Why stretch your relaxer?
-To prevent over lapping
Hair grows on average half an inch per month. When touching up a relaxer, chemical is supposed to be applied to the new growth but if there is only half inch of curly new growth it becomes very difficult to prevent relaxer from getting on the already relaxed hair. This results in overlapping the relaxer which causes the hair to become over processed, brittle and prone to breakage.
-To give your scalp a break from harsh chemicals
-To give you enough time to treat the hair and strengthen it before the next chemical application.
while streching the hair is fragile, be gentle and patient while detangling. Try to do this while the hair is wet and full of conditioner. If dry detangling works better for you, be sure to use a detangling spray on the roots to soften them.
Protein is very important as it helps strengthen the strands. Get protein by deep conditioning and also by using a leave in with protein on your relaxed hair.
dry your hair in a stretched state. This can be done by drying in 6 to 8 ponytails, African threading (mabhanzi) bantu knots, braids, or cornrows. All of these styles pull the roots straight, remember this is to be done while the roots are wet so that it dries stretched.
Deep conditioning and moisturizing with a spray containing glycerine helps to moisturize the new growth. Many long term stretchers use 'S-curl' no drip curl activator moisturizer spray on the roots (only the roots) every night, then pull the hair into a stretched state (using one of the above methods) and allow it to dry overnight. It is one of my staples when stretching
6. Low Manipulation
Try to comb your hair once a week for the most, at 8 weeks post relaxer is not the time to comb through your hair every day. When stretching your relaxer it is not advisable to use fine tooth combs to comb through your tightly curled new growth, that's just asking for breakage. I first detangle hair with my fingers then use the comb after and its usually 2 to 3 times a week when I remove my bun to moisturize and seal. Instead, opt for low manipulation styles like updo's, roller sets, braid outs, bantu knot outs, buns. I use braids and cornrows and some people use weaves but be careful with this as the weight of the synthetic hair can put stress on the fragile line of demarcation. Also remember to continue to spray your hair with a good leave-in conditioner containing protein while its in the braids/ weave
Gradually increase your stretching period to get your hair accustomed to stretching and for you to master the different techniques. If you currently relax every 6 weeks, then try for 7 the next time, then for 8 and continue to build up to an interval you are satisfied with. I think 10-12 weeks is good for bone straight relaxed hair. Texlaxed ladies can stretch a bit longer because their line of demarcation is not as fragile. I want to get into the routine of texlaxing my hair every 6 months, but I am still adjusting on how to get there slowly but surely. I have stretched for 32 weeks before my longest ever.
I hope this post was useful, feel free to ask questions and share tips on how you stretch.