As I've said in my hair journey post, I am stretching my relaxers for longer than the "customary" 6-8 week period. Right now, I'm about 22 weeks (5.5 months) into an indefinite stretch (don't you dare say the T word.... lol). I don't quite know when I'm going to end up relaxing, possibly not until February; but quite likely earlier (like in mid January at some point). To the left is a picture of my progress from the past five and a half months! (I apologize for the bad quality, I don't have my camera so it was taken with my phone).
Stretching, I've realized, is a pretty taboo subject. A lot of people have the misconception that if you DON'T relax every 6-8 weeks, then your hair will break off. And while that is VERY possible if you don't know what you're doing, if you DO know what to do, and have a few techniques, then you can actually come out of it with healthier hair than you had to begin with.
So this is going to basically be just some techniques/tips/products that I have come across that have helped to make my stretch easier. This will prob end up as a series that I'll add to as I learn new things. But let's get started...
- Co-washing: Seriously the single best thing to do while stretching... if you can only do ONE thing that I suggest... CO-WASH!! It keeps the hair very moisturized, keeps the scalp clean, and just contributes to an overall more manageable NG. I swear by it, honestly. I typically shampoo my hair once a month. However, I co-wash 2-3 times a week.
- Treating hair in sections: Whenever I wash, DC, moisturize, pretty much any manipulation on wash day, it's done with my hair parted in four sections. Now, I'm a lazy girl (yes, I can admit that!) and when I first started my healthy hair journey, I thought that sectioning hair was doing the most. But I would ALWAYS get these MASSIVE tangles. At one point I thought my hair was loccing but I had my mom look at the "locs" and she was like "that's just a big tangle!" and I was losing hair trying to un-knot them. So I decided to try washing in sections... and never looked back.
- Protein: A recent addition to my stretching "must do" list. I always thought that my hair was protein sensitive but lately, I've realized that it's really not! Between egg treatments (recipes coming lol) and my yogurt treatment, my hair (at least my NG) is telling me "we love PROTEIN!" Also, my hair is breaking a lot less since I've stopped punk-assing my protein treatments. But be sure to listen to your hair... if it doesn't like the amount of protein you're using, then stop it in it's track before you go into protein overload. And a quick tip, if you feel like you've gone crazy with the protein, try doing an intensive moisture treatment to get back the balance between moisture and protein.Also, in my experience, clarifying before the moisture treatments gives good results as well.
- Moisture: This one goes without saying...my NG would HATE me if I didn't moisturize and seal REGULARLY. But the same rules apply as for the protein... listen to your hair.If you feel like you're over-moisturized and your hair feels mushy (very soft, breaking to the touch, limp, lifeless) then try a mild protein to get back the proper moisture/protein balance.
- Protective Styling: Protective styles are your friend when stretching. Braids, wigs, weaves, twists, twist-outs, braid-outs, bantu knot-outs, buns, etc... basically any low manipulation style that keeps your hair up and off of your clothing counts. The level of manipulation is important because the more you fiddle and fuss with your hair, the more likely it is that it will break... one of the major issues while stretching.
Right now, these are my five stretching cornerstones. There are other techniques that I will post about in the future that also help to make a successful stretch. But these are the basics. Happy Stretching ladies!