A curled & textured bob is a look. But sometimes we want to stretch our springy curls for luscious locks that flow over our shoulders like a bubbling waterfall.
If your natural hair shies away from showing off its true length, you can boost your curls’ confidence with hair stretching techniques that add bounce to every lock.
With your breathtaking curls in mind, we’ve composed this 101 guide on how to stretch natural hair from root to tip, and we’ve included a few gravity-defying natural hair styling products, too.
First Things First: Your Pre-Stretching Hair Care Routine
Before stretching natural hair, you’ll always want to start with detangled, moisturized curls as elongation methods tend to suck the moisture from your hair.
Tangles are best tackled in the shower with three trusty detangling tools:
- A moisturizing shampoo – It lathers, it cleans, & it infuses every lock with hydration to nourish every curl. We infuse our Hydration Shampoo with aloe leaf juice, coconut oil & honey to prevent protein loss & bolster your hair with definition.
- A pro-curl conditioner – Those with a tight pattern can benefit from a product like PATTERN’s Intensive Conditioner that’s overflowing with avocado oil, shea butter, safflower oil & acacia decurrens flower. Its sweet floral notes only pale in comparison to the otherworldly curls they inspire.
- A delicate comb – Using a comb like PATTERN’s Wide Tooth Comb can detangle your curls without deflating them. Simply split your hair into sections & gently work the comb through your hair until you can effortlessly glide the teeth from your roots to your ends.
For curls that need some extra love, introduce our Treatment Mask into your hair care routine. To ensure your hair benefits from every drop, throw a warm towel or shower cap over your locks to lock in moisture & prepare them for stretching.
Can I Stretch My Curls Without Damaging Them?
Of course. Start with damp, moisturized hair. Stretching with sultry locks improves the integrity (& longevity) of your curls, without sacrificing your hair’s health. Luckily, you don’t have to resign to just one stretching method—there are five to choose from that you can customize to your curlies, coilies, or tight textures.
This method is a hair-friendly way to prevent sneaky curl shrinkage & tangles as you sleep. It consists of placing hair ties down the length of wet, sectioned hair & taking them out once dry.
All you’ll need is a set of hair ties:
- Separate your detangled, damp hair into at least three to four sections.
- Take one section & run your hands down it a few times to stretch it.
- Grab a hair tie & wrap it a few times around the base of the section.
- Continue wrapping down the length of your hair, keeping the remaining hair taught & adding as many bands as necessary.
- Leave out the ends of your hair & repeat with all sections.
Knowing how to stretch curls with a hair tie allows you to tweak the density & thickness of your curls, especially if you leave your locks unbanded at the bottom.
#2 Hair Threading
Similar to banding, hair threading involves wrapping multiple sections of your hair with thread to stretch it. This protective & hair growth-promoting style originates from sub-Saharan African communities.1
Follow the same process as banding but replace the hair tie or elastic band with a string or even double-upped sewing thread.
You’ll be left with straighter & lengthier locks, compared to the tighter curls of banding. That’s because you’re applying more pressure along the length of each section.
#3 Blow-Drying Method
The blow-drying method fully maximizes your curls’ stretching potential & it’s a natural-hair favorite for good reason. To achieve this look, you’ll apply heat to your damp hair. Although, you can set your hair dryer on its cool setting to easily prevent natural hair breakage:
- Tie your hair into several sections & set your hair dryer to your desired setting.
- Take one section & gently pull from the ends until it is at its maximum length.
- Hold the blow dryer at an angle so that the air blows down the entire length of your hair.
- Try to cup your hand over each section’s ends, protecting them from the heat & keeping them as coily & natural as possible.
- Move the blow dryer around each section until dry.
If you haven’t tried this method before, you may be shocked at the exquisitely long locks that you’re left with. In the following days, we recommend maintaining length with the banding method as you sleep.
#4 Braid & Twist Outs
Another easy no-heat method to stretch your curls is by twisting or braiding sections of your hair. Once you get the hang of these methods, you’ll be left with defined & plump curls upon removal.
The process is very similar to our previous stretching methods:
- Run moisturizer through your curls with your hands or a wide-tooth comb.
- Grab a section of hair for your first twist & gently separate it into two or three pieces.
- Start your first twist as close to your head as possible to create a strong base.
- As you twist or braid, comb your fingers through your hair to prevent tangles & achieve maximum length.
- Repeat throughout your hair in even sections, twirling the end of each twist or braid to close it off.
- When it comes time to take out your twists, start from the bottom of your hair.
Small twists & braids with a lot of tension can give you more length whereas larger, looser braids & twists can give you a looser texture but less stretch.2 The longer the twists have time to work their magic on your hair, the more defined they’ll be upon untwisting.
#5 Hand Method
If you’re in a crunch for time, apply a bit of hair oil on your fingertips, run your hands through your curls & tugging little by little throughout your hair. You can also enlist a wide-toothed comb to assist in stretching.
This method will give you a quick, temporary stretch for easy on-the go length.
Meet Your Strongest, Longest Hair with PATTERN
As you play around with these methods and learn how to stretch curly hair, don’t forget to keep them as juicy & moisturized as possible—even braiding and banding can dry out your hair. To lock in moisture and create delicious voluminous curls, seal the deal with plenty of hydrating oils, such as our Jojoba Oil Blend or Argan Oil Blend.
At PATTERN, we believe curly hair care is not just a routine, but a ritual. All of our curly hair products have been crafted with ingredients that saturate every curl with buoyancy and decadent formulas packed with coconut oil, aloe vera & honey.
Treat your curls to something delicious with PATTERN.
- "3 Wonderful Benefits of African Threading Every Natural Should Know." Mary n Rose. https://marynrose.com/african-threading/
- Moore, Cortney. "How to Safely Stretch Natural Hair Without Heat." Byrdie. Updated on 17 March, 2022. https://www.byrdie.com/how-to-stretch-natural-hair-4777821