Last month, I was out researching packaging for our 2023/24 products and I saw some black hair care range branded as anti-shrinkage, then I saw more products labelled as ‘elongators’ still playing on shrinkage. I honestly rolled my eyes. Perhaps I am super alert to the subtle or rather not-so-subtle ways in which we are conditioned to believe that a natural occurrence should be fixed. 

Let me be clear, products cannot fix shrinkage, but your technique can. More importantly, you do not need products to address shrinkage in any way! The absurdity of it shows how we as black women are marketed products to fix our hair, rather than to celebrate and work with its uniqueness. 

So, I have taken the time to write this blog in order to explain shrinkage as a sign of healthy hair for many!

What is shrinkage? 

Shrinkage can be defined as the perception that your hair has decreased in length in a wet, moist or damp state. Your hair can shrink and curl up into a much shorter length, sometimes as much as up to 90% of your original length! – The amount of shrinkage you experience depends on your hair type. Conversely, I have also worked with clients who do not experience shrinkage at all!! or some where it is absolutely minimal.

Shrinkage is a sign that your hair isn’t dry or damaged due to heat or excessive styling, and this is what gives your beautiful curls the ability to bounce back to its original healthy state. 

Shrinkage is a characteristic of our afro hair, and it is not something that can be changed unless it's technically damaged by heat or relaxers .

Accept your shrinkage! 

I am of the opinion that shrinkage is dreaded because of the ingrained notion that beautiful hair is long hair. I love long hair, but I don't believe your hair has to be long to be beautiful! We should challenge this idea. I also believe many of us with natural hair dread it because we associate shrinkage with increased knots and tangles. And this is true!!! you will get more tangles and knots if you allow your hair to shrink on itself. To prevent shrinkage leading to tangles and knots, please put your hair in a stretched style. Technique, rather than products is what you need here, so styling like two-strand twists, threading, three-strand plaits or cornrows will ELONGATE your hair and keep tangles at bay. 

Whatever you do, avoid products selling you pipe dreams!! They may be doing something else, but they are not anti-shrinkage! Please note that anti-shrinkage products are different from humidity blockers, some of which can help to prolong a style like a blow-dry from reverting. 

If you read our blogs, please let us know in the comments so we know if we should continue writing these!

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