4c hair shrinkage is the ‘decrease’ in hair length once your hair dries up after coming into contact with water. It could be after an intentional wash and dry session or due to involuntary exposure to water (rainwater or humidity).
Regardless of the circumstance, hair shrinkage can be frustrating especially if you’re trying to show off your hair’s length. At times, the shrinkage can be so extreme that is reduces your hair length by 70% or more.
While some people have learned to embrace shrinkage as the defining and distinguishing feature of their 4c hair, most people still try to manage it, while others get rid of it permanently using hair chemicals.
Fighting shrinkage is such a big deal that an entire multi-billion dollar industry has resulted from it. Businesses are making a lot of money dealing in moisturizers, natural 4c hair gels, blow dryers, hair oils, braids, crochet extensions and hair lotions just to deal with shrinkage.
Historically, dealing with shrinkage was perceived as some form of grooming. Women used different tactics to reduce or get rid of shrinkage. Some of the common methods used include; beading, braiding, plaiting, rolling with ochre, and oiling.
Getting rid of shrinkage was so popular and fundamental in history that even African American men straightened their hair using hot combs in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Why is Your 4c Hair Shrinking?
The short and simple answer to this question is – because it’s type 4c hair. However, there are technicalities involved. First of all, your hair shrinks because it is healthy. It may sound awkward but shrinkage is a sign of great elasticity.
If your 4c hair does not shrink, it could be a sign of weak or damaged hair. Besides being healthy, 4c hair is structurally drier and less oily.
Therefore once it dries up after a washing session, it shrinks because the oil and moisture at the bottom of the hair follicle can not spread evenly to the top of the hair shaft.
While shrunken hair can be combed to achieve a nice Afro look, it can cause extreme tangling of hairs, thus causing breakage.
Shrunken hair is also difficult to style and comb, hence the need to manage or minimize it.
Below are a few tips to help you minimize or get rid of hair shrinkage;
1. Leave-in Conditioners
We’ve already established that your hair is shrinking due to dryness. It does not have the capacity to retain moisture after coming into contact with water. To reduce shrinkage, you may consider locking in the moisture using different hair products.
Note that you’re not locking in moisture from the water used to wash your hair, as this could lead to a foul smell. One of the most commonly used methods entails applying a leave-in conditioner.
Such conditioners have the right proportions of water and oil and they have the ability to keep your hair moist for a while.
To increase their effectiveness, you may apply oil after the leave-in conditioner to prevent your hair from absorbing moisture from the air, which could lead to dryness and eventual shrinkage.
2. Try Twist Outs and Plats
Twisting and plaiting natural 4c hair can have magical results, Depending on your hair’s porosity, twist outs or plats can can give you nice bouncy curls, which are way easier to manage when compared to shrunken hair.
All you need to do is divide your hair into small portions (depending on the size of curls you desire). Oil the portions and then twist or braid them.
After a few hours. undo the twists or braids and style your curls. These curls may not last long but they’re definitely easier to handle than a massive shrinkage.
3. Use Anti- Frizzle Products
Some hairs frizzle more than others. Even after taking several measures to get rid of hair shrinkage, your hair could be the type that attracts humidity from the atmosphere, especially during the cold weather season, leaving you with frizzled ends or roots.
To deal with this problem, simply invest in products with the label “anti-frizzle” to minimize shrinkage.
4. Blow Drying for 4c Hair Shrinkage
This is one of the most popular heat method used to deal with shrinkage, as it leads to a longer lasting solution. Blow drying your hair gets rid of tough coils from the roots to the tips. But… PLEASE be careful as you don’t want to heat damage your hair.
If you want to maintain the permed hair look without using chemicals, blow drying your hair using different comb sizes and hair foods can give it a nice straight and shiny look.
However, with time, your hair eventually picks moisture from the air thus reducing its effectiveness. You may consider this method, if you want manageable hair which is easy to style and comb. Furthermore, blow dried hair curls with ease and it is less prone to knots.
5. 3-Step Moisturizing Routine
You need three products to keep your hair lubricated and moisturized – a moisturizer, oil and hair lotion or gel. These three products have the ability to get rid of shrinkage from any type of 4c hair regardless of how tough or tangled your coils are.
Begin this 3-step routine by dividing your hair into different small sections. Alternatively, divide the hair as you apply the products. Start with the moisturizer. Apply it evenly on each section to get rid of dryness. Then apply oil to the hair to lock in the moisture.
You may use any type of oil that works for you. The most commonly used oils include olive oil and coconut oil. Complete the process by applying hair lotion or gel to give the hair a nice lustrous look.
This will keep the hair moisturized for longer in comparison to using moisturizers alone.
6. Use Natural Hair Gels
Natural hair gels are a go-to product for many people blessed with 4c hair. They make work way easier since they have the capacity to get rid of hair shrinkage without much effort. Gel’s are thicker than other products and can lock in moisture for longer.
You can apply generous amount of gel to your wet or dry hair. The beauty of using gels is that they make styling so much easier. They are however not a healthier choice and they need to be washed off at the end of the day.
In a nutshell, there are many ways to deal with hair shrinkage. Some methods yield results that last longer, while others will serve you for a few days, Before settling for any of these methods, consider your schedule and availability of time.
If you’re too busy to tend to your hair frequently, go for longer lasting solutions. However, if you’ve the time to deal with shrinkage every now and then, you may consider short term procedures like twist outs and Bantu knots.
Overall, pay attention to your hair type and establish which products work best in getting rid of shrinkage for you.