How to stretch relaxed hair is something many of us have struggled with. Therefore, this article will address common pitfalls of stretching relaxers.
What is Relaxer Stretching?
Relaxer stretching refers to the number of weeks between relaxer touch up. A huge benefit of relaxer stretching is minimizing the use of harsh chemicals for healthier hair and scalp. Stretching also ensures ample new growth is present which reduces the potential for over-processing. Think of it this way, unless you have a super fast growth rate, there is little new growth at the 6 week mark. When chemicals are applied to a small amount of new growth, it’s inevitable that it’s also applied to previously relaxed hair. This is called overlapping which leads to over-processing and breakage. Therefore, stretching relaxers leads to healthier hair.
Things to Know When Stretching
The new growth and relaxed hair have different textures which creates a weak point along the hair strand and often lead to breakage. The point where the new growth and relaxed hair meet is called the line of demarcation.
Texture differences at the line demarcation makes hair prone to tangles and dryness. Tangles result from shed hair collecting at the line of demarcation. Dryness results when moisture is unable to travel downward to the relaxed hair.
Techniques to Stretch Relaxed Hair
Dry hair is breaking hair. Therefore, keeping the hair moisturized is critical during a relaxer stretch. Deep conditioning regularly and using a daily moisturizer are the top two ways to keep the hair properly hydrated.
Protein treatments should be used on an as-needed basis to strengthen previously relaxed hair. Protein treatments are generally applied to the hair from root to tip but that didn’t work for me. My new growth is very strong and resilient. Therefore, applying protein to it only made it stronger. In turn, this made the line of demarcation weaker which resulted in increased tangles, matting and breakage.
Detangling is a huge part of relaxer stretching. The longer you stretch, the more tangled the hair becomes and the more detangling you’ll have to do. Understanding how to properly detangle your hair is the foundation for relaxer stretching success. Below are some tips for detangling:
- Use a a detangling product to help with detangling your hair.
- Keep hair elongated and stretched to minimize the potential for tangles and matting.
- Properly detangling pre-wash keeps the hair tangle free during wash day.
- Oil rinsing provides slip which helps with detangling.
- Tea rinsing is a great way to combat increased shedding.
- Use proper hair tools to minimize the potential for breakage.
Those new to relaxer stretching should start out slow by adding 1 week to each touch up period until an appropriate interval is achieved. Relaxer stretching takes patience. It’s not something you can master overnight. It takes time to learn how to do it properly. Rushing and being impatient are techniques that lead to disaster every time. Therefore, be gentle while manipulating your hair to achieve so that you can achieve your desired outcome…. long, healthy hair.