Sunday, January 27, 2013

7 Tips To Successfully Stretch Your Relaxer

I think it's safe to say that I have successfully been stretching my relaxers for the past year or so. When I first started my hair journey stretching my relaxer for any length of time would send me into a frenzy because I was convinced that my hair was not capable of going great lengths of time without a relaxer. So instead of learning how to deal with my hair I relied on braids to get me through every stretch. Well once I graduated from college and moved away from home that was not an option any more. With a lot of trial and error and a bit of frustration mixed in between I've finally learned how to successfully stretch my hair. I've put a lot of thought into these tips and believe that they can work for anyone trying to stretch their hair whether it be for 8 weeks or 6 months.
  1. LISTEN to your hair. Your hair will let you know what it needs when it needs it. It's up to YOU to listen. Sometimes while stretching your hair may need a bit more moisture or a bit more protein. Or maybe it just wants to be left alone with minimal manipulation. The signs are always there. Learning to listen and figure out what your hair needs can make a huge difference in length retention and avoiding setbacks. 
  2. Be CONSISTENT! I can't stress this enough. Early on in my hair journey I was constantly trying a new method, a new wash day routine, the frequency of my washes, etc. I was so all over the place that my hair was not growing and thriving to it's maximum potential. Now I'm not saying that you can't try a new product or method every now and then, but your hair needs consistency. If you want to try some new products or methods I would suggest only trying one at a time. This way you'll be able to monitor any changes both good or bad in your and immediately be able to pinpoint the cause if necessary. 
  3. Eliminate Excessive MANIPULATION: The further you get along in your relaxer stretch the more difficult it may be to manipulate your hair. With that increased difficulty comes a greater risk of breakage, unnecessary shedding, and possible thinning. For me personally the easiest way to avoid this is to manipulate my hair very little within the last few weeks leading up to my relaxer.  Combing, brushing, detangling, and even styling can all be considered forms of excessive manipulation if you're not careful. My advice is to do them in moderation with care and patience. 
  4. Deep Condition Regularly- I don't think there's anybody's hair whether it be relaxed, texlaxed, or natural that doesn't enjoy Deep conditioners! What deep conditioning does for the hair during relaxer stretches is it helps to soften the new growth while leaving the hair smooth, soft, and manageable. I think weekly deep conditioning treatments are definitely necessary to have a successful relaxer stretch. 
  5. Be PATIENT! Stretching your relaxer is not always an easy process and definitely can have it's frustrating moments, but adding a little bit of patience to the mix goes a long way. 
  6. Know Your Hair's LIMITS: Just because someone else can stretch with no damage for 85 million months does not mean that you can. Find a stretch time that works for your hair. For example, I've tried long term stretches (3-6 months) and found that my length retention was a lot less than when I just stretched for 10 weeks. So now my stretch time is 10 weeks. 
  7. What Works For Your Relaxed Hair May Not Work For Your New Growth! I found out early on in my hair journey that just because my relaxed hair loved my moisturizer didn't mean that my new growth did. Often times, my moisturizer of choice would leave my new growth feeling sahara desert dry. Currently I use Giovanni Direct Leave in for my relaxed hair and a castor oil/EVOO mix for my new growth. 
Mastering relaxer stretching can take some time and practice, but I truly believe that following these 7 tips make the process much easier. Happy growing :)

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