Reader Question: Why don’t you stretch your relaxers longer?

I received this question and comment from a lovely reader recently:

 Why do you not stretch longer than 12 weeks?  I find that fascinating seeing as all the other prominent YouTube gurus make it seem like you are doing your hair a disservice if you do not stretch a minimum of six months.

First of all – girl, did you just include me in the phrase ‘prominent YouTube guru’?!  Shut ‘cho mouth!  *doing the wop* (and if you are too young to remember the wop, don’t make me feel old by telling me!)  Secondly – great question and I don’t think I’ve ever fully explained my stance on why I don’t stretch my relaxers longer than 12 weeks in its own post.

Well – the number one reason is very simple:  I retain more length with shorter stretches.  I do go beyond the traditional time between relaxer touch ups, which is usually recommended as 6-8 weeks.  I touch up between 10-12 weeks consistently.  At the start of my journey I was neck and chin length and stretched for about 7 months.  This is the progress I made in about 8 months at the start of my HHJ:

Stretching Relaxers

A clear improvement but staggering?  I think not!  By comparison, here is a photo of my 2012 progress, about the same length of time but stretching only 10-12 weeks PLUS I’ve trimmed during this time and I still retained more length.

Relaxer Stretching

This is pretty much the pattern I began to notice, stretching relaxers for long periods of time did not give me the amazing progress I’d hoped for so i started relaxing more frequently and saw better results.

Reason number 2 – I like my hair.  I like wearing it out, down, enjoying it, styling it, being creative, having fun with it!  The idea of NOT wearing my hair whichever way I choose because my new growth is too unmanageable seems like cruel and unusual punishment.  Why would I force myself to do something along this journey that I don’t enjoy?  I’m not in a race to get the longest hair in the shortest amount of time possible.  Yes, of course I long 4 length (cue corny drumroll) but I know the length will come.  It’s cool.  I’d much rather wear styles I enjoy rather than be forced to bun my hair half of the year because I’m “stretching” to 6 months.

Hopefully that answer satisfies any of those who have wondered the same thing.  I’m not saying this works for everyone, I’m not even saying it works best for me.  It depends on your hair and your goals.  If I had something that I immediately wanted long hair for , which I don’t, I’m sure I would’ve stretched and protective styled the living crap outta my hair.  But since I don’t, I’d rather enjoy my healthy hair journey en route to my hair goals.

Ebony C. Princess About Ebony C. Princess

A self proclaimed hair enthusiast and healthy hair advocate, Ebony C, Princess is the chief editor of Longing 4 Length. She shares her personal journey towards growing long, healthy hair while providing hair care tips and information.

  • Shawnie

    I’ve often wondered the opposite, ECP, but its like you said, you have to do what is best for you on your hair journey. My longest stretch was 13 weeks and my hair was a nightmare, lol! It became tangled and shed something awful. I’ve always marveled at ladies who stretch for 6 months because I could not even imagine such a feat.

  • Cymone

    I agree with Shawnie! I tried to stretch this summer from the beginning of June to the week of Labor Day (almost 13 weeks) & between my new growth & my mom constantly asking when I was gonna tame the beast, it got a lil crazy, lol. But hey, everybody is different, & I’m just glad u offer out ur healthy hair tips to help young ladies like me stretch for 10-12 weeks, or longer!

  • Robyn Kleinhans

    Awesome post hon, I completely agree. I used to STRUGGLE with my hair the minute I hit the 9-10 week mark, partly because I was (before my journey) in the 6-8 week camp. Now that I know better how to take care of my hair, I can more comfortably stretch to 12 weeks, but beyond that I know for me personally is dangerous. My longest stretch was 14 weeks and I shed and had breakage that I didn’t have up and till 11, 12 weeks. So, it’s totally up to how one’s own hair behaves. Also, I’m like you Ebony, I like actually styling my hair (especially now that I HAVE hair to play with, lol) and trying to contain the beast of NG is truly a punishing experience. Hat off to the ladies that have the patience, I sure don’t.

  • Courtney

    Yeah, always just wondered what the point of relaxing your hair is if you stretch for such long periods.

  • alexismoore611

    Your post hit the nail on the head with me. I refuse to punish myself with these outrageous stretches with less results than I would get with short stretches. With longer stretches, I would think to myself, “I haven’t had a relaxer is so long that my hair should touch the floor!!” But I am disappointed everytime with a long stretch, and I am surprised everytime with a shorter stretch. I am a firm believer of quality stretches over quanity stretches. In other words, it is not about how long you stretch but how well you stretch. #bow lol

  • http://thesizzlingmommy.com/ Dr Fomsky

    I just did 14 weeks and that’s the longest I will ever do. I totally agree with you Ebony!

  • http://twitter.com/fancyflairlady Kim

    I completely agree. There comes a point for me where I am doing more harm than good. And the week before that happens it’s time to relax.

  • http://Missfoodiefab.com/ Miss Foodie Fab

    I can’t with you. The first paragraph had me cracking up. Oh and not being a natural nazi, but you sooo don’t need a relaxer. If I can do without one on my 8F hair, I know you can. Yes, feel free to talk about me. I know you are. I’m just saying. Ok, bye!

  • Tonkabelle

    I agree with what you said, it depends on your hair and your goals. I stretch for 12 weeks most times, I only go over this if my hair tells me otherwise and no longer than 16 weeks. It is important to listen to what your hair wants.

  • Aleecia

    I know this is late but… I love this response! I appreciate the honesty and the perspective you shared. I’ve wondered on my journey about not being able to enjoy my hair as well. I still wear it straight at times. As of late, I’ve fallen in love with bantu knotouts again.
    I’m a 10 week girl, aiming for 12 this time (& hopefully there after). I’m at APL currently, aiming for Full BSL. @ 5’9″ tall, that seems like soooo far from where i am.
    Again, thanks for your candid response.

  • cute_yenni

    100% agree with you.. I just relaxed my hair after 22 week almost 5.5 months and didn’t see a diff on my hair length. Last year around June, I started relaxing every 3 months (Sept and Dec and I was able to notice my hair growing. I was super excited when I decided to stretch as far as I could but last week my hair started falling and hard to manage. I did my relaxer on Monday since Dec and my hair length is the same (trimmed my tips ONCE). Now I knows I’m not the only one. Thanks

  • Vag Owner

    i’m considering a relaxer, but it seems pointless if the results are only good for 4-6 weeks and i have crappy two texture hair for 10 weeks afterwards…

  • Caydence James

    It’s not for everybody but when I wanted to grow my hair out yet continue to have a relaxer, I found a way to stretch for a minimum of 22 weeks without having to contend with the two textures or have to go through a lot of work.

    My hair usually gives me problems at the 10 week mark so I wear my hair like I normally would for the 1st 10 weeks and as soon as it gives me problems I simply get my hair cornrowed as though I’m going to get a weave (I leave out hair in the front) and alternate between clip in extensions with a realistic relaxed texture and V/U shaped wigs for the remaining for 12 weeks!

    That way, I still have access to my hair for care and maintenance, my hair looks great within 10-15 minutes every day and meanwhile my hair is cornrowed and I don’t have to mess with the new growth for hours only to get marginal results. My hair was at chin length when I started doing this and two years later it’s now down to between APL (arm pit length) and BSL (Bra Strap Length) so it’s definitely working!

    When I get down to BSL I’ll likely go back to getting it relaxed every 10-12 weeks without corn rows so that I can enjoy the length I’ve gained. But with it being so easy this way, it’ll be hard to stop the 10-12 week cornrow trade off!

  • toniliberty

    Yes sister sooo agree. I see ladies do it all the time…look beady bee just to stretch that’s insane to me. Like you I’d sooo much rather style it and look cute than torture myself and be picky headed! and for 6 WHOLE months. NOT! lol :-)

  • CLASSIC

    I agree, new growth blows. But also, the hair becomes too sensitive and brittle when you don’t keep it all the same texture (which i just found out). That’s why when ladies transition, it’s a TON of work to stop breakage.