Banding Method: How to Safely Stretch Natural Hair

Banding natural hair is a technique used to stretch out the curls in natural hair. It doesn’t matter what your hair type is. If you have any type of kink or curl, you can use elastic bands to stretch out your hair. Below you’ll find my recommendations on how to band naturally curly hair in a couple of ways.

What Is The Banding Method?

how to stretch natural hair
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The banding method is a hair technique that is used to stretch out sections of hair. It’s the easiest way to stretch out your curl pattern and can be done on dry hair or damp hair. It’s best not to band wet hair.

When banding dry hair, you can mist your hair with a little water just to add some moisture if needed. However, if you want to know how to stretch natural hair after washing without heat, the only difference you need to make is making sure your hair is not too wet because you’ll be banding right applying a leave-in conditioner. 

If your hair is too wet, you risk breakage as well as it taking an extended amount of time to dry.

Benefits of Banding Natural Hair

benefits of banding natural hair

At some point during your natural hair journey, you’re going to want to stretch out your curls. The typical reason is to achieve some hang time. You can actually recognize the length of your hair without risking heat damage from using a hot tool like a flat iron or blow dryer.

Basically, banding handles the issue of shrinkage.

However, there are many other benefits of using the banding method to stretch out your natural curls:

  • You don’t need a bunch of other hair tools like bobby pins
  • Cuts down on tangling and knotting
  • Banding can be more gentle on your hair strands than using a hair dryer
  • Your curl pattern will temporarily change to a looser wave giving you a new look. This depends on how the bands are placed.
  • You can band your hair and wear it as a style and remove the bands the next day if you don’t want to remove them right away.
  • A hair stylist is not needed. You can do this on your own

Using bands to stretch your hair also eliminates the need for using a heat protectant on your hair since no heat is needed.

The Downside of Banding

cons of banding natural hair

While hair banding is an excellent way to stretch your hair, it’s not necessarily the best way.

Yes you can see more of the length of the hair but there are some cons to this method to call out.

However, these may not be cons for you:

  1. Isn’t as fast as using heat
  2. It’s easy to over stretch your curls if you aren’t careful
  3. If you band wet hair, drying time is increased (especially if you have low porosity hair)
  4. If your hair is already fragile, the bands could cause hair breakage 
  5. You have to be careful when removing the bands or you could cause tangling or worst, breakage

Bands for Banding Natural Hair

There are several types of ponytail holders that can be used to band natural hair with:

– Satin or silk scrunchies

– Satin or silk ribbon

– Rubber bands

– Elastic bands

The best bands to use will be based on the look you are trying to achieve. However, let’s remove rubber bands from the list. They can cause hear breakage (Check out “Are Rubber Bands Bad for Natural Hair?“). Also, you don’t want to use elastic bands with metal pieces on them.

If you want a lot of stretch, go with seamless elastic bands. These are smooth all the way around and don’t have those dreaded metal pieces on them.

You will receive best results using these for technique number one below.

Satin and silk scrunchies will work if you only want a little stretch (see technique #2 below) or are working with hair that’s already pretty stretched. Same for if you’re using satin or silk ribbon.

The upside of using satin is your hair comes out smoother and shinier.

If you’re stretching natural hair with scrunchies overnight, do so using small sections of hair if you want to get more stretch.

While you won’t get as much stretch with scrunchies, they are the most gentle to the hair shaft and won’t cause any tension or stress.

Two Banding Techniques

stretching natural hair without heat

While the same tools will be used to band with, the technique used to install the bands will determine what your results will be.

Banding Technique #1

One technique of banding is used to band hair so that the results yielded are that of a simulated blow out.

After securing your hair in ponytails (the amount based on density), just wrap your bands (or satin material) from roots to ends so that there’s no space between the bands.

Banding Technique #2

The other technique for how to band natural hair is similar but it’s all about the placement of the hair bands and leaving space between them.

Using this technique, you just want to stretch out curls so you have more hang time to your wash and go, twist out or braid out. The goal with this method is to make sure you aren’t over-stretching your curly hair, thereby totally eliminating your curl definition.

Lastly, while you don’t need the use of heat to band your hair, you can use a warm hair dryer on low heat to speed up the stretching process. Of course, this will change the stretching method from being a heat-free method.

Tips for Banding

no heat stretching natural hair

While banding is indeed an excellent method and an easy way to stretch out curls, there are some things to keep in mind so that you achieve the best results:

  1. Do not put the bands on your hair too tight to avoid excessive tension
  2. If using bands vs. scrunchies, you can lightly coat the band with oil so there is less stress on the hair
  3. Don’t band all the way to the ends of your hair unless you want more of a stretch. Leave about a 1/2 inch of hair free
  4. For more stretch, band smaller sections. This depends on the density of your hair. For someone like me with fine hair, I’d band 6 sections.
  5. For less stretch, apply bands to a slightly larger section. Again, using my hair density as an example I’d band 1 or 2 large ponytails.
  6. For more volume at the crown, band a high ponytail. You won’t be able to rock this one as a style though.

You’ll find additional tips for banding natural hair (fine natural hair especially) in this video here:

YouTube video

In this video I share the results of the banding method on my fine natural hair

YouTube video

Other Natural Hair Stretching Techniques

While the banding method is a great way to see more hair length with your curls, it’s not the only method.

Some other heat-free methods of stretching out your curl pattern include:

  • Doing bantu knots
  • Stretching twists and pinning them around your head
  • Using flexi rods or perm rods
  • The African threading method (a very popular way to get a heatless blowout)
  • Using hair stretching plates
  • Curlformer sets
  • The Satin Strip Ponytail Method

Check out three little known ways to stretch natural hair here.

These are all effective heatless ways to stretch out curly hair. The next time you stretch your hair, refer back to these tips for how to band natural hair as a refresher.

Where to Next?

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  1. This is really informative. I tried banding in the past but didn’t have much luck but this breakdown makes me want to give it another go. Love the fact you shared other techniques for stretching natural hair. I’ll try the other options too if I don’t manage to get this right.

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