Recently, I installed Z’s second set of box braids. The process went so much faster this time around than the first set of braids. To prepare her hair for the box parting, I made sure to stretch it considerably from root to tip. Z’s hair is very long so getting a good stretch without imposing too much heat and manipulation is a task these days. I used the tension method, which continues to produce consistent results. I have gotten better with stretching her hair close to her roots without having direct heat so close to her scalp/hair. Z is still very tender headed. Therefore, she appreciates not having a comb constantly running through her hair and scalp.
Why the Tension Method versus Banding and African Threading?
I do not stretch Z’s hair often because her styles have been pretty much
Difference in Stretching Methods Gallery
I typically use the tension method on freshly washed and deep conditioned hair. Learning from my own experiences, applying heat on already dried and dirty hair is a formula for breakage and damage. Lesson learned. Here is an infographic of the steps I use for the stretching process:
Important Advice to Literally Prevent a Headache
Before applying heat, it is pertinent that the hair is completely detangled from tip to root. Using the tension method with partially detangled hair makes working through the hair
Hope this helps give you an idea of the different stretching methods for natural hair and why we like the tension method. In short, banding and threading give a no heat good stretch but require overnight drying. The tension method provides a more “instant” stretching results but obviously requires heat. You have to make the choice based on your specific need. Nevertheless, stretched hair makes styling so much easier especially for cornrowing, braiding, and flat-ironing natural hair.
What stretching methods work for you? Do you have a method I did not mention? Please do share below! After all these years, we still enjoy learning new things about natural hair!
Update: We Just Found a Tool that Out Beats the Tension Method!
We actually found another stretching method for natural hair that we like even better than the tension method! We stumbled across a tool that actually speeds up the stretching process greatly. Check out this post here for details of what we used and let us know what you think!