What Relaxer Stretching Is And Why It Is Important In Retaining Length

Do you stretch

There was a time where I would run for the relaxer at the first sign of new growth. To me roots were synonymous with touch up (or the devil, whichever fits). I didn’t want to see them. I didn’t want to deal with them.

So I religiously scheduled a hair appointment with an actual stylist (or sometimes with my mom) every six weeks to make sure that I was “taking care of my hair”. Of course, along with a lot of other false hair care beliefs I carried, I just knew that your hair always had to be relaxed on time.

And of course this was very unhealthy for my hair which goes to prove that ignorance is truly bliss sometimes.

It is amazing what the Internet can do because with lots and lots of research on hair care blogs and websites I found that waiting longer in between touch ups, or “relaxer stretching”, was in fact one of the best things that you can do for your relaxed hair.

Although it takes more patience and TLC for your hair, there are ample benefits to allowing more time to elapse in between relaxers. The average wait time in between touch ups for most women who relax their hair today is six to eight weeks.

At least that’s what I was told by countless stylists before I decided to take my hair care into my own hands. With the proper care, however, waiting even longer than that can really be a godsend to your tresses.

Knowing the damage I was causing to my hair by relaxing too frequently made me cringe. What’s more, I began self-relaxing when I started college because I really could not afford to be in the salon every six weeks.

That meant that every touch up was essentially practice until I learned how to do it myself (with skill). All those factors compounded put my hair on the expressway to disaster. Luckily, I got off at the right exit and turned it around.

Relaxer Run Off

One of the first reasons I was given for stretching is the threat of relaxer run off. Despite all of the effort we put into only applying relaxer to our roots it still gets on all of our hair while rinsing.

Depending on how quickly you apply your neutralizing shampoo and in spite of your efforts to mitigate the damage by applying oils or conditioner to your previously relaxed hair, all your hair begins to process again to some degree while rinsing. Obviously this is something that cannot be avoided; you have to wash the relaxer out don’t you?

However, stretching means that you relax less often and therefore expose your hair to relaxer run off fewer times per year as well. Honestly, that was all I needed to hear to give stretching a try. Then, after a little more research I saw that other great things could happen too. So, I went on my first stretch.

About Ashleigh Nelson


I am Ashleigh Nelson a journalism student at Northwestern University and a part-time hair fanatic. My hair journey began at the beginning of my college career because I decided that it was time for me to finally learn how to gain and maintain healthy hair. The past two years have had ups and downs, but I have learned so much along the way. And now I am here to share my experiences and knowledge with everyone!

About Ashleigh Nelson


I am Ashleigh Nelson a journalism student at Northwestern University and a part-time hair fanatic. My hair journey began at the beginning of my college career because I decided that it was time for me to finally learn how to gain and maintain healthy hair. The past two years have had ups and downs, but I have learned so much along the way. And now I am here to share my experiences and knowledge with everyone!

MORE FROM BHI

  • Need a good shampoo n conditoner n moisturizer for matural black hair

  • @ Lisa Doe I rarely wash my hair with actual shampoo. I use Trader Joe’s tingle tree conditioner it’s only 4 bucks.

  • If that is the case how come it says on the box every 6 weeks and how come stylists who are the real professionals always say 6 weeks? You’d think that with good hair care you could do anything and retain length. Starting to think the natural hair community are the least educated in hair care. Could be wrong

    • If you look at the women with really long relaxed hair (Jeni of Just grow already among others), this is what has helped them reach milestones like waist length. If you are already at waist length without having to stretch then that’s you but not everyone’s hair can cope with being exposed to relaxer so often.

    • I know people with such lengths and they don’t do the stretching. Maybe because they go to the real professionals and not do it themselves. I was taught at hair school to take care of our hair and we can do whatever we want. I think the women ‘who can’t cope’ weren’t doing anything right to their hair in the first place. I don’t think it’s just not relaxing your hair alone. I think the hair CARE is what helps them to achieve these length. I always find folly in a lot of what ‘naturals’ say because I went to hair school. They taught us different. And best if I must say so myself. My hair care is what got my hair this length and health. Not extended my re touch from 6 to 16 weeks.

      • I am relaxed and have found that stretching my relaxer works better for my hair than a 6 week touch up. Ultimately the key to healthy hair is paying attention to your hair needs and what works best for YOU.

    • I personally dont believe crap they teach in hair school, most females I know who have successful graduated cosmetology courses dont know 10% of what I know, I do know that most instruction are from being tested on a certain persons hair “not yours” so results my vary, no need to bicker!

    • @shanice i agree with you. the women iv always known to drop major bucks every couple weeks up in the beauty shop or lucky enough to have a mama who is a pro hair stylist, had the longest healthiest hair. with a proper professional stylist, permed hair can grow great lengths. i dont have money like that plus i hate the beauty shop so im a natural now

    • I’m starting to think hair school is a sham lmaoo. #joking

    • An old friend of mines…hair would only grow to the nape of her neck with relaxers period! But the moment she stopped relaxing to go natural ~dreadlocks~ her hair is near wait length! Amazing

    • True, there are exceptions to everything. There are naturals with unhealthier hair now than when they were relaxed, there are those who use mineral oils, sulfates and cones regularly or even relax monthly and have hair down their backs. Bottom line is that you have to do what works for you and if you find that relaxer stretching helps you retain length better, then carry on! But if what you are doing is already working then why change it?

    • The hair school I went to is called L’Oreal. They taught us with Black White and Asian models. Like I said I learned from the best. I’m sure many of us here have or know someone who has used L’Oreal. Though they don’t always advertise themselves. Good Hair care will get you anywhere. That’s something I’ve always noticed. Relaxed natural or with extensions.

    • Nicole Smith if by ‘not yours’ you mean european hair, I wish more black women would come to classes. Then half of the bullshit they post on facebook wouldn’t come out of their heads. Information is sweet especially when It comes to the pros. (See Kenya Noble’s flat ironed hair)

    • Basically learning white hair taught me that black people are lost way before the movement started. Its good to learn all types of hair. Then maybe more BW will realise we are seriously not the only one who have it hard!

    • Most of what is common in ‘the natural hair community’ I learned from L’Oreal too. Seems like you can believe, *sings miracles by whitney and mariah*

  • Relaxers weaken your hair and dry it out. Its so important to wait longer than 6 weeks. Protein, and deep moisturizing conditioners, hot oils, and pre-pooing, use less shampoo as well… ((( just my opinion)))

  • I’ve started to do this without even giving it a name I find that seeing my roots ( re growth ) isn’t a problem anymore I jus set my hair wear it curly for that last few weeks and u appreciate the relaxer more when it’s done x

  • I’ve started this and so far I’m enjoying the results. I’ve never been big on relaxin every 6 weeks so I started stretching a lil further and my hair is finally growing

  • I am relaxed…. I went natural for two years. It was cool just wasn’t for me. My baby girl is natural and we actually use the same hair products….. Raw shea butter, coconut oil, leave in conditioner

    • I never understood ppl stating natural isn’t for them when u came out the womb natural, natural is where you started , that creamy crack is poising the scalp

    • Some people just DONT LIKE natural hair… I never understood why people who chose to be natural have so much to say about/ judge people who chose to relax their hair. Its no one’s business but their own… Right?

    • Natural hair is NOT for everyone. It’s time consuming and some may not like the look. It’s their choice.

    • Thats what I was saying! I never down anyone who chooses to be natural, my hair is relaxed and I love love love rockin my hair im proud!!!!

    • Nope, everybody does not want natural hair. And Caramel Kimmie, you sound foolish. If you’re scared of poison, then you better stop breathing air,drinking water, eating, driving cars, etc. smh

  • Shanice Goodridge-Flemming it’s because it’s about the money they know that the minimum time to wait is 6 weeks so they will try to get you in there as often as possible.waiting longer will allow for a person’s hair not to be exposed as often and risk damage.

  • Caramel Kimmie also came out of the womb without false nails, false eyelashes , makeup, fake boobs, fake butts…….. nail polish, drawn on eyebrows, tattoos, piercings….. what’s your point

  • Everything is poison!!! Think about it.

  • Shanice Goodridge-Flemming very good point!

  • I think one should still be very cautious when stretching due to the hair being more easy to break. I’ve been stretching out my relaxers for almost a year and every time I stretch them out a little longer than before. First I tried 8 weeks, then 10, then 14 and so on. The most recent stretch I really noticed the line of demarcation and my relaxed hair felt so thin compared to my new growth. My stylist warned about stretching for too long because the relaxed hair is too weak to hold onto the new growth. I have to be more weary about the breakage when it comes to stretching. Is there anyway to help with keeping the relaxed hair strong while growing out the new growth? On the flip side I can definitely see the length after a stretch and touch up is done.

  • Kori N Jeff very true. It can be stressful on your hair

  • BlackHairInformation.com what do you suggest for people you want to continue on the natural hair path and they do not want to relaxer their hair ever again but they currently have two texture hair and don’t want to do the big chop to cut out the relaxed hair on the ends?

    • Eventually you have to get rid of the relaxed ends whether you snip or it pops lil by little..which most dont like to see or go through so they chop…me personally,I cut my ends an inch or two every month and finally did the chop after eight months..i didn’t want to say goodbye to long locks all at once but I didn’t want to shed like mad…keep hair in protection styles to refrain from damage and eliminating curl patterns while waiting

    • I know you didn’t me but I hope it helps

    • Also YouTube has some great videos on how to take care of transitioning hair…

  • Johnna Williams Nash great advice

  • This doesn’t work for everyone and could actually cause breakage where the two different textures meet. When I relaxed I could go months without relaxers but couldn’t do go that long with my daughters.

  • for those that are transitioning and don’t want to big chop, keep your hair braided. nothing to stress full like micros but i transitioned for like 9 mths. instead of getting a touchup i simply did a deep condition and then got senegalese twist. after 3 mths removed them, more deep conditioning, then wore my hair flat ironed for two weeks. then braided again. another 3 mths. repeated wore wigs in between and by the end i just came home that last time after washing and conditioning and cut the perm out.

    • So that’s the case? Quite a reeotalivn that is.

  • Johanna Williams Nash thank you. I had been wearing my hair in braids as a protective style. I wanted my hair free of braids for a while just to see what my hair looked like. I have A Lot new growth. I washed & deep conditioned my hair then I flat ironed my hair & trimmed my ends. The combination texture has been difficult for me to find ways to style. I’ve been keeping it oiled & conditioned so it’s healthy with no excessive shedding but I’m really considering chopping a little more of the relaxer off and doing another protective style again for a while to keep the growth going. Thanks again!

  • I stretch for 3 to 4 months at a time and i love it, not to mention how affordable it is.

  • Roxanne Holmes, I don’t know anything about my natural hair at all, I’m brand new to this transition to natural hair, I’m half natural and relaxed ends… What products should I use to deep condition, I’m so lost…haven’t relaxed in at least 7 months…

  • Yes. Being natural is time consuming and some what expensive, but its a lifestyle i chose to better care for my hair and i would not change bein natural FOR ME. I love it. Since i was younger i always loved wavy and curly textured hair. And those fluffy fros! I adore bein natural and as a master cosmologist, i go the extra mile to care for not only my hair, but others as well 🙂 . So ladies can hang with it , and some cant. Dnt criticize just respect each other

  • Im good on the Relaxer Stretching…. I’ll pass… I will continue to do it through other methods…interesting though…. oh not mixed and 4C hair this is which VERY tight curls… just flat ironed carefully at 340 degree heat setting…mostly one…some areas 2 passes through.

  • I braided my hair back in nov last year I recently took it out. I have new growth my hair didnt shed like I expected. So I was wondering would it be a good thing to do fullhead weave (due to winter I live in canada lol) then after I take it out and give my hair some rest can I then relax it ? Someone help !

  • Great info…we learn every day..thanks..!

  • Stephanie

    I have actually been doing this for a long time. I also cute my hair a lot. I have no issue with my hair growing and have thick healthy hair. I relax my hair twice a year and refuse to relax anymore than that. I do my own relaxers and never had an issue. I actually relax it better than anyone that’s done it at a Salon. There may be stylist out there that know what their doing, but there are many many more that do not. Also women aren’t always taught how to maintain their perm or their hair away from the salon which causes many to have issues with their hair. It’s not about natural vs. relaxed. Chemicals can be bad for most and a lot of women actually have scalp issues that don’t get treated….their just told to put a perm on it lol. I think this is a good article for those that need to get their hair back in a healthy state…to be honest if your hair is good with your routine then this article doesn’t apply 🙂

  • Dam, she pretty

  • I just relaxed my hair after about 12 weeks. I could have gone longer.

  • lookn sexy indeed