What makes you such an expert LHDC??? Well, first of all, at the time of this post I am 62 weeks into my relaxer stretch. Secondly, I don't relax my hair more than twice per year, so I typically stretch 26 weeks or more between relaxing on the regular. Finally, my natural hair type is thick, coarse and kinky - or just plain nappy! so the reason that I am able to stretch is NOT because I got "good hair."
What is stretching? Stretching is a term used in the hair growing community to describe increased amounts of time between relaxer touch ups. For example, if you normally receive your relaxer touch up at 6-8 weeks, you might benefit from STRETCHING your relaxer touch up to 10-12 weeks...
Why would I want to do that??? The BEST reason that you should incorporate relaxer stretches into your regular haircare routine is to prevent (and virtually eliminate) overlapping - re-relaxing previously relaxed hair - and overprocessing which is a leading cause of breakage in chemically processed hair. Secondly, the less relaxers you get per year, the less money you have to spend and the fatter your bank account will be! Finally, many members of the hair growing community report thickening of their hair from relaxer stretches.
How do I do it? Stretching is quite easy really. Like with most things that are challenging in life, stretching is mind over matter.
The first and most important rule of stretching your relaxer is LOVE YOUR NEW GROWTH!!!
You have to accept the fact that your hair in the 7th week after a relaxer is NOT going to behave and do like your hair in the 3rd week after a relaxer....your hair in the 20th week after a relaxer is not going to behave, act like or respond like your hair in the 13th week after a relaxer. Now that you know it...ACCEPT IT!
Your new growth is the hair that your momma gave you - it is YOUR natrual goodness...and no one has new growth like yours! So, love it and treat it with respect! It might not be a bad idea to get to know it...who knows...your stretch may lead to a transition or even a BC...
If this is your first time attempting to stretch, don't jump in going from 4 week relaxer touch ups to 33 weeks...ease yourself into it, because for some, there IS a bit of "culture shock" involved in the stretching process. So, start off by adding 2 weeks to your normal relaxing schedule and once you get the hang of it try it for the long haul!
The second most important rule of stretching your relaxer is CONTROL YOUR HAIR, DON'T LET IT CONTROL YOU! Like I said, it really is mind over matter...don't let your mind tell you that you can't deal with your hair with all that new growth...remember that is the hair your momma gave you, more importantly it is the hair that GOD gave you and He will never give you more than you can bear...(side note....I never get all Godly up in here, but the truth is the truth...).
And the third most important rule of relaxer stretching, is moisture, moisture and MORE moisture...and then moisturize again! The most fragile point on your hair's strand is your line of demarcation and moisture will be key to protecting it and keeping it in tact.
12 Tips For Stretching Your Relaxer:
- Embrace your new growth.
- Control your new growth, don't let it control you.
- Step up the moisture!!! Deep condition WEEKLY with a moisturizing deep conditioner...this is NOT optional.
- I personally find it beneficial to deep condition with oil - coconut oil is amazing!
- Assess your strands to determine your hair's need for protein.
- Consider doing monthly henna treatments.
- Ditch the shampoo! Instead opt to cleanse with moisture rich conditioners. If you just can't part with the 'poo, do a pre-shampoo treatment of natural oils and moistrizing conditioners for up to 30 minutes prior to shampooing and ONLY use diluted shampoo, lathering your hair SCALP only one time. Dilute your shampoo to 3 parts 'poo to 1 part water.
- Incorporate low/no manipulation hairstyles into your haircare routine - the less you bother your hair the better - it's not a bad idea to hide your hair in braids, twists, etc. while stretching.
- Ensure that your line of demarcation and hair shaft are well moisturized and lubricated - moisturize and seal your hair daily with a natural oil.
- It is always important to handle your hair with TLC but especially critical while you are stretching. NEVER yank or pull or force styling tools (or your hands) through your hair. Take your time and get to know your hair.
- Invest in a good detangling product and only comb-out your hair while wet with a WIDE tooth comb. It is helpful to saturate your hair with a creamy moisturizing conditioner prior to detangling...you can use this as your leave-in if you aren't planning to straighten your hair. Creamy leave-ins are far superior to liquid leave-ins during relaxer stretches.
- If all else fails.....use a blowdryer to blow-out your roots. This is NOT highly suggested. In fact, if you feel you have to resort to using direct heat on a regular basis to stretch, END YOUR STRETCH. Do not risk heat damage. If you opt to blow out your roots, do so on a LOW heat setting.
Listen to your hair. If you feel that you are experiencing increased breakage, END YOUR STRETCH. As good as stretching is for your hair (and your wallet), it can be equally detrimental.
Remember, one week prior to relaxing (or the shampoo right before your next touch up) do a hard protein treatment on your hair followed by an intense deep moisturizing treatment this will help reinforce and strengthen your strands for the relaxing process.
So there you have it! Happy stretching!!!
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Here are some pics of my hair at 60 weeks post...