Why does my hair compress after I shower? If you’re a girl with Type 4 curly or kinky hair, this is a question you may ask yourself. It can be frustrating, especially if you want to show off the length you’ve been working so hard to grow. You want to rock your natural hair, but at the same time, you’d appreciate a bit of extra length.
Written by Nicola Sloan
Hair compression after a shower typically happens to those with type 4 hair and is a sign that your hair is able to retain moisture. There are some techniques that can help to reduce the compression of natural hair.
Why Does My Hair Compress After I Shower?
Hair compression, or shrinking, although it can be frustrating, is completely natural and actually a good sign. It shows your hair is healthy and can retain moisture well.
Compression usually happens after your hair gets wet from washing, but it can also happen through sweating or being in high humidity.
The tighter your coils are, the more likely you are to experience shrinkage, and the more shrinkage you are likely to have.
Those with type 4 hair see the most shrinkage compared to type 3 hair. Some women only experience about 20% compression, while some can experience more like 75%.
Hair compression after a shower really just means that your cuticles absorb moisture well.
When this happens, your hair will naturally curl into its natural state.
If your natural hair does not shrink when wet, it could be a sign that your hair is heat-damaged. Or it may mean that your hair is low porosity, and has trouble absorbing water.
Which Hair Types Compress After A Shower?
Type 4 hairstyles are the most prone to compression after a shower. Curl patterns like 1a,b,c do not compress when getting wet. The general rule is, that the curlier or kinkier the hair, meaning the tighter your coils are, the more compression you will experience.
While compression is a good sign for your hair, you may still want to stretch your hair, so you can enjoy the length you have.
Stretching your hair can also be a good way to help prevent tangles and breakage. Naturally kinky or curly hair can have a tendency to twist around itself causing tangles and knots.
Some believe that stretching your hair helps it to grow more as it needs to be detangled less.
How To Combat Hair Compression After A Shower
There are a few methods you could use if you want to stretch your hair after a shower:
1 – Banding Method
Banding is one of the most popular methods to stop your hair from compressing after you shower.
It is achieved by using hairbands to stretch out freshly washed hair.
Divide your hair into sections, and using large hairbands, wind the bands around the section from root to tip.
Avoid using elastic style bands as these can damage the hair and cause snagging.
Leave the bands in while your hair dries.
2 – Style Your Hair In A Ponytail Or Bun
One of the easiest and fastest ways to avoid hair compression after a shower is to put your hair in a bun or ponytail. This helps to stretch out your hair.
Leave your hair up for at least a couple of hours, depending on how long or thick your hair is, then comb out to see the transformation.
This method works because a low bun or ponytail will create less tension on the hair. Don’t wrap the ponytail too tight or you will end up with straighter roots and curlier ends.
This is also a good way to stretch your hair while maintaining a textured look.
3 – Protect Your Hair Against Frizz
Curly hair tends to get a lot more frizzy than straight hair. This is because the natural oils on your scalp which travel down the hair strand to moisturize the hair has further to go.
This is why you often see people with straight hair have shinier and glossier hair. To help battle frizz, use anti-frizz products such as creams or gels. These kinds of hair products work great to help you maintain your curly locks and keep them moisturized.
Check out this easy beginner’s guide to the Curly Girl Method if you’re looking for a natural way to maintain your curls.
4 – Section And Twist
Another easy way to combat hair compressing is to section and twist your hair in the shower.
Divide your hair into sections and put it into individual twists. Wash and condition each section individually.
Only take out a twist when it’s time to apply shampoo, conditioner or deep conditioner, or for rinsing.
Your hair will be less likely to shrink if you keep it in twists while it’s wet or damp. This can apply to styling too: only take one twist out at a time to style your hair.
5 – Bantu Knot Method
Similar to the banding method, Bantu knots are another very popular way of stretching the hair and are a style all in themselves. They are best done on damp or dry hair, as wet Bantu knots will not dry out properly.
It’s a matter of taking small sections of hair and twisting them around towards the bottom, like mini corkscrews.
Tuck the end of the hair under the knot so it is secured, maybe using a bobby pin if they won’t stay in place.
This sounds simple in theory but you may need to practice to get the hang of the technique. Leave overnight or to dry.
Bantu knot-out is when you release the curls. Separate them with your fingers or with a wide toothed comb.
Then gently fluff out to cover the scalp and arrange the curls so they look natural.
6 – Blow Dry Your Roots
If you feel okay about using heat on your hair, you could try the method of blow drying your roots to make them straight.
This will help elongate the overall length of the hair. Wait until your hair is about 85% dry and then blow-dry the roots on medium heat.
You don’t need to blow dry the roots straight; just enough to stretch your hair a little and give it extra length.
7 – Give Your Hair A Complete Blow Out
Another heat-based method you could try is giving your hair a full blow out.
This is a great technique if you want to show off your length and combat hair compression after a shower.
This method will give you maximum length by temporarily straightening your curl pattern.
Always make sure though, when doing a blow out, that you deep condition and use heat protection first. You don’t want to damage your hair that you’ve worked so hard to grow.
Products To Use If Your hair Compresses After A Shower
1 – Natural Butters
Products that keep your curls elongated are a simple remedy for hair compression after you shower.
Choose butters that contain nourishing ingredients that will moisturize and strengthen your hair strands.
A favorite is this certified organic Shea butter from Naissance. It is unrefined (which makes for the best butter), vegan and fragrance-free. You can even leave this in overnight for a deep treatment.
2– Apply Aloe Vera Gel Before Styling
Aloe vera gel is a great natural ingredient for your hair. Did you know it is one of the only substances that you can use instead of water?
The hydration from aloe vera penetrates the hair shaft in the same way that water does. This is something that many oils are not able to, except for some like hazelnut oil.
Aloe vera helps to smooth your hair and can aid in reducing shrinkage if you apply it before using your styling products.
This 100% Organic Aloe Vera Gel from Seven Minerals is harvested from freshly cut aloe leaves and doesn’t contain any of the bad ingredients that low-quality aloe vera gel may have.
Aloe will smooth and elongate your curls naturally.
3– Treat Hair With Oils On A Regular Basis
Another great method is to use wonderfully hydrating natural oils, such as coconut, shea butter or avocado oil.
These amazing oils are packed with nutrients and help to lock in your hair’s moisture. Locking in the moisture in this way gives your hair a more defined curl pattern, which helps to combat hair compression after you shower.
Try any of these oils/butters to help combat hair compression after a shower:
4 – Sleep In A Satin Bonnet To Avoid Compression
Sleeping in a satin bonnet will help prevent your hair from clumping together and shrinking at the same time, as well as help to protect it from frizz.
The YANIBEST Satin Bonnet Double Layer Sleep Cap is very popular within the curly community.
Embrace Your Hair Compression!
Remember, compression of your hair after you shower isn’t a bad thing. It’s actually a really good sign and shows that your hair can retain moisture and isn’t damaged. Plus, it’s a very natural phenomenon for curly textures.
It can be frustrating if you want to show off the length you’ve been working so hard to grow. But compression is natural and a sign of your hair’s health.
So why not embrace it?
A great way of looking at your hair’s tendency to compress after you shower is it makes type 4 hair very versatile. You are able to style your hair in many different ways and that’s really the beauty of having curls.
Disclaimer: This site is not intended to provide professional or medical advice. All of the content on LovedByCurls.com is for informational purposes only. All advice should be followed at your own discretion. Ingredients may change at any time so always check the product label before using.