Tag Archives: managing natural hair

How to stretch your hair without using heat (updated).

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Shrinkage is no fun when hair becomes unmanageable, knotted and prone to breakage. Stretched hair is more pliable and easier to manage, plus, you get to show off more length.  When I first went natural I thought my only option was to blow dry my hair out, after every wash. Too much heat led to dry hair and slight heat damage. There are many methods of stretching the hair without having to rely on heat. Here are some old ideas revisited plus some new ones.

Shrinkage

Shrinkage

Braids and Twists

This is the most common method. Hair is put into medium to large braids or twists to wear in a stretched out style, such as a braid out or twist out.  If this is done after washing, larger twists or braids can be done and kept in overnight; this will be a quick way to stretch the hair for easier styling the next day.  If you do braids or twists on dry hair (other than a light spray of water), this will stretch the hair out even more.

Bandingbands

Purchase a packet of hair bands, preferably the seamless, snag proof ones.  After washing, divide hair into medium-sized sections (usually 8-10).  Then band each section, working from the roots to tips. Each band should be an inch or so apart. Here is a good tutorial on banding.

 I enjoyed this method but it was a little time-consuming. I have only tried it once.  It’s good for achieving a heatless blowout.  I found that it took a while to dry, especially the sections of hair covered by the bands.  Covering your head with a satin scarf will delay the drying further.  Leave your head uncovered and sleep on a  satin pillow case,  or cover your pillow with your satin scarf.

 Buns

After I take my hair down from a bun, it is always stretched out.  My hair is most stretched after being in a low bun.  I put my hair in a low ponytail, then  braid the ponytail and tuck it under into a bun.  This can be tricky with thick hair, so you can do two or three large braids to make it easier.  After taking down the bun and finger combing my hair slightly, my hair looks like a blowout.

You can also put your hair into two low buns after washing, and leave it overnight. This will stretch it out for the next day. Top knots, high buns and doughnut buns also work well for stretching the hair.

 Roller sets

Putting your hair in large rollers and sitting under a hooded dryer  (or air drying), leaves the hair stretched.  It may even look like it has been straightened or at least blown out.  Again, this may be time-consuming, but should leave you with stretched out hair for a week or even longer.

 Roll tuck and pin

A quick and convenient protective style, that can be done after washing.  If done after washing, your hair will be stretched when it is dry.  This can work with shorter hair as well, but it may require the use of more pins.  Invest in some strong hair pins!

Kimmaytube has a great tutorial on this.

 French braids

It is best to do this on damp hair that is more pliable.  If done on dry hair there may be too much manipulation involved, especially if your hair is in a shrunken state.  After taking your hair down from a French braid, it will be wavy and elongated, with a flat twist out appearance. You could do two French braids on either side, one large braid down the middle, or a bohemian braid around your head to frame your face.

french braid hair

 Heatless blowout

This can be achieved by finger combing your hair or gently using a wide tooth comb, after it has been in an old twist out or braid out. Or after it has been in curlformers, rollers or flexi rods. Before washing your hair you can wear it in as a blown out style without the use of heat.

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My heatless blowout

Stretching out your hair leads to greater manageability and less breakage when styling. The kinkier your hair is, the more you will benefit from wearing stretched out styles. It can also help to reduce single strand knots and  tangling.  How do you stretch out your hair? Share your ideas below.

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Just Juices and Berries

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olive-oil

I am not writing this to bash ‘product junkies’. I  like trying out new things and for some people that could be hair care products. However, I am noticing a lot more emphasis being placed on products, in the natural hair community. On forums, blogs, YouTube and social networking sites, I am seeing different women post questions about what products to use to address certain hair ‘problems’.  For example: what product can I use to stretch out my hair? What product can I use to soften my hair? What product can I use to make my hair grow? I am thinking about going natural, what products should I be using?

I can’t help but believe that we are reverting back to the old mindset, that we simply need a magical product to make our hair perfect! This is opposed to simply learning how to manage our hair properly. Isn’t that how relaxers were presented to the black community, for decades? Relaxers, perms and texturizers were supposed to be magical products that would ‘fix’ our hair and take away all our hair problems.

This quick fix mindset is based on an unwillingness to do research and educate ourselves about our hair. It is quite concerning to see some women obsessing about products before they have even gone natural. This makes going natural a lot harder than it needs to be and I can imagine why some women find the concept quite daunting. When I first went natural I was living in the UK and most of the products mentioned on the internet were only available in the US. So I didn’t have access to a great number of products. To be honest the last thing I was thinking about was products because 99% of products in my local beauty supply contained harmful ingredients. I had learned about them through doing my research. I came to realize that most of the products I used when my hair was relaxed had sulphates, petroleum, silicones, alcohol, harsh perfumes parabens and other chemicals that I couldn’t even pronounce. It’s funny to see that those same black hair companies are now jumping on the natural bandwagon and releasing natural product ranges, to cater to the natural hair community. It’s good to see that they are taking notice and shows that we have a powerful voice.

productjunkie

However, due to the lack of quality hair care products at the time, I was only concerned about the benefits of natural ingredients. I learned about Shea butter, the benefits of plain water, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and aloe vera juice. This made my life a lot simpler and I wasn’t bombarded with the many products that are on the market today. I was able to focus on learning to manage my hair, and to this day I personally haven’t found a product that holds my twist outs as well as pure Shea butter does.  I haven’t found a product that moisturizes my hair as well as water does and I stretch my hair out by simply braiding or twisting it. A product by itself will not make your hair grow any faster or longer. Protective styling, moisturizing and being gentle with your hair will help you to retain length.

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Of course I enjoy trying out new products from time to time and learning about different products can be part of your natural hair journey. However, when all else fails, I go back to my simple usage of water for moisturizing, oil for sealing in the moisture and my Shea butter for styling.  I’m not against products and I’m happy to see many black owned companies becoming successful. However, there is no product out there that will magically ‘fix’ your hair. You simply need to learn how to manage it properly. Some of us need to learn how to manage our hair with simple ‘juices and berries’ instead of looking for a magical product that simply doesn’t exist. We also need to consider being healthy overall; diet, exercise and water consumption can also affect our hair. Products can only enhance your hair, not make it into something it is not. ALL  hair  textures are beautiful, with or without the use of different products. Keep it simple when going natural and learn the important basics that will benefit you well into the future.

What do you think? Is there an obsession with products? Share your thoughts and ideas below.