Today's post is going to elaborate on something I always talk about- 'stretching'.
What is stretching? Well it is the act of delaying a relaxer treatment weeks after you would normally get one to ensure that you have an increased amount of new growth. Let's say you relax your hair every 8 weeks, well at week 8 if you decide to delay for 4 more weeks and relax your hair at week 12 then that's called stretching. Its that simple, however it must be a conscious calculated effort on your part so you can get the maximum benefits.
How? Well as i just stated, it must be a conscious effort. Simply forgetting to take out your weave at week 8 until week 12 comes along technically isn't a stretch for hair growth purposes because stretching is not complete without giving your new growth TLC( tender loving care).
How you might ask? Well il start with what not to do while stretching; constant combing and tugging of your hair root to tip will only help rip your hair to shreds and inhibit length retention so during your stretch keep the comb at a distance except when you want to detangle your hair which requires a wide tooth comb and detangler or leave in conditioner sprayed at the roots.
Never equate hair neglect to stretching, hair neglect means you do not oil your scalp, moisturize and seal your hair especially the ends, deep condition, do pre poo treatments and all these are essential for a successful stretch. So do not think you get a break from your regimen in fact you need to stick more to your regimen while you stretch but put emphasis on keeping your new growth soft and manageable.
Protective styling is a great way to stretch. For instance you can have a your hair in a secure bun for a few days without taking it down, in the mornings all you need to do is spray on leave in conditioner and brush it in place or you can do what I loved doing in the winter, each night I'd divide my hair into two sections and then braid down each section after moisturizing and sealing like this
then in the morning I'd carefully loosen the braids and finger comb my hair, see the results
It's d quickest twist out ever! Other protective styles you might consider are wigs and extensions. Basically any style that involves low manipulation to maintain, the operative word there being LOW, if the style requires NO manipulation at all like sew in weaves then it is not a protective style in my view because how are you going to take care of your hair when you can't get through wefts upon wefts of one Brazilian woman's hair sewn onto your scalp!lol
Finally Why should anyone bother with stretching? Well it makes sense to stretch because the longer you stay without a relaxer the more you allow your hair in its natural state to grow from your scalp and if you can adequately maintain the two textures( relaxed and natural) you can then have fewer relaxer treatments. Fewer relaxer treatments means less damage by the relaxer on your hair and that will result in your hair having more body and less breakage because believe it or not relaxers do break down our hair strands.
Short story; during my masters I practically lived in the library and one day I was sitting beside a colleague of mine( caucasian) and a strand of her hair fell on my laptop, out of curiosity I picked up the strand and as I happened to have a strand of my own hair lying around, studied the two strands closely and I instantly noticed a difference. While her hair was the same in terms of thickness(hmmm I'm cracking my brain on how best to describe this) ok it was like a solid black line, mine was undulating, it was solid near the root then became thinner then solid and then thin again( remember this is just a strand of my hair) I instantly knew the reason why many people go natural and why people with relaxed hair suffer most from breakage, relaxers break down the hair composition immensely! But I'm still a relaxed babe, my hair is too tough to go natural!
Oh well I have come to the end of this post, I hope you have gathered a thing or two. Try purposeful stretching and let me know how it goes.