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How to Stretch Natural Hair

Updated on September 21, 2012

My Hair Stretched and Shrunken


Why Stretch My Hair?

Stretching natural hair is a great way to prevent or reduce the occurrence of single strand knots. It also allows people with tightly coiled hair the opportunity to combat shrinkage and wear their true length of hair.

When I want to experience my true length, I stretch my hair instead of flat iron. (I try to do this sparingly if at all). I love big hair so the bushiness and fluffiness doesn’t bother me at all. My hair is on the finer side so I actually wish it was bigger. Anyway, there are many ways to stretch natural hair, I will discuss them in the article.

Sometimes I'll use small braids. It depends on the look I'm going for.
Sometimes I'll use small braids. It depends on the look I'm going for. | Source
1 Year Natural
1 Year Natural | Source


Braiding is a simple way to stretch natural hair. After a wash, I like to section my hair in 4 sections and braid each of those sections. The next day, I wear my hair in a bun and at night before I go to bed I'll braid my hair again. The combination of bunning and braiding effectively stretches out my hair over time and gives me a blown-out look.

After a few nights, I will braid my hair in two braids to stretch my hair out even more over time.

Depending on the length of the hair, some people may need to use smaller sections.

My Twists with Shorter Hair



Twisting the hair is similar to braiding except for the fact that it won’t stretch out the hair as quickly. When I twist my hair, I tend to use more sections than I do when I braid. I also tend to wear my hair in a twist out over the course of the week instead of bunning right away like I do with braiding. Again over time, the size of my twists will get larger to continually stretch out my natural hair.

Twisting is great because it allows me to keep my natural curl pattern visible but in a stretched out state.

Again, depending on the length of the hair, some people may need to use smaller sections.

At my current length, I can get away with 4 twists.


A ton of hair bands! I prefer goody bands though.
A ton of hair bands! I prefer goody bands though. | Source


Banding is another great way to stretch out natural hair. It is great because it also requires no heat. To band the hair all that is needed is a ton of ouchless hair bands. The process of banding includes taking a section of hair and tying it off with a hair band just like making a ponytail.

Once the hair is sectioned off, the next step is to pull the length of the hair down tightly and apply another hair band 1 inch or more down the length of hair. Repeat this process down then entire length of hair until the hair is stretched out completely. This process reminds me of Jasmine from Aladdin. =)

When I band my hair, I like to section my hair in to four sections after it is freshly washed. Much like braiding the hair, over time the sections can get larger to stretch the hair out even more. Also, depending on the length of hair, some people may need a lot more sections.

Remember, with banding, the closer the ponytail holders, the more stretched out the hair will be.

Blow Drying

Blow drying to stretch out my natural hair is something that I try to avoid just because of the heat. If I wasn’t afraid of heat damage, I would do it more often because I love it that much. It stretches out my hair the most out of any other process.

When I blow dry my hair, I like for it to be mostly dry already. I like to braid my hair after I wash it and I wait it out. Allowing the hair to air dry a little bit before blow drying is great because it limits the amount of heat used and therefore reduces the amount of damage caused.

Also when I blow dry, I use a very small amount of olive oil or shea butter. This helps prevent stringy hair. After I blow dry, I’ll apply more.

After blow drying the hair there are so many options for styling. You can do blown out twist outs, braid outs, bantu knot outs, flexi rod sets on dry hair and a variety of other styles.

Just be careful with the heat.=)

Pony Tails/Buns

Pony tails and buns in themselves help to stretch out natural hair. After a fresh wash, I sometimes like to put my hair in a bun right away. I slick my hair back, put it in a ponytail, and then twist my loose hair in to one large bantu knot and let it dry. The next day, my hair is dry and stretched out naturally.

When I do pony tails, only the roots get stretched out and this also gives a pretty cool style; A stretched out curly afro. =)

Rollers/Flexi Rods/ Perm Rods

I find these to be the most time consuming and I rarely do them. If anything, I’ll stretch my hair out with curl formers because they are easy to use. Using rods sets and rollers are great because of the styling options you get from them.

The come in many different sizes so they give versatility. They also are a great way to play with different size curls in different textures of natural hair. Some people are even able to straighten out their hair with them. For my hair, I have not been able to do this.


Flat Ironing

For me flat ironing is the most enjoyable way to stretch out my natural hair. While I love it, it scares the crap out of me because the last thing I want to do is damage my hair. Heat damage is what people with natural hair need to worry about especially those who enjoy wearing their hair curly.

Even those who prefer to wear their hair straight need to worry about the fact that over time using heat can break down the hair with wear and tear. I guess that can happen regardless with styling.

Anyway, flat ironing can be a great change in pace. It’s a fun way to see natural hair in a different light. Just being able to see the length accrued over time from hair that shrinks to capacity at times is rewarding.

Tell Me!

What is your favorite way to stretch natural hair?

See results

Little Tip:

Because of the fine texture of my hair, when doing any of these stretching processes, I must use oil sparingly while my hair is wet or after it is already stretched and dried. When my hair is still wet after a wash, I seal with a little bit of oil. If I use too much oil on wet hair, the results of my stretched out hair will be stringy and greasy. I’m not a big fan of this.

After a fresh wash, I apply a little oil and set my hair. The next day when my hair is dry, while styling, I apply more and when I set my hair for the night, I apply even more. This helps me to keep my hair stretched and avoid the stringy look, especially when I blow dry.

Depending on your texture and what your hair likes, you may want to consider using a small amount of oil when setting the hair and then you can apply more once the hair is dry. For me oil includes, shea butter and olive oil. I like to keep it simple.

Thanks for reading! =) KySmith

Don't forget to comment below. Tell me your experiences. And if you have any questions, I would love to help! =)


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    • KySmith profile image

      Kyndall Smith 5 years ago from Milwaukee

      Thanks ann810! =) I like the banding too, I just wish my hair was longer and then I would probably wear it out myself lol!

    • Ann810 profile image

      Ann810 5 years ago from Sunny Cali

      Hi Kysmith, I like the banding hairstyle, I want my niece to wear that style, it's cute. Voted up, thanks.