Embrace Your Shrinkage! What You Should Know About Natural Hair’s Defining Quality

Struggling with shrinkage? Here’s what you should know about stretching your kinks, curls, and coils!

There are countless people with naturally curly/coily/kinky hair who are seeking a tried-and-true solution for their ever-present nemesis… shrinkage. This might involve changing the curl pattern, extending the curl pattern, or keeping hair in stretched styles.

The type of curls you have, along with the thickness of your hair and the fineness of the strands, is a genetic phenomenon, and will likely not change significantly (though some people experience a minor change in texture during puberty and after menopause). This is why accepting the natural state of your hair is so important – it’s part of who you are! While wearing your hair in a variety of styles is certainly healthy and a normal part of grooming, it’s also important to recognize the full beauty and individuality of your natural texture, which might shrink, rather than hang.

While shrinkage cannot be entirely prevented (without either relaxing or texturizing), it can be addressed through a variety of styling and maintenance techniques. Styles like braid-outs, twist-outs, and roller sets offer an organized and stretched look that allows you to enjoy the length of your hair without exposing it to either chemicals or heat damage. However, if it’s exposed to moisture, it will likely start to frizz and/or shrink, but just remember – it’s all a part of your hair’s unique beauty!

While the most popular stretching options are braid-outs and twist-outs, many naturals also experiment with alternative techniques, like threading or banding, that can be quite damaging in spite of the fact that they don’t require heat. Threading requires a lot of mechanical manipulation in addition to wrapping a length of abrasive string around sections of hair. The string can cause a great deal of damage simply by rubbing against the strands and creating friction. Additionally, this technique requires a great deal of tension, which can lead to traction alopecia.

Another common technique is known as “heat training.” Heat training is the theory that the continual use of heat when flat-ironing or blow-drying ultimately “trains” the hair into a looser texture by relaxing the outer bonds of the cuticle layer. This can loosen the natural curl and make it less susceptible to frizz in humid environments. However, there is a very, very fine line between “heat trained” hair and “heat damaged” hair. Relying upon continual heat styling to ultimately loosen your curl pattern can put your hair at risk of breakage.

However you choose to wear your natural hair, a healthy maintenance routine is essential for ensuring your hair’s long-term health, regardless of texture. Regular gentle cleansing, deep conditioning, and keeping the ends trimmed will maximize your hair’s length, health, and luster regardless of the style.

AK Hair & Healing offers a team of curly/coily/kinky hair specialists with in-depth experience bringing out the natural beauty of diverse hair types and textures. To learn about AK Hair & Healing’s menu of services, mission, and philosophy, please visit our information page.

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