If you have type 4 hair, learning how to straighten natural hair is an easy way to add length to your hair whether you’ve always had natural hair or are stretching relaxers.
It can be frustrating to invest years growing only to see what appears to be little growth.
By not applying heat, your hair will be stronger, healthier and thicker. The results are gorgeous.
The Best Ways on How to stretch natural hair
One traditional method to stretch natural hair without heat is called a twist-out. It involves twisting sections of hair that are still damp after washing and have been conditioned.
The twists are left in overnight to thoroughly dry and removed the next day. This method is used to loosen curls, resulting in longer and defined curls. Different looks can be achieved by changing the size and direction of twist placement.
Twist outs are simple, easy to do and can easily be maintained for several days.
A variation of hair twists is called a “twist out”, where twisted hair is untwisted to create a large, loosely crimped texture, similar in appearance to hair crimping on Caucasian-textured hair that is ordinarily straight. (1)
Another common way is banding. Banding is an older method and has been used for generations.
This method starts out with sectioning the hair in a similar way as for twist outs. Only instead of twisting the hair, cotton yarn is wound around the section of hair leaving spaces.
Some people use two pieces of yarn, wrapping them around the section of hair, so they cross over each other like an “x.” Others people wind the yarn around the section of hair in a downward spiral.
Depending on how far apart each round of winding is, the result can be looser or tighter curls. Like the twist out method, banding should be done after washing and conditioning.
It also needs to be left overnight to dry. The yarn is removed the next day.
If twist outs or banding aren’t your preferred methods, you can also stretch natural hair with rollers. They offer the option to use in direct heat if you don’t want to wait to dry naturally.
Hair rollers provide the versatility to either stretch your hair to prepare it for styling or as a styling method in itself. They provide a convenient and quick way to stretching hair and do not require leaving them on overnight.
If you’re not wanting to wait the few hours to naturally dry, sitting underneath a hair dryer can speed up the process. It’s important to note that if you do choose to use to use a dryer, be sure to apply a heat protecting product such as HSI Professional thermal protector before rolling to minimize the damage that can occur.
It is not recommended to use heat frequently, but is ideal for special occasions or otherwise very rare situations.
It’s also possible to stretch your hair with a blow dryer. While this can be the most damaging of hair stretching methods, blow drying can make styling quick and is a helpful first step to getting ready for more involved styles.
The best option would be to blow dry your hair on low heat but high air flow and at the end use high heat. This way can be used to eliminate as much heat damage as possible since you wont have as many passes of high heat.
Again, it is suggested to prepare the hair by applying a heat protecting product before blow drying. To blow dry type 4 hair, try using a diffuser attachment and a stretching comb as they are designed to be gentle on the hair. The teeth are wider and move through the hair more quickly than combs with fine teeth.
Be sure to work your hair gently and not pull too hard. If you happen to find a knot, stop and gently pull the knot apart with your fingers. Once the knot has been removed, continue blow drying.
Using a Straightening Brush
As the hair is brushed, the heat will loosen curls. If a sleek and straight style is what your trying to achieve or if you’re preparing for a more detailed hairstyle, this might be an option for you.
Some models of straightening brushes offer the option of selecting the amount of heat needed which can be useful for hair types up to 4B. However, if your hair is a type 4C, the highest amount of heat is dangerously close to the degree to which hair will burn and may not be an option for you.
When straightening your hair, using the right tools can definitely make a difference between achieving a good result and an excellent result. It’s worth spending a little more to ensure your hair is protected from unnecessary damage.Hair clips should be smooth and not have sharp edges. Cheap metal clips can sometimes snag and weaken the strands. The same goes for hair ties.
Avoid ties with metal clasps and exposed rubber. These can easily snag and pull the hair resulting in breakage. Silicone and rubber ties are not recommended, but if they must be used, use care and try not to tie too tightly. I personally use the Goody Ouchless hair ties.
Keep Your Hair Conditioned
Regardless of the stretching method you choose, it’s important to keep your hair thoroughly moisturized and properly conditioned. Type 4 hair tends to be extra fragile. Constant manipulation and/or chemicals can make it dull, brittle and susceptible to falling out.
However, there is a ton of products to protect your hair. Conditioners help repair damage and also become stronger and more manageable.
Leave-in conditioners are ideal for every day. They are easy to apply and perfect for the girl on the go.
Deep conditioners are recommended if your hair is very damaged but a good rule of thumb to use at every wash. For moisturizing, natural oils such as coconut, olive, sweet almond and avocado oil are excellent at sealing in moisture and can be used on wet or dry hair. They also make good hot oil treatments.
A stretching cream is formulated to elongate curls and offer some definition so if you’re looking for bounce and shine after your twist-outs, a stretching cream may be for you. Even if you’re not using twist-outs, a stretching cream can help loosen tight curls, regardless of the method of stretching you use.
A product that I have been using for years to keep my curls from shrinking is Kinky Curly Curling Custard. I love this product because the ingredients are natural and it smells great. This custard is on the pricier side if you buy a large jar so I tend to buy the smaller one which last me a very long time. A small amount goes a long way, and that’s coming from me… who has waist length hair.
Look for products that are lightweight, non-flaking and non-greasy. Because there are so many different hair textures, it’s important to find the right stretching cream that’s best for your particular type.
To use, just apply a small amount to detangled hair, next apply your oils and cream to lock in moisture, then go ahead with your preferred method of stretching. The result will be soft, shiny and your hair will be moisturized for days.
How to Stretch Natural Hair After Washing
Knowing how to handle your hair after washing is a great way to get rid of the shrinkage that you know is all too real. It’s ideal for showing off the length you’ve worked so hard in growing. By stretching your hair after washing, you can show off that length until your next wash day.
This saves you from having to do it during the week. It’s best to do it freshly washed, moisturized and partially dried. This minimizes the chances of damage. If you straighten your hair when it’s too wet, unnecessary stress is put on the hair which can cause it to break off.
Stretching Natural Hair Overnight
If you’d rather style your hair the next day, you’re going to want to know what stretches your hair overnight. Stretching overnight is another method, only it prepares your hair for quicker styling the next day. To straighten your hair overnight, simply dampen it and apply the LOC method.
Apply a curl stretching cream or your favorite styling cream. I love TGIN butter cream. Go ahead and work your stretching style then wrap your hair in a satin scarf or cap. Leave it overnight. It’s that easy.
If possible, it’s also a good idea to sleep on a satin pillowcase to further protect your hair. In the morning, all you need to do is take out the stretching twists, braids, knots or bands and style as usual. Another benefit is that it helps to keep the hair from tangling as you sleep. This saves time from having to do it the next day.
How to Staighten Short Natural Hair
If you have short hair, you too can enjoy the benefits of longer length once you learn how to stretch short natural hair. Sometimes flat twists end up having better definition than twist outs, but it really depends on your type.
Another way to stretch short hair is with a high ponytail. This type of stretching style is ideal for blowout looking styles or for preparing for a smoother look like a French twist. Bantu knots are a great way to stretch hair that’s very short and can be styled into a fun afro with a lot of definition. Keep in mind that using a stretching product helps the curl to relax, which can reduce the stretching time needed.
Stretched Natural Hair Styles
The amount of stretched natural hair styles is nearly limitless, and the added length can give you more styling options. For the lady who loves her bouncy curls, flat twists or large chunky braid outs result in full styles with a lot of movement.
If you’re looking to do more with bun styling, straightened hair offers more options for those buns. Twisted and braided buns are just a couple of examples of the styling versatility. For those who like to combine the control of a ponytail and the movement of curls, a drawstring ponytail high on the head gives you the best of both worlds.
Stretching using rollers leaves the hair with larger curls depending on the size of the roller used. This means you can leave your hair long with luxurious curls or you can style it up in nearly any way you can think of.
How to Stretch Short Natural Hair Without Heat
Are you wanting to know how to handle short natural hair without heat? Not only is it possible, but it’s a popular way to add that extra length without damaging your hair. The style that works best for you will depend on the length and texture of your hair but here are a few suggestions.
Braids are an excellent method of stretching short hair. The results are usually more defined so if that’s the look you want, braids are the stretching style for you. If you’re looking forward to a fro, Bantu knots should work perfectly for you.
Once the knots are removed, you can select your level of curl definition depending on how much you comb or pick out. It’s always a good idea to use a straightening product before stretching your hair for the best results.
Stretching natural hair with Heat
When it comes to knowing how to straighten natural hair with heat, the fastest way to do it is with a blow dryer. If you’re going to use a blow dryer, it’s best to start with clean and moisturized hair. Apply a heat protectant and use the hair dryer on the lowest yet most effective setting. Direct the air from the roots and work down towards the ends while straightening the hair.
If you’re wanting to keep a bit of curl definition, use your hand or a hair diffuser, otherwise use a wide tooth comb. It’s important to make sure your hair has been detangled first to avoid setting in any knots or tangles.
Also, using a directional attachment helps to focus the heat exactly where you want it. If your hair is very dense, it may be necessary to section it first. Be sure to move the dryer frequently so the hair doesn’t burn. Before you know it, your hair will be longer and ready for styling.
How to Stretch Different Hair Types
Natural 3a Hair
The best techniques in knowing how to straighten natural 3a hair are simple. For the 3a girl, banding, Bantu knots, and chunky braids are ideal if you don’t want to apply heat. As with any stretching style, larger sections produce larger curls and tend to straighten more from the root. These stretching styles result in beautiful, springy curls.
Another way to stretch 3a hair is to add clips to the ends of your curls. This is an excellent technique if you have layered hair and the nape of your neck is particularly difficult to stretch. Keep the clips in until the hair is dry. If heat isn’t an issue, blow drying only the roots while stretching with your hand is a wonderful way to add length. By drying only the roots, the curls are preserved while the length is added.
With a little picking at the roots and touching up, you’ll be left with gorgeous volume and movement. If you do choose to use heat, be sure to use a heat protectant before to minimize any damage that could occur.
Natural 3b Hair
Understanding how to stretch natural 3b hair is very similar to the techniques used for 3a hair. If you’re not going to use heat, divide your hair into sections, then continue with either large corn rows, Bantu knots, banding or flat twists. Be sure to add a little stretching cream to help loosen those curls and add length.
Remember that the bigger the section, the bigger the curls will be. Because 3b hair tends to have looser curls, putting your hair into a ponytail or bun on top of your head adds volume as well as length. If you’re looking to keep your curl pattern use only your hands to put your hair up and avoid any styling tools such as brushes or combs as these can make it frizzy.
If you’re not opposed to using heat, using a blow dryer should give you excellent results. You can blow dry the entire hair from root to tip or if you just want to add a little length while preserving the curl, just blow dry the roots while using a diffuser.
Don’t forget to use a heat protectant to avoid damage.
Natural 3c Hair
For those of you wondering how to straighten natural 3c hair, there are some wonderful options for you. Roller sets are an excellent way to stretch 3c and 3b hair alike. If your curls loosen relatively easily, stretching your hair with rollers can add soft and springy curls along with the added length.
While using rollers can be done on dry hair, the best results come from setting your hair with stretching cream and when the hair is damp or even wet. Other methods such as banding, braids and twists are also effective methods.
When time is an issue and you don’t want to invest the hours it takes, blow drying your hair after applying a heat protectant is always an option. If you focus only on the roots, use a directing attachment. If you dry the entire length of the hair, use a diffuser while pulling it straight.
Natural 4a Hair
Because type 4a hair has a tighter curl, learning the different techniques on how to stretch natural 4a hair is important. Depending on your hair’s texture, roller sets may or may not work for you. Don’t worry though. There are still plenty of options for the 4a girl.
Bantu knots in larger sections are a wonderful way to stretch 4a hair and leave lovely bouncy curls. To make Bantu knots, apply stretching cream then divide the damp hair into three-inch sections. Twist the hair until it twists on itself then secure. Allow it to completely dry and remove the knots.
Carefully separate the curls until you achieve the level of separation you like. To add a little more stretch, you can secure each section with a hair tie close to the head before twisting the knot. When the knots are removed, the hair is beautifully curly but longer.
The key to adding the length is to not make the sections too small. The smaller the section, the tighter the curl. While this is a beautiful style, it may not give you the length you’re looking for. Either way, the results are stunning.
Natural 4b hair
For the lady who wants to know how to straighten natural 4b hair, here are a few suggestions. If you’re wanting to keep defined curls with spring and bounce, twists that are stretched and pinned are the way to go. However, if your goal is to get the most stretch possible, banding and African threading are recommended.
Banding and threading, when used with stretching cream, allow the curls to relax which helps with the stretching process. This results in longer hair that you can easily style or wear as a wash and go style.
While these techniques are a little more time intensive, they only require quick touch ups and allow you to switch your styling throughout the week or until the next wash day.
Natural 4c Hair
If your hair is type 4c, you may be wondering how to stretch natural 4c hair. You may be familiar with banding which is tying sections of hair with elastic hair ties about every inch or so down a small section of hair. While this is an effective method for stretching 4c hair, African threading might give you better and longer results.
African threading is done by taking a small section of damp and moisturized hair then tightly winding thread down the entire length to the ends. When using the African threading technique, leaving open spaces between the thread results in a crimped look, where not leaving any spaces leaves the hair with a little curl and only stretched hair remains.
After the threading is complete, leave it to dry for at least a day. Make sure to secure the sections in a cap or scarf while sleeping to protect the hair from damage. When the hair is completely dry, remove the thread by gently pulling the end of the thread closest to the end of the hair. The hair will unwind quickly. When all the thread has been removed, simply style as usual.
If you’re looking to add length to your natural hair and add styling options, learning to straighten it offers options that not only gives you a variety of looks but allows you to show the results of your hard work and dedication to growing. With so many hair stretching methods available, it’s easy to find the one that’s right for you.
Hey Curl Friend, I’m Patrina Haupt the creator and author of Natural Hair Queen. I hope you find my healthy hair care tips helpful in your hair journey. Healthy hair care practices are definitely, what helped me to achieve waist length hair.