If there’s one thing all curly girls can agree on, it’s that our kinks, curls and waves are amazingly dynamic!
Just think about it. You can do the same exact wash and style routine and end up with a miraculously different set of dry curls. It’s as if each of your curls has a mind of its very own. Not to mention, you can blow-dry even the wildest curls straight, add some water, and watch them recoil in seconds!
While celebrating every inch of your curly hair can feel glorious… sometimes even the most confident curly girls can get caught up on shrinkage.
What is Shrinkage?
Our curly hair goes through many different phases during the wash, condition and styling stages. You have probably noticed that your wet, freshly styled curls naturally stretch and hang lower.
Gradually, as your curls begin to dry, their curl pattern will tighten and each curl will begin to spring and coil up. "Shrinkage" is the reason that curly hair can appear to be shorter than it actually is.
For some curlies, their stretched curls can come down to their bust, but fully dry and styled hair may appear to come down only to their shoulders or even jawline, depending on the curl type.
Who Gets Shrinkage?
Who Gets Shrinkage? Every curly girl sees a little shrinkage, but the amount of shrinkage experienced by someone with wavy or curly hair will be vastly different to that of someone with kinky-coily hair. In fact, someone with type 4 hair can shrink down to as much as 90 percent of their actual hair length.
Why does shrinkage tend to be so much more noticeable with type 4 curly hair? Well, type 4 curl patterns are much tighter and smaller in diameter. The tighter the curl pattern, the more shrinkage you're likely to experience.
Fighting the Shrink
Even though we know shrinkage is inevitable for anyone with curly hair, a lot of curly girls try to fight it by finding ways to stretch their hair. These methods can unwittingly change the pattern of our curls over time as it makes it harder for them to recoil back to their natural state.
But why are curly girls so stressed about shrinkage?
It's hard to separate ourselves from the notion that beautiful hair equals long hair. Often times we hold on to dead and damaged hair for the sake of retaining length, simply because we fear that a short haircut could take away from our appearance.
When we experience shrinkage, some of us can’t help but see our shorter hair length as less beautiful or desirable than curls that appear to be longer.
But it’s important to love and celebrate EVERYTHING about your naturally curly hair, and yes, that includes shrinkage! So before giving it a bad rap, we should consider all the good things that come with it. 🤗
The Benefits of Shrinkage
When it comes down to it, shrinkage is actually a sign of healthy hair!
Don’t believe us? Here are three facts that prove shrunken curls are actually healthy curls. ELASTICITY
Think of each and every strand of your hair like a rubber band. A good rubber band is one that can be stretched without breaking and then snap back to its original form. Well, it’s the same thing with your hair.
When you style your hair, you are momentarily pulling or stretching out the curl pattern like you would with a rubber band. Your hair’s ability to recoil when it shrinks shows that each strand is strong and healthy.
One of our favorite things about curly hair is that it has tons of volume. Everyone knows limp, fragile hair is a sign that your strands may need a little extra TLC. Healthy curly hair is voluminous. Remember, as curls shrink, each stretched coil will not only become shorter, but the barrels of each curl will get fuller, thus creating an insane amount of enviable, voluminous curls.
At LUS, we believe that the key ingredient to styling healthy curls and kinks is to use tons of moisture. In fact, our favorite moisturizing agent is simply H20!
When styling your naturally curly hair, you will not only want to add moisture but also lock it in once you are done styling.
Shrinkage is the process of your hair drying and locking in all of that moisture; without it, your hair will become weak, brittle, and susceptible to damage.
photo by @littlewithbigcurls
It's Time to Embrace It
Shrinkage is all a part of being a naturally curly goddess. So instead of fighting it, learn to embrace it! It’s a sign that your curly hair is healthy and well taken care of. Without it, our curls wouldn't be what they are!
Sometimes on this journey of embracing our curls and shaking off the way we’ve been told to perceive them, we fail to recognize when other stereotypes and ideas (like the false notion that beautiful hair = long hair) can hinder our journey to true self-love and acceptance.
So try not to forget that curls are supposed to shrink. It’s a huge part of what makes them so vibrant, fun and dynamic. Take the time to learn to love every inch of your curls, whether they are fully stretched and elongated, or they are tight and springy ringlets. Simply....love ur curls!