This is my 3rd long stretch and luckily, I was able to avoid excessive breakage while doing so.
1st stretch- 16 weeks
2nd stretch- 22 weeks
Currently Stretching @ 15 weeks post.
My first 2 stretches, I put in some box braids(with extentions) after about week 6 or 7. This time around I did not put any braids in my hair until now @ a little over 14 weeks. So, I have a few tips to offer.
What is Relaxer Stretching?
On the back of a relaxer "they" suggest to relax every 6-8 weeks. This may work for some, but some people do not have enough new-growth to avoid overlapping on to already relaxed ends. Although you can coat relaxed ends with an oil or vaselene, stretching is the sure fire way to prevent overlapping from happening.
So stretching is to extend the amount of time from each relaxer. If you usually relax every 7 weeks and would like to relax at 8, you are stretching your relaxer.
1.) Moisture, Moisture, Protein, Moisture
M-Keep your New Growth Moisturized At All Times- You also need to keep relaxed ends moisturized, but pay close attention to new-growth
M-If your not into Co-Washes, Make sure to use a sulfate free or moisturizing shampoo on wash day and always follow up with a very moisturizing conditioner
P- When your further in your stretch, starting at about week 8, you need to up your protein to keep the demarcation(point where relaxed ends meet the newgrowth) strong. So, do a mild-strong protein treatment after washing. An egg mixed with a moisturizing conditioner and an oil works great
M- Always follow up with a moisturizing Deep Conditioning Treatment after using Protein
2.) Try out some MSM- Not only is MSM great for bones and joints, but it is a good vitamin for hair. Some say they saw some increased hair growth, but when I took MSM..I noticed my curl pattern loosened up a bit. Mostly because I was deficient in that vitamin and by taking it, my hair became healthier and softer growing in. I was taking 1000 MG daily and made sure to take Opti MSM. Feel free to do a search on Google (MSM for Hair Growth). Because I had a looser curl pattern, I was able to manage my new-growth better.
DRINK PLENTY OF WATER too!
3.) Low Manipulation or Protective Styles- Try out some styles where you don't have to focus or deal with your newgrowth on a constant basis or deal with heat.
* Half Wigs
4.) Save all of the Combing for when you actually Detangle- Hair should really be combed when it is moisturized to the fullest. Excessive combing just means more manipulation and more breakage your may see. If you wear your hair down all the time and your roots aren't completely straight(from a blow-out or flat-iron), make sure your roots are extremely moisturized before combing or else YOU WILL SEE BREAKAGE. I also suggest finger combing.
5.) Blow-Out the roots- I don't suggest using a lot of heat, but you shouldn't always have to compromise what you usually like for the sake of healthy hair. If you like to wear your hair straight all the time, do a normal roller set and asked to have roots only blow-dried. Make sure to use heat protectant though!! This will help in dealing with the two textures.
To Keep it moisturized with-out the probability of reversion, try using oils that penetrate the shaft(Coconut Oil, Olive Oil or Avocado Oil) OR use an oil based moisturizer(water is still first ingredient, but an Oil follows water. So it's basically something much thicker then a moisturizer with a watery consistency)
6.) If breakage occurs at the line of Demarcation, fix the Breakage then just Relax-What I mean is stretching a relaxer is not for everyone. If you normally relax at week 8 and are trying to stretch 12 weeks and see breakage at 9. Follow tip 1.), make sure your breakage is under control, then relax. You don't want to cause more harm then good.