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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.

2. Curlformers

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.

3. Banding

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?

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51 Comments on "3 Ways to Stretch Natural Hair without Heat"

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lilian

So helpful

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[…] Black Girl Long Hair, 3 Ways to Gently Straighten Natural Hair without Heat […]

Rose

African threading takes a lot of skill and effort. My mother (who is an African native) loves working with my hair, but it can hurt when not done properly. It is a very effective method, but if you have very long hair like me, can take longer than usual to thread.

Gina

I prefer roller sets to stretch my hair. I use large rollers and my hair is very well stretched.

Holly

I’m definitely going to try the African Threading on my daughter!

Oh Yeah!!!

Blow drying totally dries out hair! Leaves the ends dry and brittle!

Oh Yeah!!!

Does African Threading really work? Does it stretch the hair well?

Adeola @ TheManeCaptain

yes it works! i do it very often
http://www.themanecaptain.blogspot.ca

Cycy Luciole

Je répond en français car mon anglais est assez mauvais. Mais OUI les nattes africaines aux fils (African Thraeding) fonctionnent et font vraiment pousser les cheveux.
J’en fais chaque soir et mes cheveux sont chaque fois un peu plus souples et longs!! 🙂
So YES African Threading really work and stretch hair verry well

Tanya

When I tried banding my hair was dry and pretty tangled. It was impossible to do anything with. What did I do wrong? I would love to have fairly stretched hair to style with.

Treneka Lenay

@Tanya I had that same issue the first time I tried banding. The key is to moisturize first and detangle before and BETWEEN bands. I like to use something creamy to moisturize and a Denman brush…then make sure you smooth the tips into a nice little moisturized curls :)u

Tanya

Thanks!I didn’t consider that so I will have to give it a try. It sounds like more work, but I think it is worth it. :p

Ninah

I love the African Threading Segment…great user friendly video

awesome

I’ve stretched my hair for years by doing African threading. but my mum(I’m British)Does it tighter because it seals the moisture in.I also do the banding method.They are both AWESOME! Get it? because my names awesome:D?

Ebony

I found that flexi rods can be helpful for a stretch style. It faster and easier to sleep in to me. I did this recently with a two day old wash n go. The results where amazing.

Zena

i usually stretch my hair by putting it into to frecnch plaits and using hairbands to pull it down and my hair (type 3c) would come out more like 3b hair

Brandida52

Ialways stretched my hair by pulling into a low ponytail, smoothing the hair down very well, and then twisting the remaining hair. That works great for me and is very easy to do in the shower.

Tabatha
I have really afroed hair when its wet. I would like to try the threading, but I don’t know if it would work well with hair that is so close to the scalp. The banding is interesting too, but if you don’t have the small hair bands can you use those elastic rubber bands? Does anyone know what I’m talking about they come in black and clear. I’m trying not to use heat, but my hair is so shrunkin wet that I don’t want to try a metod that makes me look foolish. I tried twisting it close to my… Read more »
CurlsAnSwirls
I used elastic headbands that you use to pull hair back into a free form ponytail and they made my hair stretch very long while using the banding method. I like them better than fussing with several elastic bands. I use one per section of my hair and I am able to straighten to the ends of my hair. I use a leave in conditioner by Cantu and some curly pudding to set it. I wrap the band all the way down the hair, tie it up at night and pick it out the next morning. If I wanted a… Read more »
A+
Varah Potter

THANK YOU!!

@InNARA2

I have these and they work!!

MissJo
This feels like an intervention to me, thank you BLGH! I was just ranting to a fellow natural about how I was going to attack my hair with a flat iron because these tangles just weren’t worth it. My problem is that I transitioned with weave for 2 years and now I have armpit length hair that’s 3c/4a at the ends but somehow ended up being 4Z (no lie, it’s like a group of angry Black Power Fists at my roots). I just straightened it with my old blow dryer and flat iron last week and it seems like the… Read more »
karen

I’ve tried both the pinning of wet twist across my head to stretch; and the banding method on wet twist using bands or ouchess barettes to stretch. They both work for me, and the barettes actually dry my hair faster than the bands.

Theo

That threading technique looks awful complex. I wonder if you can do it on yourself? If not, it’s pretty useless to us over 12. lol

The Natural Haven

Yes you can do it on yourself and it is very simple to do, all you are doing is wrapping a thread around the hair. Click on the video to go to youtube to see the rest of Nadine’s videos, she has detailed instructions on how to do the technique.

With everything, it gets better with practice. By your second or third time, you will get it right.

Esther

Hi All,

Great! SO I tried the African threading method and I liked the stretch but hair was a bit stiff and a little clumpy. Any tips? I plan on trying it again.

Thanks!

The Natural Haven

1. Clumpiness is related to how tightly you bound the thread and how even the spacing was between the threads. You should aim for your hair to look like a twist out after taking out the thread

2. Stiffness is probably related to products. You need just a little of oil on your hair (like one finger tip for the whole head). If you are using a moisturiser instead of oil, equally use very little.

Sophie

I just got some curlformers and they’re really great! It’s a nice way to stretch my not-so-dense hair without losing too much volume. The only thing is that my hair dries slooowly, so I have to time it right or I have to sleep in them (which is supremely uncomfortable!). I’ve tried banding but I could never really get that stretched look. Maybe I needed more bands.

Simone

I think the curlformers are amazing… What a great end result!!! I will be buying it soon

NaturalArtMaven

Thanks for including my Curlformer video in the mix. I will have to try my hand at threading to try something different. I think banding would take too long to dry on my hair because it’s so thick.

The Natural Haven

Your video close ups are really fantastic 🙂

Natalee

Had to share this really quick after seeing the video posted on YT. User alodia80 posted a video called “[49]NO HEAT Blowout on Natural Hair” where she stretched her hair by wrapping it wet and conditioned as she detangled and let it dry overnight. It gave a really nice blowout effect. Its probably best explained in her video, link:

Creatividual

I love banding. It is my favorite and most effective way to stretch my hair without the use of heat. I agree with Jc that is is most effective for me when I band on completely detangled and dry hair. I want to try curlformers this fall and give the threading technique a try as well.

LaLa

This is a wonderful method for achieving stretched hair. I did this last night. Today I,m going to take the thread out and do it again. While it’s drying I just put on a wig or cute scarf wrap.

Esther

Hi Lala,

Was it easy to learn how to thread? Any tips? I am inspired to try this this weekend. 🙂

Rella

I haven’t tried any more these methods. I usually twist my hair in big sections and then place them on blue or gray flexi rods. I have also found that if I use a banana clip, my hair will be stretch when I take it down.

Reba

For those who have tried threading what type of thread did you use? That looked like a heavy thread in the video.Thanks.

LaLa

Hair weaving thread is durable.

Esther

Where do you get hair weaving thread? Walmart???? Would love to try this.

The Natural Haven

Or any place which sells weaves.

HomeGrownHairGirl

You can get that thread from any local, beauty supply store for $1-$3.

Trish

and to imagine. all these years i thought my hair was short. When water or any form of moisture gets on my hair, it shrinks to more than 50%. But stretched it reaches my shoulder, but you can still see come curls in it. I’m going to try the threading one day.

Raina

Have done the African threading. Works better than any other technique listed here for me. Hair can dry quickly, they can be easily styled so you can go out of the house to do stuff, and the weave thread is super cheap. I get the best stretch when I use it. Looks like I blowdryed it.

Mj
I think the easiest way for me to stretch my twists/twist outs is to take wet twists (on twists done using naptural85’s winter wash n go method) and pin them really taunt on the opposite sides of my head and take them down when my hair is fully dry. Sometimes I wait until my hair is about 50-75% dry before pinning to reduce drying time. The result is super stretched twist out that resembles a looser curled wash n go. I’ve taken it a step further and gently detangled after untwisting and flat twisted w/a little bit of product for… Read more »
Kelly
I tried it on my daughter’s hair and her hair got all tangled in the thread at the ends. She was almost late for school waiting for me to get them suckas out. I guess I did it wrong but that fiasco was enough to not make me want to try it again for awhile. I use coconut oil and gel to fashion small-medium twists and then I’ve banded using pipe cleaners/craft chenille stems or satin ribbons. I’ve gotten a great stretch with those and all were very easy to remove. My daughter’s hair went from being kind of suspended… Read more »
kinu

I really want to try threading after watching that video

Landry

I tried banding one time and then ran some errands around town. I have no idea why people were giving me funny looks…I remember one lady whispering that I looked like Coolio. I can’t believe the nerve of some people. hehe!

Anywho, I will tension blow dry on a low setting on occasion to stretch my hair or either do a braid out, which stretches my hair quite a bit.

Trini

Much needed laugh. I’m not that brave.

The Natural Haven

Landry lol! To be fair banding does look like a colourful version of Coolio’s style.

I don’t really rate banding and for that matter bantu knots as styles that I would wear outside. I regard them like going out with rollers in your hair. To me the completed is style is after the take down of the bantu knots or bands. However, I have seen people make it work 🙂

Vonnie

Plan to buy curlformers soon.

Tried banding one time and it was a complete disaster! Tweaked it to my liking by using the ouchless bands (thin so maximizes drying) and putting firm, let loose enough so that my hair doesn’t get stuck and tangled in it. Lightly mist my hair, seal with olive oil and put in 7 chunky twists and then band the twists. Do this each night I wear my hair loose and it is gradually stretched.

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