With certain hair types, hair that becomes wet and can shrink up to above the ears, depending on how tight the natural curl pattern is. For decades, many African Americans and people with curly hair types have chemically relaxed their hair to straighten it for manageability. However chemicals, such as lye, used to straighten the hair make it weak and damage it over time. If you choose to wear a natural Afro, use one of several techniques to help prevent shrinkage.
Groom your Afro in a twist out style. Use a comb to part your dry hair in sections. Clip each section separately to keep sections in order as you work. The smaller the sections the deeper the waves will be once you finish. Spray a fine mist on one section using a water bottle. Apply an appropriate moisturizing hair dress from the root to tip. Twist or braid the hair. Avoid getting the hair completely saturated, since an abundance of water is what causes shrinkage to begin with. Allow the hair to dry completely, preferably overnight. Untwist it and fluff it out with your hands.
Blow dry the hair. Part the hair into sections. Use your hand to stretch the hair. Pass a warm blow dryer with a diffuser attachment back and forth over the length of the hair, until it doesn’t shrink back. Avoid holding the blow dryer too close to the scalp or your working hand, to avoid burning yourself.
Treat the hair with moisturizers on a regular basis. Natural oil, such as shea butter or avocado butter help the hair to retain moisture and gives the hair a more defined curl pattern, which will keep your Afro from shrinking. Apply a generous amount of oil to freshly shampooed hair before styling it.
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Set the hair in rollers. Part the hair into sections. Put setting lotion on the section and roll the hair on the largest roller you can possibly use. Allow it to set overnight and unroll. Use your fingers to manipulate the hair into an Afro shape.
Cover your hair at night with a satin bonnet to keep the hair from matting to the head as you sleep. In the morning, spray on leave-in conditioner and fluff the Afro out, using your hands coated in coconut oil. This keep the hair well-moisturized and givers it a healthy sheen.
Consider getting a texturizer to chemically loosen the natural curl of you hair without straightening it. It will keep the Afro from shrinking and it may make it more manageable to groom.
Nicole Whitney started freelance writing in 2008, with articles published on various websites. She has worked as a spa therapist and consultant. She participates in a volunteer program and writes on subjects related to the beauty industry. She graduated from the International School of Skin, Nails and Massage in Atlanta.