Why Is My Hair Stretchy? Is It Normal? What Does It Mean?

A young African American female with dry hair due to her hair's elasticity issues from using chemical treatments.

Why is my hair stretchy? It’s undoubtedly a common question. Have you ever pulled on a strand of your hair and noticed that it is stretchy?

We’ll bet you were caught by surprise, but before you panic, continue reading this article. We’ll closely examine what causes hair to be stretchy and much more! Let’s get right into it! 

Why is My Hair Stretchy?

Stretchiness (also called the elasticity of your hair) is a sign of healthy hair in many cases. When your hair is adequately moisturized (i.e., hydrated hair), it has a certain degree of elasticity, allowing it to stretch and retract to its previous state without breaking.

You’ll witness your hair’s true elasticity when it’s wet. 

Most people don’t realize that their hair is stretchy until they tug on it accidentally during styling or pull on it purposely to satisfy their curiosity. 

An African American lady with recovering bleached hair wants to improve hair elasticity with a deep conditioner.

How to Tell if Your Hair Is Overstretched

Like most things, hair elasticity exists on a spectrum. If your hair is too stretchy, this could be a sign of a real hair problem.

If you want to know whether your hair’s stretchiness is normal, there is an easy test you can do in the comfort of your home to figure it out. This test is often referred to as an elasticity test, and it’s performed in just a few simple steps:

  1. Start with very wet hair. Spray a section of your hair with plain water or hop in the shower. It should be sopping wet. 
  2. Grab a few strands of hair. 
  3. While holding the strand at the roots, gently stretch the strand with your other hand. Alternatively, you can rake or shingle the section.

If your hair stretches downward but doesn’t curl back up or snaps without much force, it’s got low elasticity, which makes it more vulnerable to mechanical damage and breakage.

A cute young black girl with natural curls that uses a Curly Girl hair care routine focused on improving hair elasticity.

Other Reasons Why Your Hair is Stretchy

There are several other reasons why your hair may be stretchy. We’ll go through each of them below so you can determine whether you need to make some changes to your regimen. 

Heat Damage from Hot Tools

Heat damage is one of the most common culprits behind hair with low elasticity. When you think of heat-damaged hair, you probably imagine hair that looks dry or frizzy.

In addition to that, heat-damaged curls also behave a bit differently.

When curly hair becomes damaged by heat, the structural integrity of each strand is weakened, resulting in limp and stretched-out curls that can’t hold their shape (e.g., burned straight hair).

A black girl experienced moisture loss due to hair shaft damage from heat styling tools showing off new hair growth.

Chemical Damage from Hair Dye and Bleach

The harsh chemicals in treatments such as permanent dye and bleach can leave your tresses looking more betrayed than laid. This is most true of at-home coloring kits.

Common hair dye chemicals like hydrogen peroxide, resorcinol, and even ammonia cause the hair to become brittle and can permanently destroy your hair’s ability to bounce back.

A pretty young African female with natural curls styled with a hair mask and aloe vera for restoring moisture.

“Un” protective Styles

Protective styles are supposed to minimize hair damage and maximize length retention. Unfortunately, protective styles are often worn in not-so-protective ways.

Beloved hairstyles, including box braids, cornrows, and high buns, instantly become damaging when done with too much tension or worn too often.

Repetitive tension can cause the hair to stretch past its limit, easily leading to overstretched hair and even traction alopecia. 

A beautiful young African woman with natural coils styled with a hair mask and aloe vera for restoring moisture.

Imbalanced Moisture Levels

Striking a balance between dry and oily hair is tricky for curly girls and guys, but it’s essential. Just as moisturizing your skin helps keep it hydrated, keeping your hair moisturized helps foster healthy elasticity.

If your hair is too dry, it can become susceptible to severe breakage.

On the other hand, if it is over-moisturized, it will be too weak to curl properly, leading to overstretched, lifeless hair.

How To Fix Overstretched Hair

Have you realized that you’ve got overstretched hair? Don’t worry. There are several things you can do to fix the problem, and we’ll go over a number of helpful remedies below. 

A black girl with damaged hair shafts from heat-styling tools revealed fresh hair growth.

Protein Treatments

Protein treatments are first in line in terms of repairing overstretched hair.


While we don’t want to bore you with the exact science, your hair strands are mainly made up of proteins such as keratin. Those proteins help strengthen your strands, giving them more structure.

With moisture and protein balanced, you’ll experience less stretch over time.  

For that reason, protein treatments are recognized as a suitable remedy for hair with low elasticity. You can add more protein to your hair directly by investing in protein-packed shampoos and conditioners.

You can also up your protein by increasing the amount you consume in your diet. 

Note: Remember to use your protein treatments sparingly so you don’t overload your hair – protein overload is another monster entirely

A lovely young black female with naturally curly hair is focused on preventing breakage caused by heated styling.

Let Your Hair Dry

If you have thick, densely packed hair, it probably takes a while for your tresses to dry completely. While having slightly damp hair all day may seem innocent enough, there’s actually a good chance it could be causing your stretchy hair problem.

Leaving your hair wet too often will over-hydrate your hair and damage your follicles, contributing to overstretched hair. The official name for this is “hygral fatigue.”

When doing a wash-n-go or other wet style, make sure you dry your hair thoroughly. You can blow-dry your hair with a diffuser to mitigate heat damage and prevent frizz.

But this doesn’t mean that you can’t air-dry your hair – just make sure that it’s 100% dry before putting it in a ponytail or covering it up with a bonnet or scarf.

And don’t drench your hair with water every day – the more your hair cuticles swell up with water and then unswell as it dries, the higher your chances of developing hygral fatigue. 

A lady with damaged bleached hair wants to increase hair flexibility with a protein treatment for curly hair types.

Be Patient

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and likely, your hair won’t return to its previous state in a day, either.

Once you find the root cause(s) of your overstretched hair and change your routine accordingly, follow your new hair regimen for at least a month and give yourself a chance to see results.

Remember to be consistent and to keep your washes and styling on a schedule for the best results.

When Overstretched Hair Can’t Be Fixed, Do This

So, you’ve tried everything, and your hair is still overstretched. What’s next? Well, if you find that your hair is prone to overstretching, it might be hereditary.

If that’s the case, your best option is to use styling products with a strong hold, like a stiff gel to help compensate for your hair’s inability to bounce back.

If your hair typically has normal elasticity but hasn’t recovered in over a month, it may be in your best interest to cut the overstretched part of your hair off. 

A young African American woman with brittle hair as a result of too much protein and heat-related hair problems.

Before you start sounding the alarms, we know cutting your hair is a big deal.

While cutting or trimming unhealthy hair is great for overall hair health, you don’t have to cut all your damaged hair at once. Instead, you can transition. 

Transitioning means you simultaneously grow your hair out while gradually getting rid of the damaged hair. Some don’t cut any hair until their new growth gets to a length that they’re comfortable with.

Others will trim off a small portion of hair every few weeks to make the change gradual and less noticeable. 

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There’s no doubt about it – looking in the mirror and seeing overstretched, limp curls can be discouraging. But remember that there are many options when restoring your hair to its former glory. Most importantly, remember that if all else fails, hair grows back!

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