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If you have natural hair, then you’ve probably been wondering how to show off your length without damaging your strands. Curly, coily, and wavy hair types often have to tackle shrinkage (a decrease in length when natural hair dries), and you may think that using a flat iron is the only way to stretch your strands. News flash: That’s not true! Your natural hair already needs all the extra love it can get, and consistent use of heat styling tools won’t be doing your mane any favors.
The key to stretching natural hair without damaging your mane? No-fuss hairstyles and hair hacks that require little to no heat. Have we piqued your interest? If so, keep reading to learn how to stretch natural hair five different ways that allow you to keep your texture intact.
Before we get into all the ways to stretch your textured strands, it’s important to understand why your hair appears shorter than it actually is in its natural state. All signs point to shrinkage. Shrinkage, which we touched on earlier, typically occurs after the wash and conditioning process when your hair is moisturized and healthy. The hair dries and looks shorter than it actually is.
With healthy hair comes elasticity, which gives your strands the ability to withhold stress and manipulation. In turn, your hair can bounce back to its natural and healthy state without any damage. So, while shrinkage can be annoying to deal with, it’s actually a good thing, as it tells a lot about the health of your hair.
Editor’s note: The curlier your hair is, the more of a decrease in length you can expect to see when your hair is dry. Learn more about this from our article, Our Hair Length Chart: Understanding Hair Length and Type.
Ready to learn how to stretch your natural hair without sitting in a salon for hours on end? Look no further. Below, we’re sharing five techniques to put your true length on full display.
A chic way to flaunt your hair length is to style your mane in a twist out. This hair technique gives your strands beautiful waves that are naturally stretched for longer-looking hair. Head on over to our article, How to Do a Twist Out on Natural Hair, to learn how to give a few twist out styles a try.
Similar to the twist-out method, a braid out defines your hair texture while lengthening your strands for a longer appearance. To get the look, start with freshly washed and moisturized hair. Part your hair in two even sections, then divide each side into six smaller sections, clipping five of them in place and out of the way for now.
Starting with one small section, braid your hair until you reach the ends and repeat. Once complete, gather a few braids, stretch them to the other side of your head and secure with bobby pins. Unravel the next day for a defined and stretched mane.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to lengthen your strands, the banding method will meet your needs. First, part your hair into six equal sections and clip into place, so they’re not in your way. Place a hair elastic at the root of one section, wrapping it around your hair. Continue to wrap hair elastics down your hair shaft, spacing them out as you go. Repeat on the rest of your sections. Leave the elastics in your hair overnight, then carefully unravel the next day for elongated strands.
If you’re not against using heat tools in your hairstyling routine, the tension method may be worth a try. Start by parting your hair into even sections. Using a blow dryer and a boar bristle brush, dry your roots using the nozzle end of your blow dryer. This technique will provide instant stretch if you’re pressed for time. Be sure to use your blow dryer on a cool setting to minimize the amount of heat on your hair.
No, we’re not talking about the tasty, tropical fruit! A popular natural hairstyle, pineapple-ing your hair is mostly used to keep your curls from getting crushed as you sleep. However, this style also works double duty to stretch out your roots and elongate your mane. All you need to do is flip your hair, pull it into a high ponytail, and secure with a hair elastic for the ultimate no-fuss 'do.
Stretching your natural hair is one of the many ways you can preserve the health of your hair. Ready to learn more tips for maintaining your natural locks? Head over to our article, Your Natural Hair Care Routine.
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