical products can put tension on your hair strands and scalp which can lead to having split ends. Banding is the perfect way to minimize shrinkage without causing any damages.

The best way to achieve this is to part your hair into smaller, more manageable sections and place them in bands all the way down your hair to keep it stretched. Opt for hairbands without the metal closure and stay away from rubber bands.

2. Roller Sets

Roller sets
Source: Byrdie

Roller sets are another great way to stretch out your natural hair when it;’s wet without causing any tension to your strand. You can use actual rollers, Flexi rods, or curl formers to stretch your hair out. Roller sets are one of the least damaging ways to stretch out your hair and it prevents natural hair shrinkage on any hair types.

Make sure to comb out the knots before rolling to prevent a tangled mess.

3. Bantu Knots

Protective hair hairstyles
Source: FROtorial

Bantu knots are not just another fun style that prevents shrinkage but also acts as a protective hairstyle for natural hair. Bantu knots are done by taking sections of your hair and twisting them in the same direction until they can twist around into a knot and when the knots are taken down, your hair should be properly stretched.

4. Bun

Natural hair bun
Source: Naturally Curly

Putting your hair in a bun after washing is another way to prevent shrinkage. Note that the bun shouldn’t be too tight to prevent creases and to reduce shrinkage even more with bun, use bobby pins to hold down stray hair and make your bun look less messy.

5. Twist Outs/Braid Outs

Twist Outs/Braid Outs
Source: AishaBeau

The use of braid and twist-outs after washing your natural hair is one of the heat-free ways to combat shrinkage. This process keeps your hair from getting tangled when drying as well. Trying a smaller twist or braid on your natural hair after washing will not only help to elongate your hair but also help get defined curls.

Twist out is actually the simplest way to stretch out your natural hair and you can achieve a protective hairstyle with it. You might get better results with braid-outs than a twist out though.

6. Try Some Anti-Frizz Serum

Try Some Anti-Frizz Serum
Source: Naturally Curly

Spraying your natural hair with a bottle of anti-frizz serum after washing can come in really handy in preventing frizz thereby reducing shrinkage. Many professional hairstylists believe shrinkage could be a result of humidity hence an anti-frizz product will help seal your hair so humidity doesn’t get to it.

Wrapping Up

Many hair products in the market will help you prevent shrinkage however how effective it will be might depend on your hair type and maintenance. While natural hair shrinkage might not be what you want, you might learn to embrace it. You must always look at it as versatile rather than being a hindrance and above are simple tips that help you work with it to get better results.


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