Banding Natural Hair | No Heat Method to Stretch Curls

by Kristal C
How to banding natural hair

Although heat is a quick and convenient way to stretch your natural hair, you risk irreversible damage if used improperly. However, with a little planning, you can achieve a good stretch without cranking up any heat. Banding natural hair is a popular no-heat method for stretching your curls while minimizing damage and breakage.

We are no strangers to banding our natural hair. I have been using this technique even before my daughter was born to stretch my short to medium length hair. Even now with longer hair, my daughter and I both employ the banding method to stretch our hair. Another nice perk is that banding can even double as a protective style! As a busy mom, I find myself wearing single or two banded ponytails as a part of my hair stretching and weekly low maintenance styling regimen.

In this guide, you will learn:

  • What is banding and its benefits
  • How to band all natural hair types and length
  • What to do with your hair after banding

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Banding Natural Hair Tips

1. Banding Natural Hair: What is it?

Banding is simply the process of elongating your natural hair texture by using bands or ties. It is a great alternative to heat stretching and many natural women use banding as a precursor to styling their natural hair. A benefit of banding natural hair is that it isn’t time-consuming to apply the bands to your hair. However, the process does require some air-drying time which for most can take anywhere from a few hours to overnight (and some cases even longer). Several factors affect drying time such as:

  • Number of banded sections
  • Spacing of bands/ties
  • Hair Thickness/Length
  • Products Used
  • Hair Porosity

Benefits of Banding

With the right planning, banding can give you the stretch you are looking for to meet your hair needs. Banding has the following benefits:

  • Can be used on any curly hair type
  • Can be applied on shorter to longer length hair
  • Requires little skill to do
  • Helps reduces tangles and knots by keeping the hair elongated
  • Can serve as a protective or low maintenance style
  • Ideal for naturals who prefer to refrain from any type of heat application on their hair
No Heat Stretching Method Natural Hair

2. How to Band Any Natural Hair Type and Length

Tools Needed for Banding

The Steps to Banding

Banding can be done on both damp and dry hair depending on the effect you are aim for after the process. Both options are explained below.

On Damp Hair

When it comes to getting an effective no-heat stretch, many naturals band on damp hair. Banding on hair that is damp allows your curl to set in a more stretched state once the hair has dried. Whenever banding on damp hair, you want to make sure your hair is thoroughly free of knots and tangles. Having kinks after your hair is dry creates more work than necessary. Additionally detangling your hair in a dry state can lead to tension and breakage, which is what we want to avoid. Therefore, detangling prior banding is your best bet for smoother elongated strands.

Preparation Before Banding

Whenever we plan to band our natural hair, we go through our entire wash day routine prior. In short, this basic routine involves:

  • Washing the hair
  • Conditioning
  • Detangling (Read our ultimate detangling guide HERE)
  • Moisturizing and sealing

Banding Process

Once these steps have been completed, you are ready to band. Here are the steps:

  1. Section your natural hair. The parting for the sections does not need neat, just relatively equal so the hair can dry at the same time.
  2. Working with one section, typically in the back, clip away all the other sections.
  3. Secure the base of the section with a band.
  4. Detangle the section once more to ensure it is tangle free.
  5. Starting near the base, begin adding ties/bands along the length of the section. You can space them as close or far away depending on the desired amount of stretch.
  6. Once you reach the end of the section, you can twist, braid, or twirl the last inch or two to keep it tangled free as the hair dries (or you can band to the very tip if you would like). The important fact is to protect those ends!
  7. Repeat on the other sections, spritzing your hair slightly if it gets too dry.
Banding Natural Hair

After the Hair Dries

After your hair is dry, simply (but carefully) remove the bands from each section starting from the ends and working your way toward the base. Using your fingers or a wide-toothed comb, separate/fluff out the section (ends to roots). Repeat with the other sections. Finally, you can proceed to style your hair or wear your stretched style for a faux blowout look.

On Dry Hair

Some women use banding as a way to elongate hair that has already been styled such as wash ‘n go’s, twist outs, and braid outs. The same concept applies here for banding on dry hair. Carefully separate the hair in sections and apply bands starting from the base to the ends (or stopping anywhere you choose along the section). In a few hours, your hairstyle will be stretched giving your style more length/volume.

Control Your Level of Stretch

You can control the level of stretch achieved via banding by keeping certain factors in mind. For a deep stretch, consider the following:

  • Create more sections (the smaller the sections, the more consistent the stretch)
  • Use more bands or hair ties along the section of hair (closely spacing the bands allows more of the section to be stretched)
  • Wait until hair is 100% dry (this reduces the likelihood of shrinkage due to damp portions of the hair)

Alternatively, if you want a slight stretch to make styling easier but desire some hair texture, you can use any of the following (or a combination) choices to achieve this:

  • Create bigger sections
  • Spaced bands/ties farther apart
  • Remove bands/ties when hair is almost fully dry (but not completely)

3. How To Band Natural Hair Video

4. What to Do After Banding Your Natural Hair

You have two options after banding your natural hair:

Style Your Stretched Hair

This is the main point of banding in the first place for many women and kids. There are many styles you can do on your stretched hair:

  • Twists/braids (which will look substantially longer in length depending on the amount of shrinkage you have)
  • Cornrows/flat twists (which are typically easier to do on stretched hair)
  • Flat-iron (which works best after stretching your hair either with heat or no-heat to help reduce the number of passes used with the flat iron)
  • Bantu knots (which will look smoother)
  • Twist out/Braid out/Bantu knot out (which will look longer versus doing these styles on damp hair)
  • Bun(s)
  • Faux blow out
Natural Hair Faux Blow Out

Virtually, the possibilities are endless. Generally, styling on stretched hair gives your hair a different hang, flow, feel, and sheen versus styling on damp/shrunken hair.

Wear as a Low Maintenance Hair Style

Banded Buns Natural Hairstyle

Whenever I need a break from twists or need something quick and protective to do, I love to band my hair into one or two sections. Banding this way gives me the option of wearing my banded ponytails down or into a bun (or two buns). Usually my hair lasts a week in this type of style which makes perfect timing for my weekly wash day appointment. The thing I like most about wearing this simple style is that banding literally saves me so much time detangling during my wash routine. With my hair stretched and unbothered for a week, it only takes me about 10 minutes to go through my one or two sections of hair with my Tangle Teezer to remove shed hairs. Then I am done!

5. The Wrap Up

Hope this banding guide gives you another tool to use in your natural hair care arsenal. Heat is not something that has to be avoided when it comes to stretching your curls. However, it is good to have the option to stretch your hair without having to resort to heat everytime and risking your hair to damage and breakage.

As long as you plan time for your hair to air-dry, banding is an easy and very effective method to elongate your texture. We all know that stretched hair is easier to handle when styling and promotes less tangles and knots compared to styling on shrunken hair. Obtaining stretched hair without heat is a double win not only for natural women but for the kids who do not like all that heat and detangling.

And you never know, you might find yourself wearing the bands out in a hairstyle for a day or two (or week in my case).

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