Most healthy hair journeyers have heard, read or been told stretching is a must to have healthy relaxed hair. For those unfamiliar, relaxer stretching refers to the practice of extending the amount of time between your retouches; Therefore instead of relaxing your new growth at the customary 6-8 week intervals you continue to “stretch” until 10+ weeks. The purpose to relaxer stretching is to avoid overlapping previously relaxed hair and thicken your hair by avoiding frequent relaxer run off. The relaxer “run off effect” is the eventual over-processing of the length of your previously hair from exposure to relaxer during the process of rinsing relaxer from your new growth. Now that we all understand relaxer stretching, is it absolutely necessary? Yes and no, with relaxer stretching more does not always equal better. While I agree relaxing at 6 week intervals is not healthy, only relaxing every 6 months may be counterproductive.
Common mistakes made when attempting a stretch include: 1) stretching without a defined regimen and solid understanding of hair type, texture, performance, likes/dislikes and 2) attempting to keep pace with others, thereby extending the relaxer stretch beyond your respective skill level. A defined regimen and solid hair knowledge should be achieved before attempting to stretch your relaxer. This level of understanding makes it easier to correct issues that arise while deep in a stretch. No need to keep pace with others and attempt a 6 month stretch if your skill cannot support. Been there, failed miserably, so I’m speaking from experience: find a balance and know your limits! My limit is 10 weeks. I’ve tried stretching for longer periods but I tend to lose the ability and patience to properly manage what I call “stretching risks” >> breakage, tangles and dryness.
Divachyk’s Relaxer Stretching Tips!
- Have a defined regimen, solid understanding and patience
- Limit experimenting with new products and techniques to avoid setbacks
- Stretch gradually with adding an additional 1 to 2 weeks each stretch
- Be consistent! Inconsistencies lead to breakage, tangles and dryness
- Find your sweet spot and do what works for your hair!
Shampoo. Buildup = Dry Hair
- Clarify / Chelate as needed to remove buildup and mineral deposits
- Product and mineral buildup blocks moisture
- Clean hair provides a blank canvas for products to nicely penetrate the hair
Moisture. Dry Hair = Breaking Hair!
- Moisturize from root to tip to keep the hair properly hydrated
- Deep condition at least once weekly & conditioner wash as-needed
- Incorporate tea rinsing to increase moisture, add slip and minimize shedding.
- Hydrate internally by drinking half your body weight in ounces of water each day
Protein. Balanced Hair = Healthy Hair
- Learn your moisture-protein balance: Does your hair love protein? OR Is your hair protein sensitive?
- Protein treat as needed based on your protein limits
- Hair Tip: apply protein to previously relaxed hair only. Why? New growth is at its healthiest, strongest and most natural point, thus exposing it to protein strengthens these strands even more, thereby further weakening the line of demarcation.
- Hair Tip: follow protein treatments with a moisturizing conditioner: add in a tablespoon (or two) of honey and extra virgin olive oil for an extra boost of moisture
Detangling. Tangles / Matting = Breakage
- Invest in a good detangling product that offers slip for ease of combing
- Thoroughly detangle pre-wash: taking the proper steps pre-wash makes for an easier post-wash experience
- Pre-poos rock: softens new growth, aids in detangling, combats hygral fatigue and protects the hair from the harsh effects of shampoo
- Don’t be afraid to comb daily: keep sheds removed before they become tangles
- Air dry with the banding method (or other similar methods) to combat shrinkage and keep the new growth stretched
- Oil rinsing & tea rinsing offers slip for detangling
- Seamless combs are a must! Gentle on the strands
Knowing what works for your hair is the secret to success!
See more hair tips, techniques and product reviews on my blog, RelaxedThairapy.com.