African-American woman with natural hair twisted

Let me tell you, there is nothing more frustrating than having long, curly hair, but no one can see it. This daily challenge curlies refer to as "shrinkage" presents several problems for us curlies with type 4 kinks. It's almost like one day you're rocking a blown out twistout and everyone can't believe how long your hair has gotten. The next day, you come in with a shrunken afro and mouths drop. You are constantly bombarded with, "I love your haircut" all day long. I can't be the only one who has experienced this, right?

I appreciate my shrunken fros, but don't get me wrong - I love a good stretched twistout so I can make a couple of hair flips happen throughout the day (no, just me? OK).

The good part is, no matter how you feel about your hair shrinkage, there are endless ways to elongate your curly hair and give it a nice stretch.

Here are 3 ways to stretch your curly hair:

Blow-dry Curls Using the Tension Method

Some say blow drying your curls can cause damage. I say your blow dryer can be your best friend if you use it correctly. When wanting a longer, stretched look, I turn my blow dryer on the "cool" setting. This allows the temperature to find a sweet spot between cold and warm. This helps keep the heat damage away.

Once we're turned on cool, I use the tension method to blow dry my hair. Instead of using the comb attachment or a brush, I simply hold my hair our at its length and blow dry. This means thoroughly detangling my hair first, then stretching it to its maximum length and waving the blow dryer back and forth until that section dries.

In all, it takes me about 30-40 minutes to complete this task. Keep in mind, I have a lot of hair, so times may vary depending on your hair length.

Check out the tutorial below.

African Threading

If you have some time to spare - maybe a weekend - African threading can be a lifesaver. You'll use weaving thread to wrap around the entire length of your hair. This will keep your curls in a stretched state as they dry. Once your hair is fully dry, you'll remove the thread and style as usual. It'll look as if you've just blow dried your curls - but without heat.

This method does take a while to see results as your hair will need to fully dry before you can take the thread out.

african threading

Braiding or Twisting

The easiest method to stretching your curls is to braid or twist in medium-sized

Here are some other stretching methods being used by other curlies:

"I like to use the banding method to stretch my hair. It involves wrapping hair ties along the length of your hair. You let it dry and you've got stretched hair." - Courtney

"If I need to stretch my hair I just put it into a bun. Once it's dried, I take it out, remoisturize and we're all good to go." - Lena

So you know how to stretch your curls, but what types of products are best to keep them stretched? Since I have type 4 kinky curls, my hair seems to stretch better when using heavier products.

Here are a few I recommend:

What methods do you use for stretching your curls?