Patience is not a characteristic that many naturals possess. Many people want long hair quickly and the dreaded shrinkage of natural hair can be the bane of a curly girls existence. Many curly girls pull, stretch, and find different styling methods to show the length of their hair.
First, let me say that shrinkage is great. It’s an indicator that you have strong, healthy hair. If you pull your hair and it springs back without breaking, it’s a sign of great strength and elasticity. Also, keep in mind that fighting against shrinkage can really damage your hair especially if too much heat or tension is applied to your hair and scalp. So use the following methods of stretching your curls with caution.
This may sound like a “duh” statement but if you simply thoroughly detangle your hair in the conditioning and styling process, you will have more stretched curls. When hair isn’t fully detangled, it may mat up and tangle around itself, causing shrinkage.
Blow Dry Roots
I would advise using any heat with caution. Blow drying your roots can be a quick and easy method of stretching your curls. After washing or wetting your hair, let it air dry until it’s about 85-90% dry. Lightly tug on your hair and blow dry the roots on medium heat. Don’t blow dry them straight, just enough to stretch your curls slightly.
Banding works by using ponytail holders to stretch out freshly washed, damp/wet hair. The hair is divided into sections then the holders are wound tightly down the section from root to tip so that the hair stays stretched as it dries. If you are going to try this method, be sure to use tangle free, ouch-less pony tail holders made without the metal piece that can snag your strands. Be careful with this one because it can lead to breakage and thinning edges if too much tension is applied to hair.
Pulling your hair into a high bun, especially when it’s slightly damp will stretch your curls. Make sure to use the type of pony tail holders mentioned earlier and the bun is tight enough to pull your hair and loose enough as to avoid creases.
Thread is wrapped around the base of a section of hair. Thread is wrapped around the entire length of hair from root to tip using a special technique. Be careful of this technique as well as it can lead to breakage and thinning edges if too much tension is applied to hair.
Twist and Braids
Doing a twist-out or braid out will stretch your curls to that shape. Braids create a little more stretch or tension than twist given a little extra length. This is the method I use to stretch my curls. For the maximum length you can braid or twist your hair after a blow-out or after the high bun method when curls are 75% dry.
Rollers, flexi rods, curlformers, and straw sets are all methods you can use to stretch your kinks, with or without heat. You can air dry or sit under a hooded dryer for straighter results or air dry for a healthier method.
What’s your favorite method for stretching your curls?