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February 11, 2014

Stretch and Soften Natural Hair... Naturally!


If you have curls, coils or waves then you are probably very familiar with the term shrinkage. Most of us have it but the problem arises when your shoulder length hair turns into a TWA. As cute as the TWA look is, if you’ve worked hard to get the length, then you probably want to show it off from time to time. Here are some ways to stretch your coils and show off that length!

Read On for More Tips>>>


Banding
This method is great for stretching the hair without straightening it since it’s simple to do and doesn’t involve heat of any kind. All you will need are some small seamless hair bands. Start off by separating a small section of your hair and loosely securing the rest of your hair so that it does not get in the way. Then take your first hair band and secure it at the base of your hair. Take the next one and secure it around the same section about an inch above the first hair band. Continue to do this all the way to the end or leave about  2 inches of hair at the end to preserve the curl pattern if you are trying to stretch a wash and go or braid/twist-out.

It’s important to note that if you’re using this method to dry your hair or stretch it for a style like twists, then you should detangle first to remove any knots and ensure that the hair gets as stretched as it can. However, if you are using this method to stretch a wash and go or other style, then do not detangle before hand and try to do very little to manipulate the hair in order to maintain your curl pattern. Lastly, remember that the closer together the hair bands the more stretched the hair will be.

Plaiting
Begin by separating a small section of your hair and tying off the rest loosely. Then take that smaller section and loosely braid it all the way to the end, or leave about  2 inches of hair at the end to preserve the curl pattern if you are trying to stretch a wash and go or braid/twist-out. I to do this method on an old wash and go that has already lost most of its definition because it tends to distort my curl pattern and change my wash and go coils into braid out waves. Therefore, if you want to maintain your curl pattern, then ensure that you braid very loosely.

Try as we might, there will come a time in our life when our hair gets as dry and as hard as a brick. This is our hair’s way of crying out for some special treatment, so every now and again we should set aside some spa time for our hair and consider using one of the following conditioning treatments, many of which have a 'softening' side effect.

Caramel Treatment
The humectants in this treatment draw moisture from the atmosphere and into your hair to make it softer and more manageable. Some women also claim that it even elongates and loosens their curls, but I didn’t get that same result. For this treatment you will need:
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 3 jars of banana baby food (it is important to use this as pureed bananas can be very hard to wash out…trust me)
  • 1/4 cup of Blackstrap molasses
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil (or any other oil of your choice)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • An applicator brush
Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl or use a mixer to speed it up. Using an applicator brush, apply the mixture to damp hair in sections just like you would a relaxer. Ensure that you do not manipulate your hair as the mixture is thick and trying to comb out your hair with it in can cause damage.  Cover your hair with a shower cap and leave the treatment in for 30 minutes or overnight for the full effect. Afterwards, rinse your hair thoroughly with warm water and use a sulfate free shampoo and moisturizing conditioner to ensure that you have all of it out of your hair. Make sure you refrigerate any left-overs to save for next time.

Cherry Lola
For those of you who don’t already know, the Cherry Lola treatment was created by a blogger of the same name. She figured that since hair is just protein and protein is made from amino acids, the remedy for damaged hair should involve putting the protein back into it. That is where the liquid amino acid comes in. Whether or not the science behind it is valid, I do not know, but what I do know is that many women, including myself, who have tried the treatment have noticed softer, curlier more manageable hair with slight curl loosening. All you will need is:
  • 2 cups of organic plain yogurt
  • 10 tbsp of Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids (this can be found at most health food stores near the soy sauce)
  • 2 ½ -3 tbsp of baking soda or enough to aerate it and turn it foamy
Mix the yogurt and the liquid amino acid, then add the baking soda and allow it to sit until it rises and becomes foamy. Ensure that your hair is nice and clean then apply it to sections of it and allow it to sit for 20 to 40 minutes. Rinse your hair clean and follow up with a co-wash just to ensure that all the treatment is out.

It’s important to note that some women use a lot less Braggs and baking soda (about 2 tablespoons of each) than Miss Lola and leave the treatment in for less time (about 15 minutes) to avoid protein overload. I followed the original directions and suffered no ill effects, but my hair loves protein.
The measurements and instructions are taken from her video found here.

Ayurveda
Henna and cassia have long since been talked about in the natural hair community for their ability to loosen curl patterns to give the hair more hang time, and for their ability to soften hair and give it brilliant shine. CurlyNikki is often thought of as the queen on henna and has a great method outlined on her blog as well as a pictorial.

Coconut milk Treatment
When the topic of curl loosening or softening is brought up, the coconut milk treatment is almost always mentioned because of its effectiveness. This treatment can be done using ingredients probably already in your pantry and it really softens the hair. I have tried this treatment many times. and each and every time I’m left with really soft hair. So if you are interested in doing this treatment then you will need:
  • A can of coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp of honey
  • 2 tbsp of coconut oil or any other oil of your choice
  • 4 tbsp plain organic yoghurt
  • The juice of one lime
  • Cornstarch to thicken
Mix all of the ingredients except for the cornstarch in a bowl thoroughly. Then slowly add cornstarch a half teaspoon at a time until the mixture thickens to your liking to avoid application from being a runny mess. Then apply to freshly washed hair in sections. Leave it in for 30 minutes then use a sulfate free shampoo and conditioner to rinse it out and style your hair like you usually do.

So just remember that when your hair shrinks up and decides to fight back the answer is merely a hair band away or tucked away in your pantry.

How do you like to stretch your coily hair?


CN Says:
Full fat yogurt pre-poos (15 minutes before my wash, mixed with a conditioner) not only help the detangling process, but clumps and stretches my curls a bit post wash.  Please, PLEASE wash it out thoroughly or your dry curls will smell of assvomit. I also find that henna loosens my tight s-waves in the front and sides of my head but the 'O' shaped coils in the back are left #OnAndPopping.  Of course, damp or dry twist and braid-outs are probably the best way to achieve a bigger/more elongated curl, albeit short lived. Good luck and have fun with the versatility! 

CN Also Says:
Curlformers are a great way to achieve looser curls between wash sessions.  It serves as an amazing primer for protective styles and dope twist and braid-outs.  The bun I rocked for the NAACP Image Award Luncheon was achieved after stretching with the rollers and then twisting.  

43 Chime in!:

Caramelcurls said...

My hair stretches pretty easily by braiding it (about 8-9 braids) all over on dry hair. After I let is set for 5-6 hours, it looks like blow dried hair.

I want to that coconut milk treatment just for the heck of it---it would be a nice hair treat!

Brooke B. said...

I like doing henna gloss treatments sometimes, but when I don't have the time I put 10 twist on my head & stretch them to the opposite sides & secure with a bobby pin. When I wake & I release my twist they're elongated with a nice curl pattern.

sam said...

So why not just straighten your hair if you're so concerned with "stretching" and "loosening" your hair??? I sometimes feel this is just a holdover of the idea that we have to "fix" and manipulate kinky hair to make it look good.

KitKat said...

Another product that elongates the curl is Capilo Grape Seed extract hair intensive treatment. The first time it was applied to my hair, I thought my aunt had mixed relaxer with the conditioner(she can/could be like that), but it was the Capilo.
In her salon my aunt would use this for client(s) who were curly and wanted to have a straight look without a relaxer or excessive heat. She claimed using this was the only way to blow dry naturals quickly.
This will not silken the hair, it will only give the curl more hangtime and take the poof/volume out of the hair. One more thing, this treatment has been known to leave the hair a touch dry, so don't count on this to be super moisturizing (at least it wasn't for me).

Toya said...

I would love to wear my hair in a very low manipulation state such as a wash-and-go, but my hair becomes very tangled that way. I've found that stretching my hair is the best way to prevent single strand knots. So for me it's not because my hair looks good in one state or the other, it's just a matter of doing what's best for the overall health of my hair.

Sydney said...

I've tension blow dried and then I switched to curl formers. Lately I have been feeling lazy so I tested out putting my hair in about 20 or so twists and just wearing them until I felt like wearing my hair out. It stretches my hair nicely and I love the fact that while wearing the twists my morning routine is a breeze! I hold them back with an ouchless hair scrunchie and just leave them. Amazing!

Cheryl Sparks said...

I agree. My hair is easier to moisturize and care for if its not curled tightly which it would be if I didn't stretch. At the length it is now its just not practical for me to wear wash and go styles. More damage would occur.

Hilary B. said...

I'm putting my hair in a long term protective style in the next two weeks so I don't really wanna try anything new at the moment but i'll definitely bookmark this for future reference. Thank you!

anonymous said...

I tried "cherry lola" her recipe a few years back and my hair smelled like "ammonia" during the processing period. Scared the poop out of my. Never did it again

anonymous said...

ps. I also tried the "Smooth-N-Shine" Keratin power. It smelled suspiciously like Jheri Curl perm. It left me with straight pieces around my hairline, which I eventually cut off because they made my wash-n-go look like Michael Jackson. I will never use that again either. o_0
Please note, neither product damaged my hair, but they were too close to "relaxer-ville" for my tastes. HTH.

anonymous said...

Dearest Sam, as someone who has SSKs out the WAZOO in her hair - I can appreciate why people stretch. My 4c coils are so kinky that I fear I will never obtain length due to the snarls and mid-strand splits brought on by tangling SSKs.

I do not believe these posters have a desire for straight hair - it's a desire for healthy, tangle free hair.

You do you boo-boo, and I'll do me sweet-pea!

luv2funrun said...

After a fresh wash and about three straight nights of twisting, my hair loosens nicely.
Then I retwist each night, add a little original moxie hair bling along with aveda's anti-humectant
the next morning, untwist and keep it moving. Rocked an eight day loose spiraly twist out last week and
could have easily done another day or two.

Megan Montgomery said...

Oh yeah! New treatments for me to try on my hair. I usely do twist outs or braidouts I like the strinkage a pineapple will stretch my hair out more.

Djenny Passe-Rodriguez said...

I swear by the Cherry Lola treatment. I use it to open my cuticles since I have low porosity hair. I do it every other week.

CurvyCurly said...

I'm sooo lazy and am going to honest and admit I mostly likely will not try any of these seemingly cool methods! I just do twists on freshly washed and conditioned hair and then when dry, untwist and re-twist to create nice stretched hair that will go from a cute twistout to a bun over the course of a few days.

Karen said...

@anonymous

You dont have to agree with Sam but you dont have to be so rude either!!

Karen said...

@anonymous......I'm glad I dont have 4c hair, you go ahead and stretch the ish out of the kinky stuff. I have 3c/4a and dont have to worry about stretch and pulling my hair to death, Now, aint it a bisch for someone to be so rude on a message board?!!?

Alwina Oyewoleturner said...

Great article! I look forward to trying these methods and will definitely share with others looking to soften and/or loosening their curl.
Thank you!

roo08 said...

LOL and your true colors are now showing also aren't they Karen?!

Erika A. said...

I usually blow dry my hair to stretch it, but that's too much heat for me. Next time, I'm going to try banding. I also have a can of coconut milk I didn't know what to do with. Thanks for the info!

Davina said...

I plait my hair after a co-wash and undo them in the morning when dry.

Caramelcurls said...

Everyone to some degree 'fixes and manipulates" their hair--there is not way to NOT do so unless you just don't touch your hair at all. So Sam, unless you have free form dreads, you, yes YOU, fix and manipulate your hair too. Using fingers, combs, applying product are all forms of manipulation. So in reality ALL hair period needs to be touched/styled/maintained to look good and to keep it healthy.

Now since we have clarified that, many naturals, including myself, choose to keep their hair stretched for many reasons. A few of mine are that I only wash my hair once a week and I don't do wash and goes b/c I don't like leaving the house with wet hair. So after I wash weekly, I wear either a twist or braid out for the week. I also feel like keeping my hair stretched helps it to retain moisture. That is all!

Straightening and stretching are two different things...as a matter of fact I have no desire to straighten my hair and don't plan to any time soon.

sam said...

It's funny how you can tell when you hit a nerve with people, because they respond with rudeness or hostility. I think "you protest too much". Maybe you are not quite as comfortable with your natural hair texture as you want people to think you are????

Thetruthisoutthere said...

???

Taylor said...

I used my blow drier on the cool setting but my hair dried more overnight and shrunk anyway (;___;). I usually retwist later and my hair loses some shrinkage.

Jae said...

Since when does stretching = straightening? O_o
Many curlies experience a significantly greater amount of tangles if they don't stretch their hair & this is not limited to those with "kinky" hair.

Abibi said...

I could swear I've read this article somewhere else in the last week on some website named naturally curly or something? Do you run both sites Nikki?

Anyway, I'm going to try the coconut mil treatment sometime soon. I just finished an henna and indigo treatment last weekend. :)

Califabulous said...

I stretch my hair by coiling my hair into one sleek bun and letting it dry for a day or two. Then braid at night to keep the stretch and texture.

closecut&luvinit said...

Ladies, to each "her" own. I only looked at this for techniques to calm down my wiry gray--because it is so different from my normal texture. I wasn't looking for an argument between sisters regarding self-love. We really have to be kinder and more accepting of one another--differences and all, since we're more alike than different, by far. Grace!

Petula Wright said...

Great post. I've used the banding method on my daughters' hair and it works great. Tried once with mine and it worked fine, but I'm too lazy to do mine. I've not tried any homemade products 'cause I get grossed out so easily. LOL Again, great and informative post. I've learned a lot.

Cassandra [C.] said...

so is this a permanent treatment or something that fades/can be washed out?

KitKat said...

This washes out, it is a conditioning treatment. By the next shampoo your curls will return to their natural "tighter" state.

KitKat said...

Here is the ingredient list
Water, Centrimonium Chloride, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol,
Propilene Glycol, Olive Oil, Grape Seed Extract, Isopropyl Myristate,
PPG-3 Benzyl Ether Myristate, Poliquaternium-7, Shea Butter Extract,
Fragrance, Citric Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Metyl Paraben, Ethyl Paraben,
Butyl Paraben, Isobtyl Paraben, FD&C Blue #1, FD&C Basic
Violet.

foreignphil_osophy said...

My mother is from Nigeria and if the hair wasn't worn in a SHORT afro, then it was in some plaited style or updo. That counts as stretching as well, wearing hair loose just wasn't something people did, and some could successfully argue it was because people didn't like the texture BUT it could also be because they had other things to do during the day than worry about loose hair lol!

I just don't know how to wear my hair out without a tangled nightmare (unless it is stretched first), so I do plaits after it's washed and then buns and other protective styles. I want to get into cornrow buns/flat twists cause I think those are beautiful, one day when I figure out how, I want to rock the BIG A** 'fro (but then again I'm so lazy and all that darn combing and poofing might tire me out lol).

foreignphil_osophy said...

And twists looks so good too! Great idea :)

Sydney said...

Thanks!

imSparkie said...

I after a wash/cowash I just moisturize and seal. Then brush it back into a ponytail and secure with a ponytail holder. Then I band the hair that is left. It keeps my curl pattern in tack.

anonymous said...

It's because most of these internet naturals are obsessed with length.

Asia said...

I have no produccts except leave in conditoiner, cocunut oil and she butter i dk how to get mousture in my haiir oit is dry

Misha said...

Try coconut milk or coconut cream concentrate. They make great conditioning treatments. The reason the hair appears stretched is because the hair is properly moisturized. If you don't want to try the recipe above, check out YouTube for Coconut Cream deep conditioning or Coconut Cream Concentrate Relaxer (don't know why the creator called it a relaxer when it's just a deep conditioner).

Also, remember, oils don't moisturize the hair. They seal in moisture. Applying them to dry hair will only create oily, dry hair.

Kimberly KaleidoscopicSoul Eph said...

i definitely have a moisture issue , im going to try this coconut milk treatment this weekend for sure !!!!

Shay said...

i really wish ppl would stop the debate about how black ppl should & shouldnt wear their hair straight or curly geesh its a personal choice!

rose said...

??? what are you talking about? She is just giving out advice & tips for those people who want to stretch their hair & also try new styles. relax.

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