3 Ways to Stretch Natural Hair without Heat

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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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  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • Ninah

    I love the African Threading Segment…great user friendly video

  • 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

  • Oh Yeah!!!

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

    • 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

    • yes it works! i do it very often

  • Oh Yeah!!!

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

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

  • Gina

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

  • 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.

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  • lilian

    So helpful