By Jc of The Natural Haven Bloom
Stretching hair without heat is an important part in many natural routines as it can help to minimise tangling and knotting. Using no heat in the process also protects hair from damage and dryness that hair dryers can induce in natural hair.
The important part though is that heatless stretching cannot be aggressive. The aim is not to fully straighten hair but simply elongate it to around 70-80% of its full length. The final effect of gentle stretching is similar to a blow-out. Before I introduce the videos, I must give you this one tip, in order to get the best stretch, your hair should be fully dry at the final take out stage. Here are the three best methods in order of effectiveness:
1. African Threading
Nadine has really done a great job in showcasing African threading. This video in particular shows how African threading can give a really great stretch without heat and without pulling hair as you would need to do on a roller set. It is possible to achieve a similar although usually with a less stretched out results by braiding or twisting instead of African threading.
You can stretch out hair of any length using curlformers. This method is generally gentle but only with proper technique, meaning no hair pulling when using the hook and gentleness when removing the curlformers. I selected this video as an illustration as it has excellent close up views of hair which show you that some texture is left with this stretching method. Combing out the curls (with fingers or a wide tooth comb) will leave you with a bouncy blow-out look.
African threading and curlformers will both normally give an excellent stretch to hair. This is because they both hold hair firmly and tightly as it dries. I have found that banding does not tend to give as good a stretch on wet hair because the thickness of the bands sometimes hinders hair from drying completely. However, some naturals have mastered the art of banding and use it routinely.
Ladies, what gentle heat-free stretching methods do you use?