Shrinkage: Friend or Foe?

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Today’s shrinkage

In the first couple months of my being natural, shrinkage was my best friend.  On all of the natural hair boards I saw postings of a hate-hate relationship with shrinkage.  Shrinkage does not allow you to show the true length of your hair and I could understand that frustration.  I can only imagine how frustrating it might be to have hair down to the middle of your back when stretched, look like it’s only 2-3 inches long when shrunken.  Again, I can only imagine, because I only have about 3-4 inches total.

All though I could imagine the frustration, I was loving my shrinkage.  Why?  Because then you couldn’t tell how misshapened my hair was as it grew out.  Most people at my job didn’t even realize I was growing my hair out until month 3.  It always looked the same, like a 1 inch afro.  I would wear my “textured” ‘fro as I called it everyday.  I’m not really a fan of the defined look on me.  It looks to much like a jheri curl and that is NOT the look I am going for.  Plus, because my hair is so thick, it would take forever + infinity to define all of my curls.  Instead I opt to twirl a few random pieces around my finger and call it a day.  I spritz it in the morning with my homemade leave-in concoction and fluff the smashed in portions to make it look a little more even.  Between the shrinkage and my crazy sleeping smashing it in more on the back and sides, it looked like I had a short afro with tapered sides and back.  I looked like I had a “real” haircut/style that maybe just needed an edge up.  I actually had a cashier tell me that she loved my haircut.  I was thinking, “If you only knew.”

Now I am in my 6th month of being natural, and I’m not feeling shrinkage as much as I did before.  I really did not realize how long my hair actually was until I twisted it for the first time a couple of weeks ago.  I was surprised I had hair long enough to twist.  I was even more surprised by how long the twists were when I stretched them.  When I took my twists down for a “twist-out,” I was like “whoa!”  Where did all of this hair come from?  It’s so much longer than I thought!  Not to mention, when I stick my hands in it, it doesn’t feel as dense.  It felt more like a forest than a bushy jungle.  I don’t mean that in a bad way, but my stretched twist out ‘fro felt thinner (less dense) than my shrunken ‘fro.  Plus it was bigger and I liked the bigness!

I didn’t twist my hair this week.  I just let it be and I’m feeling kind of sad, because it’s back to Smallville.  I’m not so sure I like the compactness that comes with shrinkage anymore.  You always hear people say, “You never know what you had until it’s gone.”  For me the expression would be, “You never know what you have until you stretch it!”

Last weeks twist out


Freelance Graphic Designer, Lifestyle Blogger, Natural Hair Enthusiast and Fitness Convert...yeah, I wear a lot of hats. :)

  • Alicia

    I used to LOATHE shrinkage but I mostly did different types of twist outs because I hated it so much. I just started locking about 6 months ago and the funny part is that it happens with locs too. I lost about 2-3 inches from my locs as they were beginning to loc :-(

    • NaturalArtMaven

      Really? I would have never thought that you can get shrinkage with locs too. I wonder if it’s more noticeable when you loc with longer hair? My brother has locs too, I’m gonna ask him. Btw, you were/are one of my natural hair idols, starting waaaaay back from high school. :)

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