While shrinkage in natural hair can be a sign of good hair health, many of us like to get the most out of our styles and limit the shrinkage by stretching our hair for more volume and / or length. Luckily, because natural hair is so versatile there are many ways to do so. In this list are nine ways to stretch natural hair and reduce shrinkage. You can try these methods either before bed or the day of wearing your style for the best results.
1) BIG BANTU KNOTS
After you have applied your hair products, part your hair into four sections and twist each section into a big bantu knot. These help to stretch the hair and create a big loose curl. Additionally, this way to stretch natural hair works better on wet hair to allow the product to fully absorb. You can do this style either before bed or the day of.
2) A PUFF / PINEAPPLE
Putting your hair in a pineapple overnight or while your hair is still drying is another effective way to stretch natural hair and reduce shrinkage. The hair strands are being stretched over your head, elongating the curl pattern. Use a satin scarf to tie your hair up to preserve moisture and shine.
3) BANDING METHOD
You have probably heard of the banding method. It is a heatless method of stretching natural hair, helping to leave it elongated for days. Part the hair into 4-8 sections (depending on the style you are going for). Take a few soft fabric hair bands and wrap them around each section almost like a braid. This method of stretching natural hair produces the best results when taken down after the hair has finished drying.
4) BLOW DRYER AT THE ROOTS
This method involves heat, but it works just as well on a cool setting. It also works on either damp or dry hair. Gently hold a section of hair at the roots and angle the blow dryer air downwards. This causes the hair cuticle to expand and lengthen.
5) CHUNKY TWISTS OR BRAIDS
Although twist-outs and braid-outs are stretched / protective styles, putting your hair in big braids or chunky twists while your style is air-drying or leaving them in overnight can also help to reduce shrinkage and keep your hair detangled.
6) START ON AN OLD STYLE
Starting on already stretched hair maybe from an old twist-out, can help to limit shrinkage. Re-doing your protective / stretched styles on already stretched hair additionally elongates the curl pattern and creates more volume.
7) START ON DRY HAIR
While you may not get as much definition, you’ll get the volume and less shrinkage starting your styles on dry hair. You don’t even necessarily have to apply heat to it, just let it air dry overnight, or try a heatless blow-out. Doing twist-outs or braid-outs on already dry hair will give a full, voluminous fluffy look.
8) LESS TWISTS FOR TWISTS-OUTS
Another way to reduce shrinkage for your styles is to use less twists or braids for your twist-outs and braid-outs. This gives you more volume and reduces shrinkage, but less definition as well. It all depends on the particular style you are going for.
9) TAKE DOWN STRETCHED STYLES ONLY WHEN FULLY DRY
Another tip for how to stretch natural hair is to take down your styles after your hair has fully dried. Since water / moisture is what brings out our natural curl pattern, it causes it to shrink up to its full form. Taking down your hairstyles without fully drying or at least almost dry, can make it shrink back up as it tries to absorb product.