Afro hair

How to Stretch Natural 4c Hair

Published By: Kennedy

Last Updated: February 14, 2022

4c hair will surprise you the most, because its shrinkage is so jurassic! Many people want to know of ways they can retain their length without causing damage to their hair. 

The good news is that it is very possible. The better news is that you have several options!

What to Know About 4c Hair

4c hair has the tightest curl pattern on the curl type chart. Its coils are almost indiscernible to the eye and cause the hair to look way shorter than it actually is. 

Shrinkage is a very big factor when it comes to styling 4c hair. Shrinkage is the coily effect that makes the hair look much shorter than it actually is. 4c hair can shrink more than 75% of its actual length. Styling 4c hair in a way that stretches the hair, not only maximizes length but also prevents the hair from tangling around itself.

When styling 4c hair it can be difficult to work with the shrinkage to achieve certain styles. This is why many people want to know ways they can stretch their hair out to achieve maximum length. As we know, 4c hair is very prone to damage, so while straightening the hair or adding chemicals to it does increase length, it also does more harm to the hair than good.

There are several ways to stretch 4c hair without the use of heat or chemicals. In doing so, the hair will remain healthy and retain the necessary moisture and nutrients that it needs. 

Read: How Often Should you Wash 4c Hair?

5 Ways to Stretch Natural 4c Hair (Without Heat)

1. African Threading

African threading is a method that uses thread to wrap the hair and stretch it out. After the thread is left in the hair for a while, the hair will stay stretched after the threading is removed. African threading is a good way to stretch the hair because it does not require the use of heat. 

The threading is simply done by parting the hair into sections and wrapping around the hair with thread from root to tip. It is an easy method to do and will give the hair a blow out effect – without being too poofy. The hair can be styled with the thread, but should only be left in for a maximum of 2 weeks. 

This can also be considered as a protective style, because the thread keeps the hair covered and protects the ends. However, the thread you use can determine whether this style is protective or destructive. It is best to use nylon thread, because cotton thread is very absorbent and can quickly dry your hair out as it makes contact with it. 

The more that the more sections are threaded, the straight the hair will turn out. If your hair is finer, then you want to only do a few sections. 

2. Bantu Knot

Bantu knots are a low manipulation hairstyle that can really soak in moisture and stretch your 4c hair at the same time. Bantu knots originated with the Zulu people of Southern Africa, who have been doing this hairstyle for centuries. 

This is a protective hairstyle, and when it dries the hair remains stretched out when unraveled. Bantu knots are done by parting the hair into sections, twisting the hair, and looping it around itself to create mini-buns all over the head. This style is a great way to take care of your hair and combat shrinkage.  

3. Twist Method

The two-strand twisting method is a very popular way to stretch 4c hair. Twisting the hair takes a shorter amount of time than braiding the hair and creates a spiral look when it is unraveled. Twisting is done by parting the hair into sections and twisting two strands of hair down to the ends. 

If the hair is parted in many sections, the hair will have smaller, spiraly curls. If the sections are parted into less, bigger sections, then the hair will come out with more volume and density, with bigger spirals. Twisting looks great even after they are styled into twists, and can be worn longer than threading or banding. 

4. Banding

Banding the hair is similar to threading, but involves the use of hair bands instead of thread. Banding is an even easier way to stretch the hair than threading. Depending on the texture of the hair it is an effective way to almost straighten the hair without the use of heat. Banding is done by parting the hair into sections, and tying the hair from root to tip with hair bands.

One of the important factors of banding is to use hair ties that are made to prevent damage to the hair. Rubber bands are not a good choice for this style because they are very rough and can cause damage to the hair. 

The bands are usually kept into the hair for a couple of days, until the hair dries, and is a great way to retain the length lost to shrinkage. 

5. Jumbo Rollers

In order to achieve a blowout look people usually use a blow dryer. Rather than applying heat and damaging the cuticles, you can try using jumbo rollers. Jumbo rollers apply tension to the hair and give the look of a voluptuous press and curl.

Jumbo rollers work great on 4c hair and can be applied after moisturizing and detangling the hair. The bigger the rollers, the more volume is added to the hair. However, shorter hair will require smaller rollers, so flexi rods are a good substitute if the hair cannot wrap around jumbo rollers. 

Air drying the hair is the ideal way to allow the hair to dry and stretch, however, sitting under a dryer for a little while can speed up the process.  

Also read: How to Make 4c Hair Curly

Is Stretching Good for 4c Hair?

Stretching the hair is mainly good for removing tangles and knots. When 4c hair is in its natural state, the kinks and coils tend to wrap around themselves and tangle the hair. When you stretch your hair, the hair does not wrap around itself and is easier to comb. 

Not only is the hair easier to comb, but it does not require consistent combing that can pull your hair out. Stretching the hair is also far better for the hair than blow drying and straightening, because it does not suck moisture out of the strands, allowing for the hair to remain in a healthy state. 

How Can I Make my 4c Curls Softer?

When taking the hair out of a certain style to wear it out, it is usually one’s desire for the hair to have soft curls. Brittle hair is often a result of the hair not being moisturized. 

A very effective way to moisturize 4c hair is oil. Hydrating oils include olive oil, coconut oil, tea tree oil, and avocado oil. Applying oil to the hair before putting it into a style will ensure that the moisture is locked in and that the hair will come out soft. 

Another way to ensure softness is to deep condition the hair before styling it. Using deep conditioners and hair masks (infused with protein) will soften the cuticles and result in soft curls after styling. 

How Often Should I Stretch my 4c Hair?

Stretching the hair does have its benefits, but you do not want to do it too often because it can tug your hair too much. Once every two weeks is a healthy amount to stretch the hair, because the hair can remain in a stretched style for a week or more.

It is best to maintain your stretched style by wrapping it in a loose bun at night before going to sleep. If stretching is done constantly, then you risk breakage to the hair. 

The Final Word

Stretching your hair has several benefits and it does not have to be difficult or damaging. 4c hair is so versatile, so take advantage of everything that it has to offer – including it’s length!


I have always had a love for writing and have been blogging for about 3 years now. I have a passion for teaching what I have learned over the years, especially about hair. I have had almost every hairstyle - typical of a cosmetologist’s daughter- including the big chop in 2015. With all the knowledge I have gained, I feel it is my duty to help others on their healthy hair journey. I believe education can be fun, and I strive to make it fun to learn about beautiful black hair.

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