Hair Care

Why We Keep Our Natural Hair Stretched

By Choya Randolph

When I went natural, I always kept my hair stretched because it was easier to style. When you have type 4 hair, the shrinkage is real. Your hair in its natural state will look like a TWA (teeny weeny afro) but once you whip out that blow dryer, the inches start to come to life. This is when I’d get creative with styling my hair. But after awhile, I noticed that I was always wearing my hair in a high puff. I just didn’t have enough time for the buns and braids. 

One day, I messed up. After washing, I did not stretch or detangle my hair. At that point, I had some inches so the shrinkage didn’t bother me too much. I looked in the mirror and was really feeling myself. I thought to myself “Why do I have to stretch my hair anyway? I should love my hair in its natural state. I’m tired of doing alladat stretching and detangling anyway.” So after I hopped out of the shower, I threw some cream in my hair, put my crown in a high puff and was out the door. But this was a mistake, a big one.

Not only did I skip detangling and stretching, I didn’t even properly LOC. My hair was thirsty and begging for some deep conditioning. But as a lazy natural, do you know what I did instead? I just put on more product, hoping that’d quench my hair’s thirst. For my naturals with low porosity hair like myself, you know that this too was a mistake. The product built up quickly and my hair required another wash way sooner than usual. Here I was skipping steps to make my hair care regimen easier but it was only making my routine harder.

When I took my hair out its high puff, sis was STIFF. My hair wasn’t even tangled. She was MATTED. My hair required some serious detangling but I was not in the mood for that kind of arm workout. Easy to say, I impatiently detangled which left me with a bunch of breakage. Not stretching my hair was a lesson I learned the hard way. Let’s go over my mistakes and why you shouldn’t make the same ones.

I skipped a bunch of wash day steps because I felt like my hair didn’t need to be stretched. Skipping this step left me with a MESS. Stretching our hair is important because of our hair texture. Our kinky hair strands love each other so much that they get all close and cozy with each other. This leads to tangles which can lead to breakage. If you have type 4 hair, your hair may get tangled easier because the tighter the coil, the easier it is for the hair to get matted. 

When our hair is in its natural state, we experience shrinkage because our coils are its tightest. To combat our coils getting tangled, we detangle. You can finger detangle, use a denman brush, comb, or whatever works for your hair. But to keep our hair from tangling up again, we stretch our hair by putting it in twists, braids, bantu knots or blow drying it. When doing this, we’re detangling, stretching, and prepping our hair for styling. 

The longer our hair gets, the more we have to take care of it. This additional work makes lazy naturals like myself more susceptible to skipping steps. For the naturals rocking a TWA, not stretching your hair may not have serious consequences. But once your hair starts to get shoulder length, you simply must stretch your hair to avoid tangles and breakage. I know that all these steps can seem tedious but stretching our hair shows how eclectic our crown can be. That variety is one of the reasons why we should love our hair by not skipping any steps.

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