The shrunken afro has been marketed as a protective style but is there another side to the story?
A shrunken afro certainly ticks some of the boxes of protective styling as it keeps your hair off your shoulders and clothes. However, depending on your hair type this style is more a ‘frenemy’ than a friend!
If you have 4a, 4b and sometimes 3c hair then a shrunken afro can do you more harm than good. Very curly hair when left to its own devices after a wash will shrink to as low as 50% of its true length. With such tight curls they unfortunately have a tendency to curl up on themselves forming the evil single strand knots. Single strand knots are when a single hair forms a knot usually in the bottom couple of inches of the strand.
Now granted, it is not possible to completely eliminate single strand knots if you have natural hair but excessive single strand knots are a sign that your regimen needs to be adjusted. Not to mention that your ends feel rough even when your hair is straightened smooth.
Shrunken afro’s also produce ‘regular sized’ knots, and in abundance! These are the ones that get caught in your comb when you are attempting to detangle. Sometimes the hair gets so knotted that frustration can ensue causing you to rip through the knot tearing your hair out in the process. However even for the very patient among us, only a pair of scissors will remove the knot sometimes. It makes you think that you may as well bypass the shrunken afro all together and just start hacking at your hair with a sharp pair of scissors!
For those reasons, a shrunken afro is probably the worst way to ‘protect’ your hair. When there are so many other protective style options, shrunken afros are best left on the shelf.