When African American hair gets wet—depending on how tightly wound your natural curls are—shrinkage can reduce your hair to a fraction of its full length. Here are some tips from CurlyNikki.com to show off the true length of your tresses.

Braid or twist hair in sections when wet. The beauty of this shrinkage-reducing technique is that braids or twists can be undone once your hair is completely dry. Leaves your hair with a beautiful texture, too.

Band tresses. Take a section of hair and secure with bands from the root to tip. This ensures your hair remains stretched as it dries. When tresses are completely dry, carefully remove bands and finish styling your hair.

Stretch hair and lightly blow-dry. Gently stretch sections of hair to the desired length. Put blow dryer on the warm setting and direct the air over your stretched-out tresses until the hair remains at the right length when you let go. (To avoid heat damage from blow-drying, don’t hold the dryer too close and never use the “hot” setting.)

Treat hair with TLC. Use natural oils such as avocado and shea butter to stretch curly hair. Apply oils to your hair as you twist or braid tresses to help maintain your hair’s length. Other treatments include dairy-based care using milk, yogurt, or sour cream. The common ingredient in all these treatments is lactic acid, which can be very effective at reducing shrinkage for some people. (And keep experimenting. To find the right natural treatment for your hair can take time.)

Click here for several secrets about how to grow long natural hair.