My hair is breaking. My hair won’t grow. My hair grows slow. I just don’t know. (I tried to rhyme with that, did you catch it? lol)
All jokes aside, these are common complaints heard from relaxed women from all over. Your hair is growing. If it didn’t, you would only need to apply one relaxer your entire lifetime. It’s not that our hair won’t grow, it’s the processes we put our hair through that hinders us.
What is relaxer stretching? Relaxer stretching is a method of extending the time between relaxer touch ups to reduce exposure to chemicals. Stretching is a process. I would go as far to say it’s a science. There are great benefits to relaxer stretching, but it takes trial and error. Just as there are positives to this process, the negatives aren’t too far behind.
Many of us got our first relaxer when we were little girls, long before we cared for our hair ourselves. I got my first relaxer at 12 which means I’ve dealt with relaxed hair all of my adult life. If you decide relaxer stretching is for you, patience is important. Your choice of products and your manipulation techniques to manage your hair becomes critical because stretching forces you to deal with two textures of hair: the relaxed and the natural.
The point at which the natural and relaxed hair meet is called the line of demarcation. This area of the hair shaft requires gentle handling and care. It is the most precious part of the hair when stretching. If extreme caution is not practiced, the hair can tangle, knot and break at this point, leaving you in even worst shape than before you started the process. The natural hair is stronger than the relaxed hair because it has not been altered by the chemical process. Chemical bonds weaken the hair shaft of relaxed hair.
My first stretch was 12 weeks, then 13, then 16 and so on. Once I became comfortable with my new growth, I extended the time frame. Right now I’m 16 weeks post relaxer and this time I think I will do a six month stretch. My longest stretch was one week shy of six months. Starting out you will have your moments when you are tempted to relax, but stay strong. It is so worth it to see tremendous growth after a stretch.
I realized frequent exposure to no lye relaxers contributed to my dryness and breakage so I made the change for the better. In my crazy days, I would get a relaxer at the first sight of a wave which was once a month. I was applying chemicals that were powerful enough to unclog a drain 12 times a year! Now I do not relax no more than three times a year with a lye relaxer. I’ve only relaxed once this year and my hair is doing great.
Is relaxer stretching for everyone? Of course not. You can’t lump everyone into one group. It’s not a one size fit all solution. Stretching worked for me and it may work for you, but if it doesn’t it’s ok, just relax.