Wednesday, 5 March 2014

How To: Stretch your relaxer

As most of you know, I am a serial stretcher. Pre-HHJ I used to stretch for 12 weeks. Then when I started my HHJ I started doing 16-20 week stretches. This time, I'm on my biggest challenge yet, my 26 week (6 month stretch).

First, some of you may be thinking what the heck is stretching? Stretching is simply the art of having longer periods in between your relaxer touch ups. Most relaxer manufacturers advise on doing a touch up at least 6-8 weeks after a previous relaxer service. Most stretchers do their relaxers after 12 weeks, but some may stretch for up to a year.

A major advantage of stretching is that you will do your relaxer touch up when you have plenty of growth. This will prevent  overlapping (getting relaxer onto already relaxed hair). This helps to keep your hair stronger, and it will be less likely to break off. This will aid in retaining your length, and you can grow healthy relaxed hair to unbelievable lengths.

Like anything else, too much of  a good thing can cause harm. For example, stretching for too long without handling your hair right will lead to breakage, and matting. This may actually lead to a setback, so what you really need to do is stretch wisely. If you are a newbie to stretching, just add an extra week to the time you normally wait before getting your next touch up. If you normally wait for 4 weeks, wait for 5 weeks then you can do your next relaxer. Keep on adding a week until you get to what you view as your ultimate stretching period. This will ensure that you learn how to look after your new growth, and the line of demarcation (the area on your hair strand where your different hair textures i.e. relaxed and new growth meet).

So my tips for stretching (from my experience) are:

1. Moisture (water) is your new best friend. I usually up my moisture when I am at 8 weeks post, because that's when my new growth goes all crazy. Deep condition at least once a week, moisturize and seal almost every day, and baggy/GHE. One of my faves for when I am deep into a stretch is letting a hot, damp towel sit over my hair and just steam my hair for a few minutes. This gives my hair a moisture boost, and I can manipulate it without fearing breakage. Co-washing is also a good way to get moisture into your hair.

2. Heat should be an acquaintance. I use direct heat more frequently when I am 12+ weeks post relaxer. The first time I did a 16 week stretch, I ended up with hair that was matting. So I went to Hairlista, and got advice from fellow Listas to use heat a bit more often to stretch out the new growth and keep it smoother. And by heat, I don't mean break out your flat iron every day. Just do a blow dry n the cool setting at most once a week. I normally blow dry every 2 weeks. Don't forget to use heat protectant.

3. Less use of combs. I reduce the use of my wide tooth comb when I am deep into a stretch. I finger detangle during the week using coconut oil, and only use my comb when I'm doing my major wash day once a week to just get rid of all the shed hair. This helps to protect my fragile line of demarcation and reduce the amount of breakage I get, allowing for more length retention.

4. Protective style, protective style and protective style. Its the easiest way to stretch your relaxer. Hiding your hair means there is a lot less manipulation, and therefore little harm to your line of demaracation. But you have to remember that hiding your hair doesn't mean neglecting it. Moisturise and seal, clean your scalp and deep condition, so that you can retain your length. Also watch how the protective style is installed. It shouldn't be too tight as it might lead to traction alopecia . And the protective style shouldn't break off your hair either. Remember not to leave it on for too long as it might lead to this

BIG CHOP anyone??? - Hair Care for Protective Styles

5. Quit while you are still ahead. I just had to repeat myself. Once you notice extreme shedding or breakage, do your touch up. Don't keep stretching because you want to meet a calendar goal. Always listen to your hair. For example, during my last stretch (at almost 18 weeks post) I started experiencing some extreme shedding, and I knew the time had come to end my stretch.

Happy stretching.



  1. If I got a touch up at 8 weeks then how long do I have to wait to get my new relaxer not a touch up? Could I relax my hair at 12 weeks or 14 weeks, and I'm a newbie to stretching.

    1. Hi Jasmine. If you are a newbie to stretching, my suggestion would be to add two weeks to your usual waiting period for a touch up. Since you usually relax after 8 weeks, you would wait for 10 weeks until your next touchup. By gradually adding on the two weeks, you will be able to easily find the length of time you need to stretch and not experience any damage. I hope this helps :)

  2. hi, i relax my hair once a year and i wanted to know wether it is wise to do so putting in mind that my hair is very course and strong as well. i have also notice that my hair has stopped growing at armpit lengh and may this be the cause of it nt growin anymore

    1. Hi Erica. Can you tell me how you look after your hair in between your relaxers? Maybe email me at and I will help you out :)

  3. Good day. I have fine hair and I have tried to stretch on couple of occasions. this time I have decided to stretch for 5 months. I have not experienced any setbacks in particular, no shedding and no breakage as far as I can see. I relaxed the beginning of august so it means I am 13 weeks post. Now I have seen a small amount of growth and that was very soon. I have been taking my vitamins, biotin, vegetal silica, flax oil, msm, omega 3,6,5,9 plus other supplements. I also have been eating a really healthy diet and making the most healthy smoothies with either fruits or veg or both and I tend to add flaxseed, Chinese chlorella, probiotic yogurt, protein powder etc. I wash my hair weekly and do a deep condition alternating with protein and moisture then once a month I use hard protein of egg. also use things like aloe vera and tuna cactus. I use a natural leave-in conditioner, I moisturize with shealoe , seal with coconut oil and costor oil (focus on ends as I seal and moisturize) every night. I use protective styles that I keep in every 2 weeks then wash I cover hair with silk scarf every night. I have notice my hair has thicken no longer thin and looks healthy. am I on the right track. I am look for growth. my hair was ear length and is now at the very bottom of my neck (the part that flows into the shoulder). am I on the right track. and is there more to do. I use all natural herbal organic products. my am to reach arm pit but the next step now is shoulder. how can I achieve this. pls help me. I am not sure if my hair is stagnant at the moment.