6 Ways To Stretch Natural Hair Without Heat

Heating hair as a naturalista can really feel like rolling the dice. On one hand, you’re excited to see your hair straight, eager to check out how long it’s gotten, and looking forward to sporting a new look.
On the other, the risk of heat damage looms and you’re uncertain of whether your curls will bounce back once wash day comes around again—stories of unreturning curls are all too common.

Natural hair care is complicated, we know, that’s why knowing how to stretch natural hair without heat is a skill that all curly girls should know. Ahead, learn six hair-stretching methods that fight hair shrinkage sans heating your hair.

How Can I Stretch My Natural Hair Without Heat?
It’s important to understand why hair-stretching is important in the first place. Hair shrinkage, which describes the way hair contracts and appears shorter when it becomes dry or loses moisture, can completely alter the appearance of certain styles. That’s where hair-stretching comes in; it provides more length. And there are stretching options that don’t require having to apply any heat from tools such as blow dryers, flatirons, curling irons, etc.—the list goes on.

Before hair-stretching can begin, it’s crucial to properly prepare your hair. First, use a hydrating shampoo and conditioner. After rinsing and detangling, apply a hydrating hair treatment and styler like the Mimosa Hair Honey. Then, pick which stretching method you would like to take for a spin. Check out some of your options next.

Heat-Free Stretching Technique #1. Bantu Knots
This beautiful style is unique as it’s perfect to wear both during and after the styling process. To create, simply divide your hair into multiple sections (you can play with creative parts if desired) and tightly twist each one in a single motion until the hair begins to wrap around itself. This will create a twisted knot. To secure, use a small bobby pin, or if the hair is long enough, twist the ends of your curls around the base of the knot. Once completely dried, you can take the style down to reveal a spiraled look that’s defined, hydrated, and head-turning.

Heat-Free Stretching Technique #2. Flexi Rods
Chances are, you’ve seen this one before, and luckily, learning how to use flexi rods on natural hair is extremely easy. These easy-on-your-hair foam rods—which come in a variety of sizes—create a spiral-look that can truly foster the illusion of hair that’s been treated with heat. However, heating hair for this look is completely unnecessary.

Simply coat a small section of hair in a styling cream like the Black Vanilla Moisture & Shine Hair Smoothie (because remember, hydration is always key), and wrap it around the rod. Because the rods are flexible, you can curve the bottom end upward to secure it in place. We recommend styling your curls in the morning and allowing them to dry and set during the day. Reason being, the bulky nature of flexi rods can make a comfortable sleeping situation a challenge to achieve. To remove the rods once they’ve set, curve their ends back downward, and unravel them from your hair following the pattern of the spiral.

Heat-Free Stretching Technique #3. Perm Rods
Rendering a look similar to that of flexi rods, perm rods also come in various sizes for different hair-stretching results. However, the rod by which the hair is wrapped around is much smaller, creating a more defined and tighter style. Follow the same process you would for flexi rods, and secure with the end attachment, stretching it from one end of the rod to another, and locking it in place. To undo, remove the lock and unravel the hair following the pattern of the spiral curl. For a larger, more voluminous look, separate each curl multiple times, and use a pick to fluff up the roots.

Heat-Free Stretching Technique #4. Twist Out
This style, which is easy-as-can-be, can be worn in two styles: one, with the twists still intact, and the other with the braids undone, revealing a defined wave. In addition, you don’t have to be a hair expert to DIY the look. Simply create even parts on the hair. Twist with two strands, and secure the end by twirling it around your finger, and sealing with a little oil for added moisture and hydration.

The style can be worn for up to a week, or can be unraveled once dry for a curled look that’s voluminous and defined. To maintain while you sleep, pineapple the curls. This simply includes piling all of your hair on top of your head, and securing it with a silk scarf around the perimeter.

Heat-Free Stretching Technique #5. Braid Out
A braid out is nearly the same process as that of a twist out. Except, rather than creating two-strand twists, you weave traditional three-strand braids. The end result will be more of a wave, rather than the spirals that come from a twist out. Make the sections as large or small as you’d like, and once dry, you’ll have a look that can last you more than a week. If you want to extend its lifespan, place your hair in larger braids at night, and tuck under a satin bonnet, undoing it in the morning.

Heat-Free Stretching Technique #6. Banding
Banding isn’t necessarily a form of styling that will result in a look you’ll want to show off, but it’s the perfect method to use if you want to stretch the hair even further. In essence, you use multiple hair bands to create tension, stretching the hair down the shaft. Split your hair into sections and secure each one with a ponytail holder at the base. From there, place multiple hair bands going down each section—about every inch and a half—before banding the ends. Leave the bands on the hair until completely dry, and style as desired

Next: Before you try these methods of hair-stretching, find out more about the science of shrinkage for curly hair and how to keep your curls as elongated as possible.

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