5 Ways to Stretch Natural Hair March 15 2018 1 Comment
If you’re hearing about stretching your natural hair for the first time, it may seem like a contradiction. After all, the point of having natural hair is for the curls, right? Well, yes. But stretching your hair will help increase manageability.
It’s a way of temporarily loosening the curl pattern to control tangles during the week. You may find that it helps you moisturize and style too because you can get your fingers through it quicker.
When your hair isn’t manageable, it can be time-consuming and lead to breakage. You might even enjoy your natural hair journey more because your hair is much easier to deal with when it’s stretched. Plus, stretching it will allow you to retain length and avoid damage to your ends.
But how do you do it, and which stretching methods will best suit your lifestyle? It’s a good idea to get an overview of the techniques so you can see which one you want to add to your routine.
Here is a list of five of the most popular ways to stretch natural hair. Each method has instructions too, so you can decide which ones you want to try for your regimen.
Twists are probably the easiest of stretching methods because you only need to weave two strands at a time. You can part your hair in as many sections as you want, depending on how you want it to look and how much time you have.
Big sections will be faster to do, and the manipulated curl pattern will be bigger. However, larger twists will give you less control over frizz.
To do the twists, part a small section of hair and separate it with your fingers. Apply a heavy curl cream or a light leave-in conditioner and twist the two strands together until you reach the end. Repeat the technique with more sections.
Getting a nice manipulated curl pattern after the hair dries is one of the best things about twists. They turn into twist-outs, and you can easily have a curly hairstyle to wear for 2-3 days. Remove the twists when they’re fully dry to make the twist-out.
Braids are slightly more difficult to do than twists because they require three strands instead of two. However, braiding will stretch your natural hair more than twists since the pattern is tighter and more controlled. In fact, your hair will probably look longer with braids than it does with twists.
Like twist-outs, braids will also give you a braid-out style to wear for a few days. However, braid-outs won’t give you a uniformed look because the strands are facing several directions. So, if you’re looking for a uniformed coil pattern, you may want to choose twists for your stretching method instead.
To do braids, part a small section of hair. Apply curl cream or leave-in conditioner, then separate the section into three, and make a braid. Continue with more sections of hair.
Remove the braids when they’re dry to make the braid-out hairstyle. This stretching method is an ideal starter for low and high buns.
Banding is a popular way to stretch natural hair. It involves placing several bands around each section of hair. You may find that this stretching method takes longer to dry than twisting and braiding because you’re using an additional item—the band.
The band tends to absorb moisture during the process, and you’ll need to wait for it to dry to finish the stretching. Also, the thicker the band, the longer it will take to dry.
To do banding, part a small section of hair, and wrap a band around your hair at the root. Then place a second, third, and maybe a fourth band lower down on the section. You may need more or less bands, depending on the length of your hair. Continue this method until your entire head is done.
Banding allows you to stretch the hair, but it is not without drawbacks. Using bands to stretch your hair frequently may lead to breakage as you’ll need to pull them from your hair. Aim to avoid using elastic bands, as these could lead to breakage. Instead, make sure your bands are made of a soft, stretchy material.
Try using Snappees as an alternative for your banding technique. Snappees are made of a nylon material that is similar to the texture of yoga pants. They’re soft, and you’ll be able to snap them on and off instead of pulling them from your hair.
4. African Threading Method
This stretching method is probably the most effective of all techniques. In fact, it has even been touted as a way to straighten natural hair without using heat or chemicals.
This method can stretch natural hair well, but it also requires the most time and effort. To do the African threading method, you’ll need either a spool of thread or several strips of pantyhose.
Part your hair into a small section and apply curl cream or a leave-in conditioner. Then, wrap the thread or pantyhose around the section until it is completely covered. Tie or tuck the material at the end to make sure it won’t unravel.
This method requires a lot of drying time because you’re covering every section of hair with material. It may even take a full 48 hours before you can unwrap the hair.
But be careful about unwrapping too early. Removing the thread while the hair is still damp will mean that the stretching is not quite finished.
5. Bantu Knots
Bantu knots are probably the most protective of all stretching methods because you get to tuck the ends into the rest of your hair. Guarding the ends will allow you to grow your hair longer and healthier.
Plus, they don’t require bands or any other material, so they’ll cause less friction than both banding and the African threading method.
To make bantu knots, part a section of hair and apply curl cream or a light leave in conditioner. Twist the entire section with your fingertips until it coils onto itself. Then tuck the end into the rest of the hair to form the knot. Continue with more sections until done.
Doing these stretching styles frequently will allow you to manage your hair better and keep it less tangled during the week.
All stretching methods are protective in nature because they allow you to partially or fully cover the ends. You’ll be able to grow your hair longer and healthier if you allow your hair to sit in a protective style for at least two days of the week.
Now it’s your turn to discuss. Which methods have you used to stretch your natural hair, and did you like the results?