(Last Updated On: October 30, 2020)

Shrinkage is a natural aspect of 4c hair. It surprises me each time natural haired women are shocked by how much their hair shrinks. The truth you must embrace right now is that the more coily the hair is, the more it shrinks. Think of your 4c natural coils as a spring. The only way to know the true length of the spring is to pull it out a bit, so you can see how far the spring can stretch to.

And just like a spring, your natural hair also works the same way. Infact, the main reason why Black women used to relax their hair is to eliminate shrinkage altogether so that the hair stays stretched and keeps its true length. 

If you’re a bit bothered by the shrinkage you often get, I would like to provide a quick guide on natural hair shrinkage and some tips on how to minimize shrinkage.

What causes natural hair shrinkage?

Every curly and coily hair has the tendency to shrink. Nothing causes our hair to shrink, aside from its genetic predisposition to do what nature tells it to. 

Shrinkage often happens after you’ve washed your hair or added water to it. If you leave your hair loose and don’t braid or twist it, your natural coils will gradually coil up as the water evaporates from your hair

What is the normal percentage of 4c hair shrinkage?

Since 4c hair is the most coily hair type, it can shrink to as much as 10% of its true length, especially if you pat it down further. 

Is shrinkage a sign of healthy hair?

Yes it is. The fact that your hair shrinks back to its normal texture shows that you don’t have heat damage or any other damage that may compromise the true texture and coil formation of your hair. 

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How do I stop my 4c hair from shrinking?

The only way to stop your hair from shrinking is to relax it or heat straighten it. But then as soon as your hair comes into contact with water, it will curl back and shrink. 

You can however reduce shrinkage by stretching your hair and keeping it stretched.

Eight ways to minimize shrinkage.

There are several ways you can reduce shrinkage so that you can show off the true length of your hair.

1. Blow out by Keya J.

2) Twist out by kbmaria.

3) Keep your hair in a bun by Adanna Madueke.

If your hair is short, you can add some Marley hair to provide fullness and eco styler gel to slick the hair down. 

4) Braid out by kbmaria.

5) Flat twists by Naakie Nartey

6) Bantu Knots by Tyiece.

7) Banding by Sashie E TV.

You will need hair elastics to band your hair. 

8) African threading by Jane Nashe.

If you’d like to wear your natural hair out but in a less shrunken state, you can twist your hair up every night, so that your hair stays stretched the entire day. You do want to avoid creams and any water-based products because it will shrink your hair.  

30 Natural Hair Shrinkage Inspiration That Proofs Shrinkage Can be Disrespectful Sometimes 

1) This hair is already pre-stretched with a wash and go so it only shrunk to about 50% of its length.

@igbocurls 

4c natural hair shrinkage

2) Blow out on product-free 4c hair.4c natural hair shrinkage

3) Shoulder length to waist length.

IG: Vannie3000

4c natural hair shrinkage

4) Wet curly hair vs. blown out dry hair.

4c natural hair shrinkage

5) Shrinkage on 4a hair.

4c natural hair shrinkage before and after

6) Type 3 hair doesn’t shrink up as much as type 4 hair does. 

4c natural hair shrinkage before and after

7) This is product-free hair that has been pat down to look much shorter than it looks. 

4c natural hair shrinkage before and after

8) Waist Length 4c Hair.

4c natural hair shrinkage before and after

9) As you can see, the more your hair shrinks, the more volume and fullness you get.

4a natural hair shrinkage before and after

10) Freshly washed hair can shrink up above the shoulder. Incase you start to feel discouraged about the length of your hair, all you need to do is to stretch your hair like @amekacoleman.

4c natural hair shrinkage before and after

11) Shrinkage on 4a hair. When shrinkage can be so disrespectful.

IG: @gigibellaa

4c natural hair shrinkage before and after

12) This is another example of extremely shrunken 4c hair patted down. 

4c natural hair shrinkage before and after

13) A quick blow out can give you the confidence that your 4c hair is growing.

4a natural hair shrinkage before and after

14) A quick visit to the salon can show how long your hair has grown. 

4b natural hair shrinkage

15) Heat applied to 4c hair can show its true length.

4a natural hair shrinkage before and after

16) Bra strap length shrunken hair 

4a natural hair shrinkage before and after

17) Straightened 4c hair shows no shrinkage at all. 

4b natural hair shrinkage

18) Only healthy hair shrinks. Also, adding a water-based moisturizing products to your hair will make your hair shrink overtime.

4a natural hair shrinkage

19) To see your true length, just pull your hair every once in a while.

4b natural hair shrinkage before and after

20) Applying heat to 4c hair, reduces shrinkage and its the best way to sop shrinkage temporarily. 

4b natural hair shrinkage

21) Neck length 4c hair can actually be waist length if you stretch it with heat.

IG: @livey_j

4a natural hair shrinkage

22) As you can see, product free and freshly washed natural hair has the tendency to look shrunken and shorter than usual.

4a natural hair shrinkage

23) The more you pass heat through your hair strands, the more stretched out it gets

4c natural hair shrinkage

24) Poofy or straight, you decide.

3b natural hair shrinkage

25) Shrinkage explains why natural hair tends to grow up, instead of growing down like straight hair. Again, think about springs and how it points up.

IG: @thekinkandi

minimize shrinkage in natural hair

26) Stretching natural hair by styling your hair immediately after a wash will reduce shrinkage.

IG: @westafricanbaby

stop shrinkage in natural hair

27) When you stretch 4c hair without heat, it only stretched about 25% more.

stop my natural hair from shrinking

28) Hip length 4c hair that looks like shoulder length when it’s shrunken

IG: @thefrotales

stretch natural hair without heat

29) TWA looking hair that’s actually shoulder length.

IG: @kenny_olapade

4c hair shrinkage

30) Waist-length hair can look shorter than what it actually looks like when the natural curls are shrunken. 

IG: petite.jhen

how do i stop shrinkage

As you can see, shrinkage isn’t a bad thing, it’s a sign of healthy hair. But you can choose to keep your hair stretched to show more of your hair length.