The Lazy Girl's Guide to Stretching Curls

stretch curls

In case you couldn’t tell by the title, I’m extremely lazy when it comes to styling my hair. From little girlhood to college, my hair-obsessed big sister handled my mane. Now, as an adult, I’m completely spoiled and opt for styles that take little to no effort. The wash-and-go is my best friend due to its simplicity and low-maintenance. I’ve tried twist-outs, braid-outs and Bantu knot-outs to stretch my curls and multiply my styling options, but quickly grew annoyed at the time and work required. I decided that I’d only stretch my curls in exceptional cases of boredom or the occasional days I wanted to pin the sides into a funky faux hawk.

Then, one glorious day, I accidentally discovered a way to stretch my thick ringlets without tiring my boney arms from all the twisting! I started with nuNAAT’s Real Me Curl-to-Coil Lather Up & Hydrate Shampoo and Real Moisture Conditioner, and followed up with their Blast of Shine Hair Mask. (FYI: That mask is great for detangling!) After my final rinse, I squeezed out all excess water with a towel and generously applied Ecoco EcoCustard. I then parted my hair into four afro puffs—one in the front, two in the middle and one in the back—and secured them with ponytail holders. The plan was to keep it parted while I got dressed and then do individual twists all over for a twist-out. When I went to take out the afro puffs about 45 minute later, though, I noticed a much bigger ‘fro. My curls had stretched significantly from afro puffs that took all of five minutes! No twists, no braids, no Bantu knots. No heat and certainly no hour-and-a-half long process. I just fingered through my hair to blend and applied a dab of Giovanni 2chic Ultra-Moist Super Potion serum for shine. To maintain my stretch, I sprayed my hair with water before bed and redid the afro puffs. The next morning when I took out the puffs, my curls were even more stretched because they'd dried overnight!

Stretch Before and After

My new quick-stretch technique doesn’t alter my pattern and allows me to keep my kinky ringlet shape by simply stretching the hair at the root without manipulating the actual curls. For those with a naturally loose pattern: Instead of four "puffs," you’ll have four ponytails. Once they’re all parted and secured, join them to make one big high ponytail on top of the head. Spiral the loose hair around into a top bun and secure with a ponytail holder for at least 45 minutes before taking down the hair. Run your fingers through your curls to erase all signs of your hair being parted.

Essence Gant is a women’s life, style and beauty writer. Instagram and Twitter @TheEssenceOf_.