The hair tips, advice and recommendations given on this blog are given based on the experiences of the authors. These tips may not work for everyone and every hair type and it is important to acknowledge this since we are neither hair specialists nor trichologists.

Also many pictures on this blog belong to the authors but there are others that we do not have ownership for and thus we do not claim ownership of the ones that do not belong to us.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Stretching and Straightening Natural Hair

In the last post we talked about shrinkage. Read more here. It is important to note that shrinkage is not a bad thing: it is just the nature and characteristic of natural black hair –that’s all. Sure it can be a bit annoying that the whole world cannot see that your hair reaches your buttocks but it gives you something to say when playing those “tell us one thing no one knows about you” games.  So what can be done to manage shrinkage? I use the word “manage” because shrinkage cannot be eliminated. Yeah, that product you just bought to end shrinkage forever is fake!

In Napp world, many people use the term “stretch” to indicate the drawing out or lengthening or extending of the hair without removing the kinks and coils completely. So one’s hair is stretched out but you can still tell the hair is natural because you’ll see some little kinks or coils especially at the front and neckline of the head. The techniques used are also different from when one straightens the hair. Stretching is almost always temporary which means you can go back to your full coils after washing your hair. After stretching you usually have some elasticity still left in the hair. You have to be careful and ensure that you do not over manipulate your hair in the bid to stretch your hair. Do everything in moderation and with gentleness and care.

Natural hair stretched using braids. Braids taken out and hair combed out with a wide tooth comb.

Straightening natural hair is usually used to indicate the complete removal of the kinks and coils. The intention is for the hair to be straight (as in the word) usually like Caucasian hair. This can be permanent like when relaxers are used or temporary like when high levels of heat (blow drying, curling iron, flat iron) is used.  After straightening, there is usually no elasticity left in the hair. 

O’Naturals does not advocate using relaxers because it permanently alters the texture of our natural hair and it can be harmful to your health.  O’Naturals also discourages the use of frequent direct heat to the natural hair. It is not using direct heat but using it all the time, especially at high levels, that can cause problems. Frequent application of direct heat to natural hair can also be very damaging because the heat removes moisture from the hair which can lead to breakage. 

Hair straightened using a relaxer

Natural hair straightened using blow dryer and flat iron

There are various methods of stretching natural hair. The fun thing is that these methods can be used as hair styles and protective styling. These methods become stretching techniques when they are used before the actual intended hairstyle is done.  For example, I put my hair in big braids over night to stretch it out for the Cinnabun Bun hairstyle I did.

The following techniques can be used to stretch your hair: Braids, Bantu knots, 2 or 3 strand twists, Flat twists, Corn-rows, Banding, Threading, Flexi rods, Big rollers, Pin curls. You can also use a blow dryer to stretch your hair so long as you do not straighten it! Figure that one out! We will have posts up on the techniques mentioned above as stretching tools. Stay tuned!

Keep it natural!



Natmane said...

Your hair looks great sis! This is beside the point but where did you get that t-shirt?

Ene1 said...

Love your website/blog Omozo. I love being natural. I will say that I love banding as an easy way to keep my hair stretched which makes it more easily manageable. I do two or three bands using large bands that allow me to band my hair all the way to the tips. Almost like "plaiting thread' (West Africans/Nigerians will get this). I started another new stretching technique that also works for me: I wash, condition and then apply coconut oil and shea butter liberally to my hair while damp. I then do about eight to ten two strand twists. I allow to air dry. Then I straighten my hair with a straightening iron. By eliminating the blow drying step, there is little to no damage to my hair. Blow drying really does a lot of damage to the hair I think even more than the Straightening Iron Itself. I found this out many years ago the hard way. Also Hot combs are damaging because of the "comb". I find that just using a straightening Iron is least damaging. After straightening at a moderate heat ( I do NOT straighten to the point of looking like I perm), I apply a healthy aloe Vera, moisturizing gel to my hair, more at the tips. What I get is lengthened bouncy wavy hair, with a nice curl at the end. I love it. It is manageable and allows me to leave my hair "out". My hair resorts back to its natural curls when wet. I do know that too much heat along with a blow drier can actually dry out and change the natural curl pattern and can later cause breakage. That happened to me many years ago. I find that this method works really really well and does not damage my hair. Just giving my story on straightening - I am also passionate about natural hair. :-) Ene

Omozo said...

@Natmane: Thanks Sis! I got it from Anita Grant many many years ago. i do not have it anymore (unfortunately). We should make our own ehn?

Omozo said...

@Ene: You are tree much! Thanks so much for your comment. I am so glad you follow our blog *jumping up and down* Thanks for sharing your techniques. It is so important for us to pay attention to our natural hair and find out what is working and ditch what is not. And to remember that too much high heat is damaging. How often do you use the straightening iron: every 2 weeks?

Natmane said...

We should o...

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