Shrinkage occurs when hair looks shorter than its actual length, and with the tight curls that 4C hair brings, shrinkage is inevitable. However, there are ways that you can reduce and minimize shrinkage. In this blog, we’ll discuss the importance of shrinkage on 4C hair as well as the top 10 ways that you can reduce the shrinkage of your curls.
Say goodbye to dull and stringy hair and hello to luscious curls.
Why is it important to reduce shrinkage on 4C hair?
Did you know that curly hair can shrink up to 90 percent depending on hair type and porosity? Shrinkage will decrease your length and can cause tight curls (like those in 4C hair) to become knotted together. While shrinkage is perfectly natural and even indicates healthy hair, you may seek to reduce it to increase the length and make it more manageable to care for.1. Stretch it out with banding
Banding is a favorite method for a stretched-out look because it prevents your hair from shrinking back up immediately after it’s washed. You can band your hair by using normal hairbands on freshly washed, damp, or wet hair. You’ll divide the hair into sections and gently wind the hairbands around each section from root to tip.
The hairbands should be left in the hair until it dries to allow it to stretch. Wrapping your hair in a satin bonnet or scarf and using tangle-free hairbands can help prevent damage and breakage while you band your hair.2. Don’t let it shrink on a wash day
Shrinkage often occurs on wash day, so you’ll need to actively combat that if you want to keep your 4C hair as long as possible. One of the best ways to do this is to organize your hair in several sections and twists while washing it. Only take out one twist at a time – apply the shampoo, condition, rinse, and then repeat. Then, after your shower, only style one twist at a time. Most women find that their hair is less likely to shrink back up if it’s kept in the twists while it’s wet or damp. It may take a little bit longer, but it’s worth it overall!3. Use coconut milk
Coconut milk is a popular solution when reducing shrinkage on type 4C hair. Often, it is used to replace conditioner as it has fatty acid content and packs 5 grams of protein per cup. It also has molecules that are small enough to penetrate the hair shaft, so you’re providing all of the hydration and nutrients that your hair needs. If you’re already a fan of coconut oil, then coconut milk is a similar switch and provides everything you need for healthy, stronger, smoother, softer, and longer strands.
To use coconut milk, purchase a canned variety as this is often easiest. You can divide it up into several different plastic zipper bags and freeze it for different hair washing sessions. You can then use it alone as your conditioner or mix it into a small amount of your deep conditioner. If you choose to use fresh coconut milk (rather than canned) keep in mind that it goes rancid quickly. You shouldn’t leave it in your leave-in conditioner to use session after session. After 20 minutes to 1 hour, you should rinse the coconut milk out.4. Do monthly henna treatments
When it comes to hair, most people think of henna as a solution for coloring gray hair. However, it’s also a great condition that helps bind the keratin to your hair while strengthening the strands. Because the hair strands will now be heavier, it also helps reducing shrinkage in addition to being softer, smoother, and stronger.
Keep in mind that you may not see results from henna immediately. Henna deposits along the shaft are semi-permanent, but it will take several treatments over 3 to 4 months to see it reduce shrinkage on your type 4C hair.5. Apply aloe vera gel before styling
Aloe vera styling products provide your hair with hydration, enzymes, and amino acids. Always apply aloe vera gel before any of your other styling products and look forward to smooth and elongated curls. Try out this Green Apple & Aloe Nutrition Hold Me Down! Gelle.6. Eliminate frizz
You’re probably saying, “Really? You need to tell me to eliminate frizz?” Frizz is probably the bane of your existence, and no one needs to tell you that it doesn’t keep your hair in its healthiest state. That said, don’t underestimate the value of anti-frizz styling products. They can both smooth and elongate your curls, which will help reduce shrinkage. The Curly Curl Cream is perfect for this purpose. It’s formulated with the intention of smoothing your curl and reducing shrinkage.7. Blow dry your roots
One way to help reduce shrinkage is in how you allow your hair to dry. Although heat often causes damage, blow-drying the roots is recommended to prevent shrinkage because heat causes the hair to expand.
So, after you wash your hair, allow it to dry about 85 percent of the way before you take a blow dryer to it. You’ll get the best anti-shrinkage results when you have damp hair rather than soaking wet hair, which is why you must let your hair air dry up to this point. Your goal is to blow dry ONLY the roots on medium heat. However, you should avoid just holding the blow dryer to your roots (ouch!).8. Go for the full blow out
If your hair did well with the roots-drying trick, then you may consider trying a full blowout, which follows a lot of the same properties. The thought is that heat helps the hair expand and thus prevents shrinkage. You should only use this method once in a while because it can cause long-term hair damage with all the heat and drying it’s using. Be sure to use a heat protectant before starting.9. Use a regular moisturizer
You know that 4C hair loves moisture. Don’t forget to use a regular moisturizer in your hair like shea butter or avocado oil. This can help your hair retain moisture and lock the strains into place. You’ll end up with a more defined curl pattern, but your hair won’t shrink up. This is a great way to maintain both the health and length of your hair. Try this 5-star Nutrient Rich Shine Butter that has both avocado and shea butters to deliver nutrient-rich moisture to the hair and skin.10. Pineapple your hair at night and use a scarf
This is a fairly painless method because all you have to do is put your hair up and sleep on it. Pineappling your hair allows you to prevent shrinkage through the same method of stretching hair. Your bun will pull the hair tight enough that it elongates it, but it won’t stretch it so tightly that it breaks or hurts your strands.
Be sure to cover your hair at night to prevent your hair from clumping together and shrinking at the same time. You can pineapple your hair and then cover it with a silk or satin scarf or sleep on a silk or satin pillowcase to avoid damage and frizz. Once you wake up, spray on some leave-in conditioner and say hello to your beautiful curls! This is a low-maintenance way to reduce shrinkage and have beautiful curls.
Watch this video for a tutorial on The Pineapple Method
Reducing shrinkage can help make your hair more manageable and reduce breakage that allows you to grow it out longer. However, keep in mind that it can also cause a disruption in your curl pattern if you do it over a long period of time. So, the way your curls once appeared may not be the way they continue to appear. Thus, if you’re still looking to have ultra-defined curls for a regular wash and go routine, you may want to vary how regularly you stretch your hair as loosening up your curls permanently may not be the best route long-term. For others who wear their natural hair straight or in updos frequently, it may not be necessary to have the curls they once had.
This is something to keep in mind as you explore hair shrinkage and ways to reduce it over time. Looking for other ways to care for your 4C hair? Read another blog: 10 Effective Ways to Keep 4C Hair Moisturized.
WRITE FOR US
Think you've got a fresh perspective that will challenge our readers to engage and educate themselves on how to attain a healthier self, hair and skin included? We're always looking for authors who can deliver quality articles and blog posts. Thousands of men and women will read your work, and you will level up in the process.