Jun 24, 2015

DISCUSSION: Shrinkage, what is it good for?

As I prepare to remove my second set of box braids, I prepare to deal with my nemesis … shrinkage! Natural hair wearers all over can cite shrinkage as being more annoying than a grain of sand stuck under your eyelid. But why? Why do we hate shrinkage so much? Is shrinkage ACTUALLY good for our hair? Let's discuss. 

My hair is super coily and kinky; I'm a 4B true and through! I experience more than 70% shrinkage when my hair is totally saturated. Unless I blow-dry or straighten my hair, the true length is never seen. So, I understand the struggle when it comes to dealing with shrinkage. 

Like for real, you grow this gorgeous head of hair, but no one can really see it. Right? But what's the big deal. Why is it so important for us to showcase how long our hair has become? Why do we urge our curly sisters to "straighten it out"? Are we still scared to rock out natural strands the way they naturally grow out of our heads?

Truth of the matter is, shrinkage is an indication of extremely healthy hair! You want to pull on that curl or link and watch it snap back. Natural hair is so amazing that it can protect itself from damage and dryness by shrinking. And think about it, when you do straighten your hair (for an event or for a trim) you always hold your breath wondering if your hair will go back to its normal state. At that moment, you WISH for shrinkage!

My hair, mid-shrink, mid stretch
Of course, I strive to find the happy medium between extreme shrinkage and totally straight hair. When my hair is too shrunken, I tend to experience single-strand knots and breakage. So, I utilize a light blow-out technique with nightly twisting/braiding to keep my hair the way I like it. After experiencing several bouts of heat damage, I've learned my lesson with using too much heat on my hair. The perfect level of mid-shrink/mid-stretch is my ultimate goal.

So, the next time you are sending out hate mail to the shrinkage headquarters of America, just remember, when your hair is all shrinky, sucking up all the moisture - it's really healthy. When it bounces back after a Dominican blowout or a silk press, thank God for your unique strands. Our shrinky, stretchy, curly hair is something that so many cultures envy - they even lie about it (you know who I'm talking about). Seem as though, shrinkage is pretty good!

How do you handle shrinkage? Let me know in the comments section.

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