What is hair shrinkage?

Hair Shrinkage is a term used to describe your hair drawing up and appearing shorter than it really is due to the hair being curly. Depending on your hair type and hair porosity, your hair can shrink to upwards of 90% of its actual length. Understanding this, it’s not difficult to see why some people see it as an undesirable aspect of curly hair, but in actuality, hair shrinkage has a lot of unique and wonderful benefits.

The benefits of hair shrinkage

One of the most immediate benefits of hair shrinkage is that it increases the appearance of hair volume, making it look fuller. In that respect, hair shrinkage can be thought of as an exchange of length for volume, and it can work both ways. If you’re trying to decrease some of your hairs appeared volume, then stretching or straightening it may help. Another great benefit of hair shrinkage is that it’s easier to shape. Fluffy hairstyles are easier to achieve; afros, hair puffs, and other such shapely hairstyles are generally easier to do, as the hair will stay in place.

You don’t have to worry about the rain

Imagine you just had your hair done, a beautiful blowout, and suddenly it rains. Between the rain itself and the humidity, your style is all but ruined if you step outside. After having invested time and money into your appearance, this can be devastating. With hair shrinkage, you won’t have to worry about that. Rain can completely soak your hair, and your style will remain largely unharmed.

Utilizing hair shrinkage when styling hair

This is something you don’t see a lot, but did you know that you can utilize shrinkage to style your hair? One of my favorite things is to give the appearance of layered hair. To achieve this first section, your hair in such a way that about 3/4ths of the back is separate from the rest of the hair.  Ultimately the goal is to stretch the back 3/4ths and allow the rest of your hair to shrink (you can also stretch the front of you want long bangs). This can be achieved by using water to induce shrinkage and a combination of drying and hair stretching techniques to increase the length.

I would start by oiling my hair and pulling the back 3/4ths into it into two Bantu knots to stretch the hair. Then I would twist the rest of my hair like normal because I usually did my hair when wet, the latter sections would shrink. After that, I would allow the Bantu knots to dry, typically leaving it overnight. The next day I would take the Bantu knots out and twist my hair (without the addition of water). The end result would be the appearance of layered hair that I could wear as twists or takedown and wear as a twist out once my hair settled.

What is your experience with hair shrinkage? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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