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How I Stretch My Girls' Hair

My girls really hate shrinkage, but what can  we do?  I remember being endlessly frustrated as a teenager when my hair would shrink after being exposed to moisture.  Some moisture like rain, or shower spray is easily avoided, but on a humid day, shrinkage would win no matter what. I really hated planning my life around how much humidity was forcasted  for the day.

I have been happiest since learning how to work with shrinkage and coming to appreciate that a little shrinkage can actually bring life to a stretched style.  I love it when a crisp twist out or wavy set transform into a more natural look as my strands respond just a little bit to the moisture in the air.  Just a little bit.  Unfortunately, this is very difficult to control.  I keep my sense of humor close and before I decided to lock my hair, I was flexible and never without the tools to change up my style if too much shrinkage was a factor.

To be honest, I wore my hair in mostly shrunken styles.  I was the queen of  twists done on damp hair.

I would like my girls to do the same, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I have noticed that their hair is easier to work with once it has been stretched. Here are a few things I have learned along the way:

1. The best case scenario for me time wise, would be if I could wash a mocha girl's hair, detangle and put the style right in.  I would love to get it all done in one sitting.  I have done this, but the result is maximum shrinkage.

2. Even a little bit of stretching makes the hair a little easier to detangle.  My first detangle is far from perfect.  my goal is to remove as much shed hair as possible but a comb won't slip through.  After, this rough detangle I will put in an oil and braid the girl's hair into 4-8 big braids.

3. Allow the hair to dry completely.  If I take the hair down before the hair is dry, it will continue to shrink up.

4.  If I pay attention to how I do those 4-8 braids, I've even been able to fake like their hair is styled and take them out of the house as the hair stretches.  It's amazing what can be done with headbands, bows and other color coordinated accessories.

5. I generally go from the 4-8 braids to a final detangle and style.  I have learned that I can stretch the hair even more by detangling those same 4-8 braids, putting it back in and stretching some more.  This principle works for any stretching method...the more you do it the longer the stretch.  Banding, African threading, roller setting or even doing multiple styling sessions in a week will result in more stretch as long as you control the moisture exposed to the hair.

6.  I do mist the hair to detangle even when I am stretching.  I work quickly, and generally a small bit of water won't cause much shrinkage and is invaluable towards keeping the strands pliable and moist.


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