Fine natural hair is the most fragile of all hair types. Allowing it to shrink too much can cause hair breakage. Below you will discover three little know ways to stretch natural hair without heat.
Fine hair tangles easily and is more prone to breakage than any other hair type. That’s why one of the best ways to preserve fine hair and prevent it from breaking is to keep it stretched.
Stretching natural hair helps reduce the risk of it tangling up. It’s also a bit easier to manage.
Popular Ways to Stretch Natural Hair
There are many ways to stretch natural hair. Here are some of the popular methods:
African Threading – a method that requires the use of smooth thread to wrap around sections of hair from root to tip. The more sections you wrap, the more your hair will stretch.
Banding – Similar to the threading method in how you stretch, banding utilizes elastic bands (preferably seamless) to stretch the hair. Like threading, you wrap bands around sections of hair from root to tip. When you secure the bands in this manner, it allows your hair to stretch out. That’s because you are pulling it taut.
Braiding/Twisting – Putting hair in braids or twists to stretch out the strands while air drying. You can braid or twist your hair while damp for faster drying time. If you stretch and pin the braids/twists around your head, your hair will be more stretched.
Roller/Rod Setting – Using hair rollers, flexi rods, Curlformers or any other type of hair roller to stretch the hair out, while simultaneously creating elongated curls. When using this method, hair can then be wrapped and pinned to remove the roller set curl for an even more stretched appearance.
Tension Blow Drying– Working with hair in sections, hair is held taut at the ends while a warm/hot hair dryer is angled to run up and down the hair shaft. The result is blown out, stretched hair.
This method can also be used with a blow dryer set with cool air but it takes a lot longer to do.
Flat Ironing – Using a heat straightening appliance to pass through sections of the hair to stretch out any visible curl pattern. This is obviously the method also used to make hair very straight but not the kindest for fine strands.
SSS Plates – Wet/damp hair is stretched and clamped down on plastic plates and released when dried. The result is super stretched hair with a slightly visible curl pattern remaining (these are no longer being sold)
Obviously, not all of these methods are good for fine natural hair due to the use of heat involved in those processes.
Three Unpopular Ways to Stretch Natural Hair
In addition to the hair stretching methods above, there’s three more methods (lesser known) that can effectively stretch natural hair in a way that’s gentle and does not require the use of heat.
This is exactly what you need to achieve a solid stretch on fine natural hair without risking breakage.
The Coil Pin Stretch Method
This method of stretching does leave a bit of texture to the hair but it’s a stretched texture, making the hair appear curly but in an elongated way.
Items needed: seamless elastic bands and bobby pins
- On freshly washed and conditioned hair that’s damp (not wet), hair is secured in ponytails with seamless elastic bands.
- Then, stretch the hairs of each individual ponytail and twine in the same way that you would twine hair being set for finger coils.
- Next, stretch the coiled section of hair across your head and pin in place.
- Allow hair to dry before unpinning and releasing the bands.
* This method is great to prep for other hairstyles that you’d like to have a bit of texture to.
The Double Knot Stretch
A surprisingly effective stretch, I stumbled on this method by accident when securing it after washing and not being ready to style.
Items needed: Puff Cuff Minis, optional: bobby pins, a detangling brush
- On freshly cleansed/conditioned hair, split hair into two even sections.
- On one side, gather the hair in that section into your hands while smoothing the section.
- Hold section tight while twining the hair in one direction as if to create a bantu knot.
- Wrap the twined hair around into a small knot
- Secure with the Puff Cuff mini. For a more secure hold, use bobby pins
* This method also works on dry hair that you want to stretch out. You just need to finger detangle your hair a bit for a more effective stretch.
The Satin Strip Ponytail Method
Of the three little known heat free natural hair stretching methods, this by far yields the most stretch.
Items needed: long cut strips of satin in varying sizes (satin fabric available at Joann or here on Amazon), seamless elastic bands
On freshly washed and conditioned hair, optional: work a light oil throughout the hair (this helps with moisture retention and shine).
- Section hair into 4 sections
- Secure each section with seamless elastic band, creating four ponytails
- Tie a strip of satin over the top of the elastic band to secure
- Wrap the satin strip around the section of hair overlapping the satin from the top to the middle and tie off the strip.
- Tie another strip of satin where the first strip ends repeating the process until you reach the end of the ponytail. Then, tie off to secure (optional: use another elastic band to hold the end of the satin strip in place)
- Repeat the process for the other 4 sections
- Tie hair down with a satin scarf to allow hair to dry and set over night
Note: Wrap satin strips snug but not tight
When you utilize heat free methods to stretch your natural hair (especially fine hair), you are using the most gentle method possible to reduce the risk of tangling which can lead to breakage.
Have you tried any of these hair stretching methods?