I’ve been looking for ways to stretch our hair for less tangles and sleeker protective styles, well mostly my daughter’s hair anyway because she’s the one I get to play hairstyles on. I hardly have any hair to work with. My littlest son’s hair is too short to style so I’m not that bothered about his hair other than religious moisturising. Boy number 1 has fairly evenly defined curls naturally that I just tend to leave alone because he has zero patience. Every time I’m able to cornrow I literally have to do a happy dance because I never know if he will ever let me again. He is gettng better but I think he would much prefer if Mummy just ignored him when it came to “hair time” every morning and night.
There are numerous ways to stretch hair. Obviously you can blow dry but we’re on a no heat journey…for now. I saw African Threading but I had misgivings as I thought it may damage the hair with the threads getting snagged on the curls if you do it incorrectly, I know it’s good by reputation, if you know what you’re doing. It also seemed like it would be too time consuming and difficult for my first proper foray into heatless stretching. There are also flexi rods, perm rods, SSS plates, curlformers but I wanted something easy that I could do right away with the things I had at home. I decided on Banding with bobbles. I say bobbles because I’m British but they’re called all sorts around the world. You may know them as hair elastics, hair ties, pony tails, ponytail holders but I’m going to stick with bobbles because that is the right word!
I saw this article about African threading vs Banding from Beautifully Curled and decided on banding as to me it looked like the easier option, in retrospect I should have paid more attention to the video they link to and I would have realised how easy, effective, neat and stylish Threading can be. And simple looking. I say “looking” as all YouTube tutorials seem easy before you try it and then you end up on an epic fail blooper reel with crazy Albert Einstein looking hair. I am naming no names.
On pretty wet hair but I wouldn’t say soaking wet I started our journey to Banding perfection. I detangled with my fingers and sectioned the hair with a rat-tail comb. I put oil and shea butter on each section as I worked through it. I banded at the base of the first section and then pulled the hair tight as I put the next layer of bands on and so on until I got to the end of the hair on each section. I actually liked the banded hair as a style and might send her to school like that every now and again as it was simple and pretty quick. It also held up to her tossing and turning overnight, at least for one night.
I had her go to bed with damp hair and the next day when it was completely dry took down the bands and was initially disappointed. I’m not sure what I was expecting. Well I know what I was hoping for, super silky straight-ish hair but what we had was not that. Her hair was stretched. She had lost her curl pattern (which seems quite sad when you say it out loud but it’s all in the pursuit of less tangles and neater protective styles), unfortunately we found ourselves in this no man’s land inbetween curly and not-so-curly but not-a-cute-not-curly. To be fair though, even though I wasn’t happy with how it looked, it had done what it was supposed to. Possibly, if I’d brushed her hair out or finger combed it or just separated it out more, it would have looked better. I think I gave up on it before thinking of solutions to make it look nice when it had actually worked.
Now I’m not one to be completely defeated and the Threading v Banding article did say about the distance between the bands making a difference. Also soaking the bobbles in oil is a great tip. This will help the hair from not drying out so much but I would imagine would aid in lubricating the hair, therefore less snagging. I wonder if this would affect how the style looks in the end? A thought for the next go.
A few months on from trying this for the first time, I would definitely give African Threading a try as I have a bit more confidence and I think the results may be more what I am going for, however, I don’t know how it would work on my girl’s hair texture. I’ve seen amazing results on hair that is closer to mine, a win for the type fours! Some more YouTube viewing and research will be had, oh poor me watching hours and hours of hair videos, the torture! Haha!
I will definitely try banding again but I think I will band closer together, try to get her hair straighter between each band and just be more patient, oh and do a little more research and digging first. I also may need to invest in or make a styler/ hair cream to weigh the hair down a little bit more. Until next time… And before I go, how amazing do her curls look here? Bathtime conditioner soaked curls are the best.
Let’s keep growing and learning together!
xx Lee xx
Comments welcome. What techniques are you thinking of trying on your hair?