So, you've reached a new hair length milestone and want to show your progress off to anyone who looks in your general direction, BUT your hair won’t cooperate. It's in its shrunken state and looks like a TWA! These are the glories of shrinkage.
I've always found the word funny, because in my mind it implies an irreversible catastrophe, but it’s a normal part of having kinky/koili hair. I cherish shrinkage because I consider it to be a signal of the health of my hair. The springier and bouncier the better – it means that the strength, elasticity and moisture levels are just right for my hair.
I also happen to be in the camp with incredible amounts of shrinkage. I’m not sure how to describe it other than to say I can go from TWA to APL/BSL over the course of a blow dry. I happen to love this property, it offers me a lot of versatility in terms of styling options, and is a neat party trick. This trick was in full effect recently when I went to a hair salon. A Parisian lady did my blowout and she was great! What was hilarious though was watching her reaction at the extension in my length as she stretched it. She played it cool for a while, but eventually exclaimed, “your airr – it ize so small wiz woterrr but it ize so long after zee brushh”. Couldn’t help but chuckle, and she was gracious enough to take a pic:
The downside, in my case, is that extreme shrinkage comes with some serious tangling and knotting. General knots, single strand knots, tangles – you name it my hair can bring it! Resultantly, detangling is arguably the most important part of my routine. I spend the most amount of time on detangling and minimising tangles in my hair. You can read more on my wash day detangling routine here and on Wunmi’s here. I am also a firm believer in the power of a good trim, which is what I was doing in the salon. The combination of these things helps me cope with the inevitable consequences of my shrinkage.
For those who would like to show more length then stretched styles are the way to go. Twist outs, braid outs, bantu-knot outs, blow dries, and yarn stretching (baby blocks done with wool) and a lot more are the way to go. For the rest of us who don’t mind the shrinkage, I’ve found that keeping my hair properly moisturised first with a liquid (in my case water) and a generous amount of Koili butter works wonders.
Let us know about your shrinkage stories and your take on it in the comments below.
Peace, love a fro’s