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FEATURES Jun 28 2012 2:56AM

Make It Last: 4 Ways to Stretch Stretched Hair

by Christina Brown, LoveBrownSugar.com
Whether you finally took the press & curl plunge or you’re embarking on your first blow-out since the Big Chop, applying heat to your newly formed curls might prove to be both a traumatic and nerve-wrecking process. I still remember my first blow-out post Big Chop, and being scared out of my mind that my one-year heat-free regimen could possibly be ruined by one fell swoop of the pressing comb. Don’t let fear of heat damage prevent you from enjoying life on the straight side. As long as you use the proper heat protectant, and you work with a stylist who knows how to care for your hair type, blow-outs and presses should be a cinch.
If you’re like me, once you have a press or a blow-out, you want it to last for quite a while because chances are, you won’t be doing it again anytime soon. If this sounds like you, keep reading. Here are my top five strategies for stretching a pressed or blown-out style beyond the first few days:
1.    Be wary of water – You remember this from your relaxed days. Water is not your friend when you’re rocking a press and curl. By all means, if you want your press to last, avoid water and humidity like the plague. Tip: For daily workout divas, don’t stress! You too can preserve your press if you let it all hang out. Don’t wrap your hair before working out or put your hair in a pony that’s too tight. Loose ponytails and/or no ponytails are best. You want to allow the sweat to evaporate naturally from your scalp instead of being soaked up by your press and curl.

2.    Wrap it up – Don’t go to bed without a little silk on your strands. The best way to preserve your press is to make sure it’s either in curlers, pin-curled or wrapped (depending on your style preference) before bed and that it’s protected by either a silk scarf, bonnet or pillowcase.

3.    Keep it stretched – Once you get tired of the pin curls or the bone-straight look, switch it up with light waves (à la Tracee Ellis Ross) by doing braid-outs and bantu knot–outs on stretched hair. Not only will this switch up your look and give you volume, braids help keep your curls stretched to the max.

4.    Go light on the product – Since water-spritzing is out of the question (see tip No. 1), you really have to be careful of overdosing on styling product. The cleaner your hair is, the longer your press will last. Reduce product build-up and oily hair by choosing a light leave-in conditioner and oil to moisturize your hair with. When your hair is curly, it’s more prone to dryness and therefore more product is needed to retain moisture. Remember that when your strands are straight, product travels, and stays. So save the heavy hand for your curly days.
With these tips, you’ll be on your way to maintaining your straight styles for longer than ever. Just be wary of stretching hair for too long. One to two weeks is more than enough time. Your hair needs H20 and your scalp needs cleansing, so pay attention to what your hair is telling you and keep the stretching sessions reasonable for maximum hair health. 


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