Do you like it when your hair shrinks?
I doubt it.
Shrinkage conceals your hair’s true length and it stands in the way of you rocking your high bun, low bun, or pineapple hairstyles as you should.
Although shrinkage is a normal part of 4c hair, there are a few tricks on how to prevent shrinkage on 4c hair.
In this blog, I’ll share some tips from successful naturalists and a few ones that I’ve tried out. Cheers to saving more length and reducing shrinkage!
First, though, let’s make some things clear; like why your natural 4c hair shrinks in the first place.
- Why does 4c hair shrink?
- Tips on How to Reduce Shrinkage in 4c Hair
- Frequently Asked Questions on How to Prevent Shrinkage on 4c Hair
Why does 4c hair shrink?
Hair shrinkage means that your hair appears shorter than its real length; it’s as if the hair is pressed down to conceal its actual length.
Shrinkage often occurs in 4c hair mainly because of the shape of the hair strands.
- The curly shape of hair strands: 4c hair is characterized by tightly curled strands. If you have 4c hair, it means that your hair follicle grows out hair in the form of tight curls, similar to the shape of a spring. Because of this, it is normal for your hair to “curl up” in certain conditions.
Your 4c hair would (and should) shrink in these circumstances:
- After washing: in the process of drying up after washing, your strands would roll up as it were, making them look shorter.
- After exposure to humid weather: When your hair absorbs moisture from the weather, it causes it to shrink. So when you let your 4c hair loose and uncovered, you can expect it to shrink.
Among all hair types, 4c hair experiences the most shrinkage.
It can shrink up to 75% of its actual length.
Again, hair shrinkage is normal and healthy for any natural hair.
Tips on How to Reduce Shrinkage in 4c Hair
Although it is healthy and normal for your 4c hair to shrink, it is also okay to want to flaunt your hair’s true length.
The tips here will help you reduce shrinkage in your hair and also get rid of shrinkage when your hair shrinks.
So if you find yourself with shrunk hair or you want to wash your hair without losing your length, here’s what you can do:
1. Pre-wash Twists
4c hair often experiences the worse form of shrinkage after washing.
You can’t stop washing your hair because you want to avoid shrinkage, but you can do the pre-wash twist to reduce shrinkage.
Simply part your hair into small sections and twist (or braid) each section before you start washing.
It’s true that you may not be able to wash your hair as thoroughly as usual, but doing this helps you wash your scalp more thoroughly – and importantly, reduces shrinkage.
When you’re done washing, leave your hair to dry before loosening the twists. You’ll find that your hair length stays top-notch and you’ve escaped shrinkage.
Some naturalists mention that you can untwist one section, apply shampoo, condition, and rinse, and twist back that section when washing.
Then you repeat the process with other hair sections, and you’ll get to reduce shrinkage.
While this may be extra time taking, it’s a good way to reduce shrinkage while still thoroughly washing your hair.
2. Blow dry
If you do not want to do the twist-thingy before washing your hair, another pro tip is to blow dry your hair.
You can use this tip when your hair shrinks after washing or after you’ve left it loose for a while.
You’ll need to use a blow dryer; plug it on and blow dry your hair while combing it out gently.
That way, you can reduce shrinkage without actually straightening your hair.
You can also use a hair straightener brush, this tool does not totally straighten tightly curled hair like 4c hair, so you can just run it through your hair a few times to get rid of shrinkage.
3. Post-wash stretch
This is the most obvious way out. If your hair shrinks, stretch it.
This doesn’t necessarily mean the conventional, flat iron stretching.
More appropriately, you should make your hair into stretchy hairstyles.
The African Threading method is a very effective style for stretching shrunk hair; you can make it with Brazilian or yarn wool instead of the typical “rubber” (almost no one wants to do that).
You can also make twists or braids with your natural and leave them for a while.
After loosening, you’ll have your true hair length back.
4. Coconut milk
Using coconut milk is a common recommendation for reducing shrinkage in 4c hair.
Although I have not tried it out, many naturalists have, and with good results!
To use coconut milk to reduce shrinkage, apply it to your hair as a conditioner after washing.
If you do not want to part ways with your regular conditioner, mix a little amount of it with coconut milk and use it to condition your hair.
Apart from helping you reduce hair shrinkage, coconut milk has tons of hair benefits like stronger, healthier, and softer hair.
Note that coconut milk is different from coconut oil; coconut oil is just one of the constituents of coconut milk.
5. Gels and hair products
You can also use hair products that are designed to prevent frizz (labeled “anti-frizz”) to reduce shrinkage.
Apply them to your hair when you want to “pack” your hair into styles.
Anti-frizz products will not just keep your hair smooth, but because they stretch your curls to smoothen them, they’ll also reduce how much they shrink.
Don’t overuse them though, so that you don’t weigh your hair down with too much hair product.
Just a little quantity will do, depending on your hair’s thickness.
Aloe Vera gel is one popular anti-frizz product for reducing shrinkage. Like coconut milk, it also has a lot of healthy hair benefits.
A couple of elastic bands can also help you get rid of shrinkage on your 4c hair.
After washing your hair, part it into two or more sections.
Grab one section and pack it tightly, securing it with an elastic band.
The end is likely short (because it’s shrunk) so you’ll need to use your fingers to kind of pull out your hair.
You should apply a leave-in conditioner or anti-frizz hair product and then twist or braid the end of each hair section.
If you leave it that way for a day or two, you’ll have nicely stretched hair when you loosen the style.
Frequently Asked Questions on How to Prevent Shrinkage on 4c Hair
Here are a few more things to know about shrinkage on 4c hair:
How can I make my 4c hair looser?
Twists or braids could do the trick. 4c hair is identified by tight curl patterns and it looks really great and unique.
If you want to occasionally make your curls look looser, twist or braid them for a while and then loosen them.
You’ll have looser curls.
How do I stop my natural hair from shrinking?
Shrinking is a normal part of natural hair so the only way to completely stop it is to relax your hair.
If you don’t want that, you can use the tips above to keep your hair stretched.
Before you wash your hair, part it into small sections and twist or braid.
You can also apply hair gels or other anti-frizz products to your hair before styling.
If you find yourself with shrunk hair, you can simply blow dry it or try any post-wash stretching suggestions above.
Why does my 4c hair shrink so much?
4c hair shrinks so much because the hair is tightly curled.
So when you wash your hair or it gets exposed to humidity, the strands “roll up” like when you drop a spring after pulling.
This makes your hair shrink and it appears shorter.
Which hair type has the most shrinkage?
The hair type with the tightest curl pattern experiences the most shrinkage.
Going by the popular hair type numbering, 4c hair experiences the most shrinkage.
Should I keep 4c hair stretched?
When your 4c hair is stretched, it becomes easier for hair products to slide down to your hair shaft.
That helps your hair to retain more moisture and nutrients.
So it is good to stretch your 4c hair using safe means like threading, banding, twist-outs, or braid-outs.
Heat styling using flat irons is another option, but you should not use it often.
Does stretching natural hair damage it?
No, as long as you are using safe methods. Using heat tools as a regular means to stretch your natural hair will damage it.
Hair shrinkage can be annoying, but it is not a bad hair sign; it means your hair is healthy.
And if you want to prevent shrinkage, there are a couple of ways out.
You can twist your hair before washing, blow dry it after washing, or try the banding method.
That way, you can enjoy flaunting your hair’s length as much as you want!