Shrinkage is one of the common struggles those with textured hair encounter. While generally a sign of healthy hair, shrinkage also sometimes leads to the formation of knots and tangles, causing breakage--or at least marathon detangling sessions. (Sign me up for neither, thank you.) There are a number of ways to stretch your natural hair; one is by banding. This involves the use of hair ties or ponytail holders to gently stretch the hair by holding the curls in an elongated position as they dry.

Is the Banding Method for you?

Banding can yield different looking results depending on your texture and curl pattern. You may end up with looser curls or waves or blow out like straightness.  As always a bit of experimentation might be necessary to figure out the best way to achieve the look you like best since each head of hair is unique. 

Begin with hair that has been freshly washed, conditioned and detangled.

Hair should be damp, not soaking wet.

Apply your leave-in conditioner, seal and add your moisturizer or styler of choice.

Follow the routine that works best for you when it comes to moisturizing your hair post wash.

Section hair into medium-sized, workable sections as appropriated for the length and density of your hair.

The thicker or shorter your hair, the more sections you will need. Use whatever hair ties you like. Goody Goody Ouchless Comfort Ponytailer Black 14 CT, Goody Goody Striped Headwraps, 10 CT, Goody Goody Girls Ouchless Terry PonyOs, 24 CT or similar products are all examples of ponytail holders that you may use.

Wrap your ponytail holder twice around the base of your section.

Move your fingers down about an inch and wrap the band around the hair at that section.

Continue wrapping the ponytail holder around the length of the section as you work your way down from the root to the ends of the section.

Several hair ties may be required depending on the length of your hair.

Blot any extra product from your sections--this will help cut down on your drying time.

Repeat until all your sections have been banded. Allow to hair to air dry thoroughly before removing the ponytail holders.

Other important things to note

  • The closer you wrap the hair tie along the length of the hair the more your hair will stretch and the less of your initial curl pattern will remain at the end of the banding process.
  • The larger you make each section of hair the longer that section will take to dry. This is also one of the reasons you want to start with damp and not soaking wet hair.
  • Be careful not to wrap the hair too lightly as you risk breakage and damage to the hair by doing so.

Watch a full banding tutorial by YouTube creator, AshleyMichelle:

Have you tried banding your hair to combat shrinkage before? What is your go to method for stretching your curls?