4c hair is distinguished by its extremely tight curl pattern and its great capacity for shrinkage. While shrinkage is a sign that your 4c hair is healthy, there are some benefits to stretching out 4c hair. In this article, we will cover some of the most popular methods for stretching out 4c hair without having to use heat.
There are many different ways to stretch 4c hair without using heat. Some examples of these methods include banding, African braids, Bantu knots, sectioning and twisting while washing, and more. Some of these methods are easy, while some are more time-consuming but super effective.
What is 4C Hair?
4c hair is the curliest hair type, as identified by the Andre Walker hair typing system.
4c hair can be identified by the following characteristics:
- Strands of hair are tightly coiled.
- If you stretch out a strand of 4c hair, it has a tight springy ringlet pattern, as opposed to 4b hair, which has a tight zigzag pattern.
- Your hair experiences a lot of shrinkage after you shower. Shrinkage is common in all type 4 hairstyles, but if you have 75% shrinkage or more, it’s likely you have 4c hair.
What Is Hair Shrinkage?
Hair shrinkage, or compression, is a normal phenomenon for all textured hair types.
It is when hair goes from a stretched-out state to a more compacted coil. It tends to happen as your hair dries after a shower.
Since it has the tightest coils, 4c hair experiences the most shrinkage.
Shrinkage is not a bad thing. In fact, it is a sign your hair is healthy. It shows that your hair is moisturized and has good elasticity.
However, there are benefits to stretching out 4c hair. Since 4c hair is so coily, it can get tangled around itself causing knots, which can lead to breakage and split ends.
Stretching out the hair means it needs to be detangled less. It also allows for better distribution of natural oils throughout the hair.
And finally, stretching out 4c hair allows you to enjoy the length you have hidden in the curls and coils.
There are a few different options for stretching out 4c hair. Here we have compiled a list of options that do not involve the use of heat, so are better for the hair.
How To Stretch 4C Hair
Always remember to moisturize dry hair with water or a moisturizing spray before styling as it helps to prevent breakage.
Follow the LOC method (liquid, oil, cream) after you shower – doing so will keep your hair moisturized and again help prevent breakage when styling.
Here are some of the most popular methods for stretching out 4c hair:
1 – Banding Method
The banding method is one of the most popular ways to prevent shrinkage after you shower.
You simply use large hair bands to stretch out your freshly washed hair. However, make sure you avoid elastic hair bands as these can cause snagging and damage the hair.
To follow the banding method:
- Divide your freshly washed hair into sections.
- Using large hair bands, wind the bands around each section from root to tip.
- Leave in until your hair dries and then remove and enjoy your new length.
2 – Bun Or Ponytail
One of the easiest and quickest ways to stretch your hair is to put it in a bun or ponytail. A low bun or ponytail is best, as these will cause less tension on the hair.
Leave in for at least a couple of hours for best results. This is a great way to stretch 4c hair while maintaining a textured look.
3 – Sectioning And Twisting While Washing
Another easy way to combat hair compression is to section and twist the hair while you wash it. Your hair will be less prone to shrinkage if you keep it in twists while it’s damp.
To follow this method, simply divide your hair into sections and put it into individual twists.
You only take out a twist when it’s time to apply shampoo, conditioner, deep conditioner, or rinse.
The same principle can apply to styling the hair too: only take out one twist at a time to style your hair.
4 – Bantu Knots
Bantu knots are another popular way of stretching out 4c hair.
They are also a funky style all in themselves. These are not suitable for wet hair, however, as wet Bantu knots will not dry properly. They are best done on damp or dry hair.
- Section up your hair into square or triangular sections.
- Take the small sections of hair and twist them around themselves towards the bottom, to make a corkscrew shape.
- Tuck the end of the section of hair under the knot to secure it. You can also use a bobby pin or hair band to keep the knot in place.
- Leave your Bantu knots in overnight or to dry.
To release your curls (Bantu knot-out) separate them with your fingers or a wide-toothed comb and arrange them over the head so they look natural.
5 – Pineapple
The pineapple is not just a protective night-time style. It’s also a great way of stretching out 4c hair. To extend your length, just pull all your hair into a high ponytail at the front of your head and secure it with a hair tie.
The longer you leave the pineapple in, the better the results will be.
6 – African Threading Method
The African threading method is a more long-winded technique to get stretched out 4c hair, but the results are worth it.
It works as both a heat-free stretching technique and as a protective hairstyle. Work on damp hair for best results, using thick thread or wool.
- First, section up your hair.
- Wrap the thread around near the roots of your hair. Wrap around a few times to secure it in place, and then wrap around the length of the section of the hair to the tip.
- Make a knot at the end of the section, wrapping it around a few times to prevent unravelling.
- For the best stretching effect, wrap the thread around so the loops of thread are close to each other.
- Leave the thread on for a day or overnight for the best stretching results.
7 – Jumbo Rollers
Jumbo rollers are another simple way to stretch out 4c hair. Use about 6 to 10 jumbo rollers for long hair. For a smoother effect, plastic rollers are better than foam.
- Section up your hair.
- Roll the sections of hair flat against the rollers and secure in place with a duckbill clip.
- You can leave the rollers in overnight or for a few hours so they have time to stretch out your hair.
8 – Stretch or Rubber Plates
Although they might look strange, rubber plates are a simple and easy way to stretch out 4c hair.
Use on damp hair for best results. Section up your hair, then it’s as simple as aligning your hair sections with the plates and securing them in place using the clips. Then just leave your hair to dry.
The rubber plates are flexible enough to sleep in for those who want to leave their hair to stretch overnight.
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