Shrinkage in black hair: Does shrinkage indicate healthy/unhealthy hair?

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Have you even been casually scrolling through your social media and you see a post that instantly grabs your attention? Well duh what kind question is that?!


Well a post that I stood out to me and recently grabbed my attention, went something like this:


True or False

Shrinkage is an indication of natural hair being healthy.

Well being a woman of color with natural hair, and experiencing shrinkage on a daily basis and trying to figure out what techniques and methods work the best for my shrinking 3C/4A hair, I of course chimed right on in. So let’s take the time to break it down for those that may not know.

What is shrinkage?

Shrinkage is the decrease in the length of the hair when it dries. At this time the hair becomes shrunk in it’s appearance, depending on hair types and porosity, curly hair can shrink up to 90% of it’s actual length.

Now we as naturals love to assume that if we have shrinkage that is a bad thing. Not at all! Matter of fact the more shrinkage the better. This is a normal sign of healthy hair and it shows proper moisturizing and good elasticity. The ability for curls to bounce back is a key sign of health, normally proving the hair not to be damaged my heat or chemicals.

Why does natural black hair shrink?

Black hair has the tendency to shrink because there is no heat or chemical styling being applied to the hair. The hair is in it’s “natural state” which means it has not been altered from it’s normal curl pattern. The biggest ongoing issue with shrinkage is the hair will always appear shorter than it actually is which poses the question of “is it bad hair?”. Absolutely not!! Its just part of the journey and you just have to embrace it and learn how to cope with it as you move through your process. Just remember when hair loses it’s elasticity, it’s easily stretched, loses curl retention, and the hair is easily prone to extreme dryness and breakage. So as long as you are experiencing shrinkage, there is a very big possibility you are working with some pretty healthy hair.

How To Reduce Shrinkage

If you are natural long enough you will see that shrinkage can be nerve wrecking and it will make you very well want to throw in the towel, just have a little patience, and with just a few techniques to keep in mind you will definitely be able to reduce the shrinkage.


  1. Blow drying roots of hair– once the hair is almost but not completely dry, comb from root to ends and blow dry using low to medium heat. Stretch the hair just enough to give it length. This process does not take very long and you could have stretched hair within minutes.
  2. Putting hair in high buns-When performing bun styles be sure to use a good leave in product and a good styling product. During your bunning process be sure not to over manipulate and overstretch hair. The safe limits for hair stretching normally ranges from 20-30 percent. Exceeding that amount of the strand could damage the hair follicles.
  3. Banding-With this method (normally with headbands) stretching is achieved my stretching the strands of your hair as it dries, helping to elongate the hair.
  4. Stretch plates-This method requires the use of the stretch plates being applied to damp hair after being freshly washed. With this method you have the option to sit under the dryer for faster results. In the event you would like to remain heat-free you have the option to sleep in plates overnight as they are flexible for sleeping.
  5. African threading– This method is very similar to the banding technique, except you will use thread in the place of bands. Be sure not to tie the thread at the ends of the hair because you would not the thread to snag the hair or get tangled in order to achieve good results.
  6. Heatless blowout– This method basically only requires finger detangling and through combing. Just be sure to stay clear of H2O and water based products during the process.

Anti-Shrinkage hair products

When stretching the hair and you want to avoid as much shrinkage as possible it would probably be more efficient to focus on products that contain:

This post contains affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links. At no cost to you. Please read my disclosure statement for more information.

  • Flaxseed
  • Bamboo milk
  • Shea Butter
  • Mango Butter

There are many products available to you in stores or online as you continue or even starting your hair journey. Keep in mind you could go through a few of the products before you find one that will actually work the best for you. Here are a few products that  can get you started:

DevaCurl Super Stretch

As I AM Twist Defining Cream

Aunt Jackie’s Flaxseed Don’t Shrink (my favorite)

Softsheen Carson Dark and Lovely Au Naturale Anti-Shrinkage Curl Defining Creme

Softsheen Carson Dark and Lovely Au Naturale Anti-Shrinkage Curl Refresher Sprayanti-shrinkage product

Deva Curl Super Stretch Curl Elongator

Carol’s Daughter Coco Creme Velvet Creme Hair Mask

Texture ID Styling Creme

Cantu Curl Stretcher

and many more…

*Be sure to share with us what anti-shrinkage product you are using and if they work for you if not listed in the list above.


So as I mentioned above shrinkage is going to be a part of the natural hair journey. Yet it can be manageable It’s just going to be up to you to know your hair and what anti-shrinkage methods and products are going to work for you. So the answer to the above question is going to be TRUE, shrinkage on natural black hair is a sign of good moisturizing and good elasticity which ultimately shows that the hair is in a very healthy state. Which is one of the things we always want to focus on maintaining through our journey (HEALTH). You never want to lose the elasticity in the hair as it leads to dryness, breakage, and a long line of other issues.

Key point to remember:

Hair that is properly moisturized and well hydrated will shrink!!

Sincerely yours,

-Natural By Popular Demand

Please be  sure to follow me on my  hair journey on IG: @geekedtobenatural

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