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For those blessed with curly natural hair, the beauty and versatility of our locks are undeniable. However, one common challenge that many curly-haired individuals face is shrinkage. Shrinkage occurs when curly hair retracts, appearing shorter than its actual length. While shrinkage is a natural characteristic of curly hair, it can sometimes be frustrating, as it obscures the true length and volume of our curls. Luckily, there are various stretching techniques that can help us embrace and flaunt our natural hair without worrying about shrinkage. In this blog post, we will explore some effective stretching techniques and how to incorporate them into our hair care routines.
Understanding Shrinkage in Curly Hair
Shrinkage is a normal and inherent trait of curly hair caused by its coiled structure. Unlike straight hair, which falls directly downward, curly hair forms spirals and coils that tend to shrink up when dry or exposed to humidity. The tighter the curls, the more significant the shrinkage can be, sometimes causing curls to appear up to 50% shorter than their actual length. While shrinkage is a sign of healthy hair, it can be discouraging for those who wish to showcase the full length and volume of their curls.
Stretching Techniques to Combat Shrinkage
The banding method is an excellent technique for stretching curly hair without using heat. To apply this method, follow these steps:
Step 1: Start with clean, damp hair. Apply a leave-in conditioner or a moisturizing cream to help with the stretching process and ensure your hair stays hydrated.
Step 2: Divide your hair into several sections, depending on the thickness and density of your curls.
Step 3: Take a hair-friendly elastic band or hair tie and wrap it around the base of each section, then work your way down to the ends. Repeat for each section.
Step 4: Allow your hair to air dry or sit under a hooded dryer. Once completely dry, remove the bands gently.
African threading is a traditional hair stretching technique used by many cultures to achieve length without resorting to heat or chemicals. To use this method:
Step 1: Part your hair into sections and dampen it slightly with water or a leave-in conditioner.
Step 2: Take a long thread or yarn (preferably non-stretchy) and wrap it tightly around each section of hair from the roots to the ends. The thread should be snug but not too tight to avoid breakage.
Step 3: Once all sections are threaded, allow your hair to air dry completely.
Step 4: Carefully remove the threads, and your curls will be elongated and more visible.
Twist or Braid Out
Twist outs or braid outs are popular styling methods that can help stretch your curls while also creating beautiful curl definition. Here’s how to achieve this look:
Step 1: Begin with clean, damp hair and apply a styling product with a firm hold, like a curl cream or gel.
Step 2: Divide your hair into small sections and either twist or braid each section, starting from the roots and working your way down.
Step 3: Allow your hair to air dry completely or use a hooded dryer if you’re in a hurry.
Step 4: Once your hair is dry, carefully unravel the twists or braids, and you’ll be left with elongated, defined curls.
The pineapple method is a nighttime routine that helps preserve your curls and minimizes shrinkage while you sleep. To pineapple your hair:
Step 1: Gather your hair into a high, loose ponytail on top of your head, resembling the shape of a pineapple.
Step 2: Use a scrunchie or a silk/satin hair tie to secure the ponytail. Make sure it’s not too tight to avoid creating indents or breakage.
Step 3: To protect your curls further, sleep on a satin / silk pillowcase or a satin bonnet, which reduces friction and prevents frizz.
Embracing and maintaining our natural curly hair can be a journey filled with ups and downs. While shrinkage is a natural aspect of our beautiful curls, it’s essential to remember that there’s no right or wrong way to wear our hair. However, if you desire to showcase the full length and volume of your curls, stretching techniques can be a game-changer in your hair care routine. Whether you opt for the banding method, African threading, twist-outs, or the pineapple method, experimenting with these stretching techniques will help you find what works best for your unique hair type and desired style.
Always remember to be gentle with your hair and maintain a healthy hair care routine by using moisturizing products and regularly trimming your ends. By incorporating stretching techniques into your curly hair routine, you’ll not only reduce shrinkage but also unlock the full potential of your natural hair, giving you the confidence to rock your curls with pride.
Happy Reading Loc Enthusiasts!