Was that in high school or college? Hmm…I honestly really do not remember the last time I actually bought a styling tool for our natural hair besides the standard combs/brushes. And definitely not anything specifically for the task of stretching natural hair.
But I made a recent styling tool purchase that totally blew my expectations upon using it. Like, I never imagined stretching Z’s natural hair would be any quicker and less painful (she’s tender
**And it did not even blow my budget.**
I am hooked. Hooked. Hooked. But before we jump into that, here’s the rundown of this past weekend’s hair day. (Feel free to scroll down and use the table of contents to jump to the main reason you are likely on this post
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The Box Braid Take Down
This past weekend, I went through the task of taking down Z’s 7
I seriously had to check back on this post to remember when I installed this past set of box braids. Ha!
Taking down this set of box braids was a bit more challenging than her first set of braids although this set was bigger and with fewer braids.
I believe the main culprit was keeping her braids in just a tad too long. 6 weeks is likely the optimal timeframe for Z to have box braids in her hair at one time. Anything longer it seems we have great a job on our hands,
Nevertheless, we got the process done in two days. The first day was after school last Thursday. We were feeling ambitious but after one hour, we called it quits. We decided to finish over the weekend.
She did rock this t-shirt wrap to school Friday to disguise the only section we managed to unbraid in the front. She came home beaming because she received so many compliments from teachers and classmates that day.
This weekend, we took down her remaining her extensions following this list of time saving tips for braid removal.
The take down process took about 3.5 hours to do. Whew!
But good thing was that this time frame included detangling. Therefore, that was one less step to do during the wash process.
After detangling and rinsing out all the conditioner from her hair (used during the braid removal), I proceeded to wash Z’s hair. I used my tried and true Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Castile Soap diluted in water in a nozzle bottle.
I love diluting shampoo this way and applying it with a nozzle bottle because it:
- is cost-effective…shampoo is stretched over many more washes
- thins out the shampoo for better distribution throughout the hair
- is easy to apply the thinner cleansing solution directly to the scalp via the nozzle for thorough cleansing
I use this technique every time I was our hair and am never lacking the suds from the shampoo.
First Time Bentonite Clay Masque Treatment
Following washing, I decided to try something different. I spotted some packs of Cantu Bentonite Clay Hair and Scalp Masque at Walmart and under $1.50 per pack. I never got into the clay hair masques in my hair journey, but the Bentonite clay supposedly has
Sounds good after 7 weeks of box braids! Two packs of the masque were used on Z’s hair to ensure full coverage.
The instructions stated leaving the masque on for 10 minutes. However, by the time I got through her entire head, 40 minutes had passed.
As instructed in the directions, I rinsed Z’s hair with cool water.
Man, this was just. plain. torture. Poor, Z.
But these results though! Here are before and after pics following the bentonite clay mask below. Her hair had definitely lifted a great deal compared to before the clay application. The verdict is still out on the long term effect this masque will have on her hair. For now, we are in trial and error mode.
I still have two packs remaining. I will the clay again in a few weeks to see if we achieve comparable results.
At last! The final step in the wash process was a 10-minute deep treatment with Cantu under our Hot Head Heat Cap.
Now it’s time to share how to stretch natural hair after washing. I’m so giddy!
Tried and Trusted Stretching Natural Hair Techniques We Used
At this point in Z’s hair journey–with her current length and thickness–it is best for me to stretch her hair each time before styling. Although her hair is so long and thick (especially at the roots), her strands are yet fine. Doing her hair damp would likely lead to more breakage than we would like.
Now that her head has filled in with SO much hair, we have graduated to the tension method over the past couple years. This method is gentler than using constant direct heat on her hair and works great to stretch her hair, especially at the roots.
I do wonder how nice it would be to stretch natural hair without heat in 10 minutes. Life would be too good then!
What is This Wonder of a Contraption?
While randomly browsing around on a few of my fave natural hair channels, I came across this particular video by Naptural85 (posted below). She demonstrated using some sort of blow dryer/brush combo contraption to stretch out her beautiful and thick long hair.
Talk about blown away! How this tool stretched her thick natural hair in a short amount of time beyond amazed me. Check it out yourself!
A little disclaimer here: I am all for minimal heat. I do not recommend using heat on a daily or even weekly basis without understanding the amount of stress and damage heat can put on natural hair if not appropriately managed.
But for a heat stretching technique that can be applied on a monthly or longer basis is fine as long as you properly restore moisture/protein balance of the hair to prevent irreversible heat damage.
With that said, I was just that convinced from Naptural85’s results to actually buy the Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer & Styler Brush for myself locally for $40 and see how it works for our hair.
Since the heat from this Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer & Styler Brush
I definitely need you
Stretching Z’s Natural Hair with Our New Tool
To prep for stretching using the styler brush, I divided Z’s hair into small sections starting from the back. I lightly sprayed the heat protectant on every detangled section before applying heat as I worked toward the top of her head. I utilized the styler brush just as Naptural85 did in her video above.
Video Demonstration of the Styler Brush in Action
Y’all, this brush is the bomb.com. I am flabbergasted! See how streamlined our process was with the styler brush? Although the video’s in hyperlapse mode, that entire quarter of Z’s hair took less than 10 minutes to dry and stretch. Easy peasy. Peep out these results:
Following blow drying Z’s hair, I used the Revlon Ceramic 1 inch Flat Iron to lightly straighten her hair under 2 passes @ 305 degrees Fahrenheit.
After some reflection, I believe one reason detangling has been such a task over the past few months is that Z has been due for a good trim. Therefore, I cut off between 1.5 to 2.5 inches of hair to help balance the length of her hair overall. The front of her hair grows more quickly than the back, which explains the 2.5 inches pieces of hair being chopped off.
She still has over 14 inches of hair length. I plan to do regular mini trims every 2 months to keep up with the health of her ends. Hopefully, this will improve our detangling and styling sessions overtime.
Style of the Week: Flat Twist Updo
By this time, it was late so I had to do something quick and easy to get is through this week. I sectioned off her hair in the back half and did some criss-cross
I created four cornrows in the front half of her head and sectioned the front portion into two sections. Her hair in the back half was gathered into the two front sections to create a braided bun. This took no more than 1.5 hours. But after a long hair day, we were definitely pooped.
Here are the results:
During the upcoming three day weekend, I plan to convert this flat ironed updo into a half cornrow and half twist set. End of grade testing is coming up as well as the end of school year festivities. I would like the next style to be the last one of Z’s fourth grade school year.