Junk Science: Anti - Shrinkage Hair Products

'Breathe, just breathe, now let us try and be objective.' If you have hair that shrinks, you may have given a massive eyeroll to the anti-shrinkage moniker on the au naturale products from Dark and Lovely. However let us attempt to be objective!

Q: What is shrinkage?

A: Shrinkage is a description of how curl formation causes hair length to decrease (perceptively rather than in fact). Here is a video, parlez vous Francais?

Q: Is decreasing shrinkage beneficial?

A: If your hair benefits from being in a stretched style or if it shrinks rapidly and tightly enough to cause tangling when washing, then you will benefit from a reduction in shrinkage.  However, if your hair is the clumping type, then you are in the opposite group and require products to enhance shrinkage and your natural curl (ergo, curl enhancing products do work by promoting shrinkage and increasing the weight of hair so it will hang downwards).

Q: Can a hair product decrease shrinkage?

A: No, certainly not in a way that a phyical method such as twisting, braiding, banding, African threading, roller setting etc would. A hair product can somewhat increase your hair's resistance to humidity and  slow down reversion of a straightened style. This is normally reliant on oil as the product or within the product and also on the exclusion of water

Q: Can Dark and Lovely's products actually decrease shrinkage?

A: I very much doubt it, not without the addition of the physical methods as listed in the prior question. My opinion is based on analysis of the ingredients and not on actual use. The company itself states that the au naturale line 'contains an anti -shrinkage recipe with mango oil and bamboo milk'

Here is the product label for the hair conditioner (latin names removed, some spelling corrected)


In my view, it looks like a pretty standard moisturising conditioner. My concern would be that the highlighted ingredients mango oil and bamboo milk are really far down in the list, which means they are very low in volume within the product. (Side note: What is FIL D158442/3). A further concern is that fragrance is listed high up (no. 4 after water). However, I will explain that in another article on another day as it is unrelated to the anti-shrinkage theme.

Q: Should you purchase this product?

If the ingredients are to your liking, you can do so and you will not be disappointed if you expect your hair to shrink when wet and it does.

This article was inspired by The Mane Captain who takes a different view point discussing whether you should really trust a relaxer company to produce products for natural hair .


  1. This was so awesome! I eye-roll every time I see an anti-shrinkage product...especially from a relaxer company. Reminds me of the BGLH article I did on relaxer companies that have released natural hair products. By and large, many of them still have not gotten it right. I'm tired of companies making promises that they know their products can't deliver.

  2. I'm surprised to see fragrance listed that high up, it's usually listed towards the end. Jenell of Kinky Curly Coily me did a review on the whole line, her hair came out just like any other product, though her review on the product isn't impressive for people to run out to go buy it. Truth is, most people will just read the label and not bother with the ingredients. I prefer my hair to be stretched out, as it's easier to handle. But I wouldn't buy any product to "deal" with shrinkage. thanks for the mention!

  3. It freaks me out that I can't find ANYTHING at all on "FIL D1588442/3." Googling it linked me back to you! You're the only English result! I don't think it's a could it be some patented bamboo extract product or processing method? Wouldn't that show up in a search? Hmmm...

    1. lol I googled it too and the only place it appeared was in the dark and lovely products. I even deconstructed it to try and search for just the numbers or part of the letters and numbers but I got nada!

    2. lol, ridiculous. Perhaps it's a special dark n lovely concoction?

  4. When it comes to Afro-textured hair, both shrinkage and frizz are facts of life. The sooner new naturals accept that, the easier their journey will be.

    I recently tried a "true" (as in, just left to dry on its own without stretching; yeah, I'm crazy) WNG using whipped shea butter and diluted Eco Styler olive oil gel on the theory that heavier products or product combos might result in less shrinkage. In fact I did get less shrinkage...by about a half-inch, if that. Maybe I should bottle this, eh? ;)

    Now that most of the developed world and an increasing chunk of the developing world has Internet access, there's no excuse to not find online product reviews...for ANYTHING, really.

  5. Nice article Jc! I read somewhere or someone told me that when fragrance is listed that far up on the list that it is used to mask the smell of a chemical in the product. I'm not impressed with this line at all. As an informed consumer, if mango oil and their unsearchable concoction of bamboo milk is what makes their product special then it needs to be in the first five ingredients and fragrance needs to be at the bottom. I agree with Amena BelledeSolieil they Lye!!


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