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How to Elongate Curls -The Ultimate Guide to Stretching Curls

by Curl Up Team |

Hi there, Curlies! How’re your lustrous locks doing? Dealing with shrinkage? We get it. It’s frustrating when 12-inches long hair looks like it’s only 8. But did you know there are several methods you can use to elongate your curls? We’ll tell you all about it. 

What is Shrinkage and why does it happen?

As the term suggests, "shrinkage" refers to the decrease in the length of the curls as it goes from a wet state to a dry state. It is a natural process that is, in fact, a sign of healthy hair. Shrinkage could also occur due to contact with humid air, or even chemicals.  

Shrinkage indicates that your hair is sufficiently moisturised and has good elasticity to it. That being said, it could be a disappointing ordeal to those who prize their hair’s length. 

But Curlies, listen up! You can easily elongate your curls to a more accurate length. And the best part? It doesn’t alter your curl pattern permanently!

How to beat shrinkage?

We’ll preface this by saying you can’t eliminate shrinkage completely. Every curly-haired person in the world deals with this. But, there are some methods you can use to reduce the effects of shrinkage. 

Detangle your hair 

Knots and tangles in your curly hair make your hair appear shorter than they are. The best place to detangle is in the shower while you’re waiting for your conditioner to sink in.

Use a wide-toothed comb and gently detangle your knots from the bottom of your hair to the top. This will help prevent breakage and hair fall. Using a comb will also help distribute the conditioner evenly through your hair. 

The slip of your conditioner should also help to prevent breakage and get the tangles out easily. Detangling your knots at this stage will also help all the products to be distributed evenly. This ensures that the moisture gets locked in from root to tip and there’s no chance of uneven dryness from occurring. 

Moisturise your curls 

Finding the right amount of moisture your curls need is the best thing you can do for it. If you have naturally more dry and porous hair, frequent deep conditioning will help to prevent shrinkage. 

You don’t want to drown your curls with hydration either. So you need to figure out the right balance of oils and conditioner suitable for your curl type. 

Some ingredients that aid the elongation process are shea butter, mango butter, tucuma butter, aloe vera, and bamboo milk. Look for them in the products that you use to moisturise your tresses. You can try the Curl Up Intense Hydrating Hair Mask for this.

Experiment with different amounts of the deep conditioner as well as with the frequency with which you deep condition. 

Stretch your curls with these Styling Methods 

Stretching your hair with products is arguably the easy way. But you don’t want to use too many products either. Luckily, there are some heat-less styling methods that you can use to elongate your curls and show off your true length. 

Use an ultra moisturising shampoo and conditioner for your wash. Most elongation methods tend to wick out the moisture from your hair. So it’s best to supplement the most hydration you can. For this, you can try our Curl Moisturising Shampoo and Curl Hydrating Conditioner. 

Banding Method

As the name implies, the banding method uses rubber bands to help straighten your hair. The results of the banding method vary depending on the curl pattern you start with. The banding method works best for curlies with 3c or 4a-c curl patterns. 

Step 1: Start with freshly washed, conditioned, and detangled hair. You can also go ahead and apply your stylers to your hair and let your hair dry till it’s damp. 

Step 2: Start sectioning your hair into manageable portions. The thicker your hair, the more sections you’ll need to make. 

Step 3: Use thin hairbands with a satin or cotton casing. Rubber bands will remove moisture from your hair and might cause breakage. 

Step 4: Start wrapping the hair bands around the sections from the root. Leave some space and wrap another rubber band. Continue till 1-2 inches from the tips of your hair. 

The more rubber bands you use on a single section, the looser the resulting curls will be. 

Repeat this process till you band all of your sections. At this point, you can blot your hair with a towel to remove excess moisture and product. Let your hair dry completely in the bands before removing them. 

The banding method helps prevent knots tangles since the strands are kept in place. This results in lesser breakage! So double-win!

Pineapple Method 

The pineapple plop is one of the easiest ways to elongate your curls. All you need is a singular hairband, preferably made with satin. 

Step 1: Tilt your head down and gather all of your hair near the forehead. Take your hairband and wrap it around your hair just once. You can also create a loose bun by not pulling your hair through fully. 

Step 2: For additional protection, you can also wear a silk or satin bonnet around your hair. 

The pineapple method is one of the best ways to prevent frizz when sleeping. And when you prevent frizz, you can simultaneously prevent your hair from drying out and shrinking. 

The longer you keep your hair in the pineapple, the more it will stretch out. And when taking it out, don’t be compelled to brush your hair. This will just give you all the frizz you worked hard to eliminate. 

Instead, gently shake out your hair till it drops into place.  

High buns and Bantu Knots

High ballerina buns are used by straight-haired people to give their hair waves and volume. So it’s pretty funny that the same method can be used by curlies to loosen their natural curls. 

Step 1: Once you wash your hair, apply the Curl Up curl defining leave-in cream and let it dry till it's damp. Then, put it up in a high bun if you have long hair. If your hair is on the shorter side then you can put it in low pigtail buns.

If you have more voluminous hair, then split your hair into two or more sections to get looser curls.  

If you’re attempting Bantu knots, then be careful while sectioning your hair. 

Step 1: Try and section your hair into defined diamond or triangle sections. This will help prevent your hair from getting tangled. 

Step 2: Then, twist your hair till it wraps around itself and forms a knot. You can secure the knot with a hairband. 

You can sleep with these knots in your hair or even rock your day with this hairstyle. Make sure your hair is fully dry before you unravel it. 

Twist Outs and Braid Outs

Twist outs are a good way to add texture to your hair as you elongate it. A twist out is also a protective method that helps prevent frizz and tangles. 

Twist outs are a labour of love. It usually takes some time to style your hair, but the results are phenomenal. 

Step 1: Section your hair into quarters and pull back all the sections you’re not working on. If your hair is completely dry at this point, then you’ll need to grab a spray bottle. Hydrate your hair as you go. This will help prevent breakage and also makes it easier to work with. 

Step 2: Apply a liberal amount of moisturising leave-in curl cream to the section, like the Curl Up curl defining leave-in cream. Ensure your hair is detangled before you start twisting. 

Step 3: You can do a finger coil, a two-strand twist, or a flat twist. The two-strand twist is the most commonly used method. Seal the ends of the twists with a bit of gel so that the twists hold. 

Step 4: Once you’ve finished twisting all your sections, pat out the excess moisture with a towel. Otherwise, the curls won’t set. 

But this isn’t where this technique ends. Unravelling your twists properly is just as important as setting them. 

Step 5: Apply a dab of oil to your fingertips before you start. If you’ve done the two-strand method, then untwist your hair starting from the bottom. Try to work from the back section to the front. This will help keep hair out of your face as you’re working. 

Once your hair is fully unravelled, you can gently run your fingers through your hair. 

A braid out is similar to a twist out. The only difference is that you would braid your sections instead of twisting them. 

When doing a braid-out, you won’t have to separate your hair into too many sections. So it’s a bit easier on your arms and gets done quicker. 

Let there be heat 

Sometimes, you just don’t have the time or patience to commit to heatless-styling. We get it. 

In these circumstances, some heating tools and a lower heat setting will be your best friends. Remember, blow drying isn’t synonymous with frizz if you follow the right methods. Let’s discuss those here. 

Before we say anything else, we’d like to make two points clear.

Most Indian curlies have a 3c or looser curl pattern. The effect of heat on these curl patterns usually results in straight hair. We recommend this method for kinkier curl types, i.e 4a-4c.

Also, heat protection is mandatory if you want to protect your curls. Even if you’re using the cool setting on your blowdryer, you need a heat protectant. Even with the humble hairdryer, there are several ways to stretch out your curls. 

The Tension Method 

The tension method is the safest way to stretch your hair out on wash day. You can go from soaking wet to a lustrous mane in about 30 minutes. 

If you have tight ringlets, then you can use the nozzle attachment on your hairdryer. Otherwise, just the hair dryer will do. 

Step 1: Section your hair and apply your heat protectant liberally to each section. Make sure your hair is detangled before you start. 

Step 2: Gently pull your hair till it reaches its full length. Then, with your blowdryer on a cool or medium setting, start drying your section. 

You’ll want to move your dryer down from the roots to the tip. This will give you the most stretch. Keep your dryer on a high-speed setting and work gently. Move on to the next section when the first one is fully dry. 

Band & Blow Dry 

If you’re a person for whom heat is the last word in styling, then this is the method for you. This method combines a heatless method with blow drying just to hasten the process. 

Step 1: Band or braid your wet hair after applying heat protectant and all your stylers. Then wait till your hair is about 75% dry. You can also soak up the extra moisture with a towel. 

Step 2: Undo the bands in sections and dry your hair using the tension method. You won’t have to use a concentrator nozzle here since your hair has already been banded.

There you go Curlies! You can now rock your curls in their true length while not losing definition and also being gentle on them. 

Just remember to keep your tresses sufficiently moisturised with the right products. And check out the Curl Up Ultra Defining Bundle to give your hair the best protection as you’re stretching it out. 

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