"The LORD is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?"

- Psalms 27 : 1

Monday, March 28, 2011

Focus on...Stretching


Having easily shrunken hair quickly makes stretching an important part of a hair regimen.
  That's exactly the case with natural kinky hair.
 Ask any natural or do some experimenting yourself or you might have noticed yourself, our hair tends to shrink, whether be after a wash or while wearing a twist out.

Personally, my hair regimen is not based on stretching my hair, and it shouldn't be so for other naturals either, but stretching no matter how small is not only great for styling, but also for the overall health of the hair.

Now, according to the New Oxford American Dictionary stretching is : 
(of something soft or elasticbe made or be capable of being madelonger or wider without tearing or breaking
Okay. So every natural, practices a form of stretching no matter how insignificant it may seem and every natural does it for one reason or the other. And since our hair textures are all different and some naturals have looser/tighter curls than the next natural diva, well not everyone needs stretching or at least to the same degree. 

Here are some reasons why stretching should become part of your natural hair regimen :

Styling : that's pretty much the main reason why most of us stretch our hair. It's easier to style stretched hair than it is to do shrunken hair. Not only does it make the style neater and last longer but it makes the task much more easier. Apart from making the task easier, there are a lot of looks that can only (depending on the length of the hair) be achieved on stretched hair, for example, buns, a pompadour etc.

Detangling : this is a very important reason why many naturals stretch their hair. Stretching makes detangling so much easier and helps avoid unnecessary damage while detangling. Detangling stretched hair is a total breeze, no doubt!

Knots : Every natural knows them and just want to keep them at bay (well, at least I hope so). This is my second main reason for stretching : knots. Stretched strands are not as entwined as shrunken hair. This reduces the chance of getting into a knotty situation and at the same time, reduces the chances of breakage.

Length Check : Some naturals stretch their hair as far as it can go to find out how long their hair has grown during a certain time frame.

Those are the main reasons why we stretch our hair.
Now, what are the different methods used to stretch the hair?

Banding : banding is a widely applied and easy method to stretch the hair. It consists parting the hair into sections and banding each sections with multiple hair bands (without metal clamps please). Here is a great post by Kiianah on banding.

Flat twisting, two strand twisting and braiding : is one of the easiest way to quickly stretch your hair. Though it's effective, to get great lasting results, it is better to twist/braid very small parts at a time and to leave them in for a few days. Big twists/braids do not stretch the hair so much but do give a great stretched look while maintaining a beautiful coily texture. Personally, this is how I stretch my hair and since I always wear protective styles (twists) in between watches my hair is  always stretched when I take out my styles.

Heat : this is another way of stretching the hair in which a blow dryer or a flat iron  is used to stretch the strands but not only does this method stretch, it also changes the hair texture and makes the strands straight. Though it is really effective and makes length check easier, this method also comes with it's woes : heat damage. It's alarming to know how many naturals have suffered or are suffering from it. If you are using heat, please inform yourself and protect your hair as much as you can.

Since that's all said and done, here are some facts about stretching

- The amount of stretch you get depends on the method used.

- Stretching is reversible. If you wear your hair stretched, during the day, your hair will slowly start shrinking again (does not apply to hair that has been stretched using heat)

- You don't have to use heat to get mega stretched hair. I have obtained really stretched hair with small flat twists (left in for a day or even a few hours)

- You temporarily (if there is no heat damage) get straight hair if heat is used to stretch

- Water makes the hair shrink like crazy. That's why I start stretching immediately I finish washing. But please using a moisturizer does not make your hair shrink dramatically so please do moisturize!

- There a few products that help make stretching easier

...And some tips 
- If you want to keep your stretched look for the next day, flat twist or braid hair tightly (not so tight) in at least 6 parts before going to bed.

- Do not wash your hair yet is you are not ready to part with your stretched look

- Use a heat protectant before using heat

- Do not play in your hair is you want to keep your hair stretched

 I personally do not have a preference between stretched or shrunken hair. I didn't used to stretch before but I had to start as my hair grew longer, to make styling easier and keep knots away. I just thank God He has made our way so versatile and I can choose to wear a stretched look one day and a funky shrunken twist out another!

Do share your experiences, suggestions, additions and love!

God bless you all richly!


  1. Great post Funbi! I have yet to actually try the "banding technique" itself. I've seen some girls get superior definition from banding the hair, similair to a chunky twist out and I personally love the look! I would love to see how you perform the method ;)

  2. Thanks sis!! I myself have not tried it yet but from what you've said, it sounds like it yields great results. To stretch my hair, all I do is flat twist! Again, thanks!

  3. Great post!

    I wear stretched syles 90% of the time for style, greater ease in detangling and knot prevention. I don't see why a naturals hair regimen shouldn't be based on stretching hair...

    Here are the stretching methods I've heard of:
    -single braids, cornrows and braid-n-curls
    -single twists, flat twists and twist-n-curls
    -bantu knots
    -roller sets

    -If you want to preserve the stretched style, wear a shower cap when taking a shower.
    -You can try pineappling to preserve a stretched style. Here's a vid on it: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QiiuV3PNHLA)

  4. Awesome posting! I've been working on my length for awhile and I'm hoping, with some of your tips, I can have a "Boss Afro."

  5. @ mangomadness : Thanks sis!! YES! Bantu knots and toller sets are also a great way to stretch!! Thank xou so much for your input sis!

    @ charish : Thank you so much! I am sure you will soon get to wear your "Boss Afro"!

  6. Quick Tip:
    When you are wearing twists and they are not stretched, they tend to tangle easily, especially after laying down. The best way to keep the ends knot free is to stretch them. There are several ways by which this can be done. Napptural85 on youtube did an awesome video using bobby pins to wrap her twists. They can also be braided, bunned or flat-twisted every night before you go to bed

  7. Thanks sis for the tip! I see your point!!

  8. This info has given me hope for dealing with my natural hair, as shrinkage and easy tangling and knotting is my main problem. Thanks so much! I will try stretching my hair now. I have hope!


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