Sep 13, 2011

Toya's Hair Diary- Dear Shrinkage: Thou Art The Enemy

My hair before the shrinkage monster takes control

It’s a well known fact amongst naturalistas that Type 4 hair is subject to shrink a whopping 70% of its length when it dries. With that being said, it is so easy to get discouraged with hair growth after doing The Big Chop. You shampoo your hair and massage your scalp in the shower, marveling at how long it’s getting. You detangle your sopping wet hair in the mirror and think about how fabulous your hair will look when it is dry and defined. Then it dries and somewhere in the distance you hear Taps playing because your hopes of looser curls have been dashed.

My friend Melanie and I did our hair together one weekend while watching Chris Rock’s documentary Good Hair.  She, a white woman, was giving her platinum blonde hair a touchup on her roots. At the same time I was going through my weekly ritual of cleansing, deep conditioning, detangling and defining (this was an awesome and enlightening experience to share together. Story and pics coming soon.) After I was done she looked over in the mirror and said “It’s so much shorter!” She saw me go from having a great big bushy afro to a teeny weeny spiral curled afro. “Yeah, that happens” I said in exasperation. I went on to explain that it will get a little fuller as the week goes on but for the most part this was it.

I forgot to mention in my previous post that when I went natural the very first time that I used to put kiddie perms in my hair, air dry and wear it curly. I know that this must sound like an abomination to you hardcore natural chicks out there but it stretched my curls out and made my hair "look" fabulous. Unfortunately it wasn’t healthy. The new growth was gorgeous but the relaxed ends left me with various curl patterns throughout my hair. As hard as it has been I have decided to go completely natural this time. I will confess though: the shrinkage makes it difficult for me to walk past those Just for Me perm kits at Walgreens.

So how am I handling shrinkage through this awkward stage after The Big Chop? By dressing up my curls!  I have invested in some pretty cute accessories. Between Claire’s, Target and Lovely Bands at the Farmers Market, I’ve been able to pick up various feathered hair clips and flowered head bands to help bide my time.

Headband from Target
This keeps me from being bored with my hair. I also have plenty of scarves that I have collected from various thrift stores.

A scarf I picked up from Southern Thrift that I'm wearing on 4th day hair
This link on Curly Nikki  has some tips on how to combat shrinkage using some dairy based treatments, banding and twisting techniques.  I have also read that avocado butter helps. I have no idea where to find that so if anyone can hip me to that spot where I can get some, I'd love to know.  In the meantime, I am going to continue to dress up my curls and enjoy the growth process.
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