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5 Easy Tips To Prevent Shrinkage On 4c Hair!

If you have 4C hair, like me, you are very familiar with the term “natural hair shrinkage.” 

It refers to the phenomenon where your natural hair appears shorter than it actually is because of the tight curls and coils in your hair. 

While shrinkage can be frustrating, it’s a natural part of having a 4C hair curl pattern.

So, understanding your hair shrinks and learning how to reduce shringkage can make all the difference in your 4c natural hair journey.

That’s why in this post, I share how to prevent 4c hair shrinkage, and ways to manage your curly hair to achieve the best results.

young black woman with beautiful afro hair holding a comb to her face in front of a brown background

5 ways to prevent shrinkage on 4C hair

If you’re frustrated with your 4c hair shrinking, you’re not alone. 

I have been growing my natural hair for 3 years, but it always looks short due to shrinkage.

So here are a few things you can do to minimize shrinkage and keep your hair looking fabulous.

1. Stretch your hair

Stretching your 4C hair is one of the best ways to reduce shrinkage and elongate your hair in its natural state. 

You can stretch your hair using a variety of methods, including twist outs, braid outs, Bantu knots, and the African threading method which is my personal favorite.

But you can also use roller sets to stretch and style your hair. 

These styles not only stretch your hair but also serve as great protective hairstyles for 4C hair.

2. Use heat

Using heat is another way to prevent shrinkage on 4C hair. 

You can use a blow dryer with a comb attachment or a flat iron to straighten your natural 4C hair.

However, be careful not to use too much heat, as it can damage your hair.

woman with big afro, pulling at one strand

3. Try a Protein Treatment

One method, I still need to try out is protein treatments, as they can help strengthen your hair and reduce shrinkage too. 

Look for products that contain hydrolyzed protein, which can penetrate the hair shaft and strengthen the hair from within.

4. Use the right products

Of course, using the right products can also help minimize shrinkage.

Here it is crucial that figure out your 4C hair porosity first, as low-porosity hair tends to experience lots of shrinkage. 

Look for products that are specifically designed for natural 4C hair, as they often contain ingredients that can help reduce shrinkage.

Moreover, avoid products that contain harsh chemicals, as they can dry out your natural hair and make shrinkage worse.

5. Avoid over-manipulation

Over-manipulating your hair can also lead to shrinkage. Therefore, try to avoid constantly touching and styling your hair throughout the day. 

Instead, opt for low-manipulation styles that allow your hair to rest and grow.

By following these tips, you can minimize shrinkage and keep your 4c hair looking healthy and beautiful. 

Remember, everyone’s hair is different, so it may take some trial and error to find the right routine for you.

how to prevent shrinkage after washing natural hair

Why does my 4c hair shrink so fast?

The reason why 4c hair shrinks so fast is because of the tight curl pattern. Black women know that their wet hair is considerably longer than dry hair.

Shrinkage occurs because of the way 4C hair reacts to water.

All hair textures stretch when wet and shrink when dry, but 4C hair experiences the most shrinkage due to the kinks and coils in the hair strands. 

This can make it difficult to detangle, manage, and style your hair. 

But with the right techniques and hair products, you can reduce shrinkage and make your hair care routine easier and more effective. 

The natural shape of 4c coils is dense and tight. And unless you put it in a protective style or elongate it on wash day, your tight coils always win. 

young black woman with straightened natural hair sitting at the hair salon

Does shrinkage mean healthy hair?

Shrinkage is very common for black girls, particularly us with natural 4c hair. 

While shrinkage may be frustrating for some, it is actually a sign of healthy hair.

Healthy hair has some level of elasticity, which means that it can be stretched without breaking and then bounce back to its original shape. This is why shrinkage is an indication that your hair has good elasticity, and is therefore healthy. 

When your hair is properly moisturized, it can easily shrink and then bounce back without any damage.

However, it is important to note that shrinkage alone does not necessarily mean your hair is 100% healthy.

Other factors such as breakage, split ends, and hair loss should also be considered when assessing the overall health of your hair.

In fact, shrinkage can be a good thing for your hair. 

When your hair shrinks, it retains moisture much better than straight hair. This is because your curls and coils create a barrier that helps to trap moisture in the hair shaft. 

This can help to prevent dryness and breakage, which can lead to hair loss.

So, embrace your shrinkage and take care of your hair to ensure it stays healthy and beautiful.

how to stop shrinkage on natural hair 4c

Is shrinkage good for 4c hair?

Shrinkage is a natural occurrence for all hair types, but it’s particularly noticeable in 4c hair. 

While it is frustrating to see your hair shrink up to 75% of its actual length, shrinkage is actually a sign of healthy coily hair.

When your hair shrinks, it means that it’s properly moisturized and has good elasticity.

As we all know, moisture is crucial for maintaining healthy hair, and kinky hair needs even more than other hair types. 

Shrinkage helps to protect your hair from damage by keeping it hydrated and elastic. Additionally, shrinkage can actually make your hair appear thicker and fuller. 

When your hair is stretched out, it may look longer, but it can also look thinner. Shrinkage enhances the volume of your hair and highlights its natural texture.

While shrunken coils may be frustrating at times, it’s important to embrace and appreciate your hair’s natural texture and volume.

young black woman getting afro air straightened in a salon

How much shrinkage does 4c hair have?

According to experts, 4c hair has the most shrinkage of any hair type. 

When wet, 4c hair can stretch out and reveal its true length. However, when it dries, it can shrink up to 75% of its hair length.

This means that if your hair is 10 inches long when wet, it may only appear to be 2.5 inches long when dry.

Very depressing, I know.

However, the amount of shrinkage can vary depending on factors such as hair porosity, density, and thickness. But, on average, 4c hair can experience up to 70% shrinkage or more. 

This can make it difficult to accurately measure the length of your hair, especially when trying to track growth progress.

A great way to keep track of your natural hair growth is by getting a silk press every 6 months.

That’s when I get my 4c hair trimmed and measure its length. 

Of course, whenever stretching or straightening your hair, make sure to use a heat protectant to avoid heat damage. 

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Kendahle Lanier

Sunday 24th of September 2023

I just stumbled onto your site, & I wanna thank you & wish you all the best! So much information here for us 4c Sistas! Keep up the good work!