Tips For Pressing Hair Without Damaging It
Pressing can be a wonderful addition to your hair routine if you press your hair in moderation. However, if you press your hair in excess (i.e. using the highest temperature setting on your tool, pressing it every day, yanking the comb through hair that is damaged already, using products that dry out your hair, etc.) you will end up with damaged hair.
Here are some tips for pressing your hair without damaging it:
- Don’t press your hair at the highest temperature on your flat iron or pressing comb. High heat can permanently alter the protein bonds in your hair and cause it to lose its naturally curly texture when you wash it. When pressing your hair, you should use enough heat to straighten it until you wash it again, but not to the point of permanently changing the natural texture of your hair. If you are using that much heat, you are damaging your hair.
- Don’t press your hair every day. Again, applying that much heat to your hair will in most cases cause permanent damage to your hair.
- Don’t press relaxed or color-treated hair. Hair that has been relaxed or color treated has already been weakened by the strong chemicals used on it. Adding heat to the mixture will cause the hair to weaken further. If you are trying to grow out your relaxer or color treated hair, and you want to press the new growth, try to avoid the chemically treated sections of your hair if possible.
- Detangle your hair before you press it. If you detangle your hair before you press it, it will make the pressing comb go through your hair much easier and with much less damage than if you try to use the pressing comb to detangle your hair. I talk about how to detangle hair before pressing in my book Twelve Steps For Growing Black Hair.
- Use moisturizing hair care products to wash your hair and a thermal protectant, like Northwest Scents™ hair oil, while you are pressing your hair. I have found that one of the differences between hair that presses nicely, and hair that is brittle and breaks while being pressed, is the type of product used on the hair. If you use moisturizing products on your hair, then your hair will be smoother and softer after you press it. My experience is that when using natural products, like Northwest Scents™, the heat of the pressing comb causes the natural oils to penetrate the hair shaft which in turn causes the hair to be softer and more flexible. If you use harsh hair care products, like harsh shampoos which dry out your hair, or products made with lots of synthetic oils, these products will dry out your hair and contribute to breakage while you are pressing your hair.
- Wear your hair so as not to pull it out. If you press your hair and then wear it tightly braided or pulled into a tight bun or ponytail, you will most likely cause hair breakage.
- Use an electric tool. It is best to use an electric appliance for pressing your hair (an electric pressing comb or electric flat iron) so you can regulate the temperature. Remember, you want to use enough heat to straighten your hair until the next wash, but not so much that you damage the protein structure.
- Avoid that burnt hair smell. If you smell your hair burning, you are using too much heat and you need to turn the temperature down.