Stretching comes very naturally to me. You have to have patience in order to stretch successfully, which will then yield in good results :)
Definition: Stretching is defined as "waiting" longer than the traditional 8-10 weeks until you get your next touch up. If you go any longer than 8-10 weeks, that means that you're stretching. Normal stretchers can stretch up to about 12-14 weeks. Advanced stretchers can stretch up to a period of 6 months to a year!
Why Do People Stretch?: The importance of stretching is to avoid over processing [which could lead to weakened damaged hair], gain a greater amount of length, and also strengthening and thickening up the hair.
Different Textures: When you stretch for a period of time, there will be an obvious difference in textures. This difference is where the natural hair [new growth] meets the relaxed hair. In the hair world, we call this the demarcation line. The demarcation line is very fragile and the relaxed ends can easily be snapped off from the natural hair if the two textures are not properly moisturized on a regular basis.
Hairstyles: Some people stretch by doing protective styles 24/7 or simply by getting braids. I honestly can not stretch for 6 months with out braids..I would go crazy and probably relax sooner. I normally get 2-3 inches of growth when i stretch for 6 months. I know that doesn't sound like a lot, but i don't take growth aids to increase my growth rate. Hair grows at about .5 inches per month, so this is normal for me to get 2- 3 inches of growth with out any growth aids. I am now just considering taking growth aids.
How i stretch:
1. I get a relaxer
2. When I am almost 3 months post [12 weeks], i get box braids and leave them in for 2 whole months
3. I take out my braids after 2 months and this leaves me at 5 months post [20 weeks]
4. I deep condition and strengthen my hair for the whole month prior to the relaxer process
5. I am now 6 months post [24 weeks] and ready for a relaxer ;)
Since I'm APL [arm pit length] now, i decided not to get box braids anymore because i feel my hair has graduated from braids. My hair is now very close to the length of the human hair i use for box braids, and i don't want to go any longer because it becomes difficult to sleep in. So, i cut my stretching time to 3 months instead of 6.