She walks up to the line looking graceful and postured. Her back is straight her shoulders are relaxed.
She doesn’t look down or out at the audience who is watching her every move. One deep breath then a slight nod. She lifts her arms straight out from her sides and takes the first step out onto the tightrope.
She takes another step. The rope shakes, but there is no uncertainty in her body. Right foot. Left foot. Right foot. Left foot. The crowd holds their breathes all thinking “Don’t fall, don’t fall”. One step. Two steps. Three steps. Until, finally, she has reached the other side.
Your healthy hair journey can feel a lot like walking a tightrope. It looks easy and effortless. The steps seem doable: moisturize and seal, use less heat, protective style and—for those of us who are relaxed—stretch out the time between your touch ups.
At the beginning of my journey, the latter seemed to be the easiest step of them all. However, once I began to actually stretch I found myself feeling like I was toting the line between what could be really healthy for my hair and a major setback in other words, stretching my relaxers put me on a tightrope.
Much like the circus performer who has to master her talent little by little by testing out different rope tensions or starting off closer to the ground or just standing on the rope before walking, battling your new growth during a relaxer stretch is a process of trial and error.
One of the best things you can do for your relaxed hair is give it some time in between treatments so I’ve compiled a few tips from my own experience to help get you through and learn how to stretch your relaxer successfully.
1. Stretch your new growth while wet.
Your hair during a stretch will be easier to work with while wet. This is not just a hair thing; it is a science thing. Water helps increase malleability. Plus, since you are dealing with two different hair textures it is important to recognize that your hair is weaker and more susceptible to breakage.
Water will give your new growth the added moisture and softness it needs to stretch and even detangle the way you need it to.
2. Keep the new growth moisturized…
A healthy hair fundamental is keeping hair moisturized, but on your stretch you have to kick it up a notch, especially for your new growth. In addition to your regular moisturizing routine show your new growth lots of love by giving it the moisture (and attention) it needs.
By maintaining the right moisture levels you’ll also be preventing tangles. A lot of ladies run into the issue of seemingly not being able to moisturize enough to quench their hair. One solution to this is weekly deep conditioning* with heat to really penetrate the hair shaft.