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FEATURES Jun 24 2012 10:18AM
3

Is it okay to get your hair pressed when you are transitioning from relaxed hair to natural hair?

ELLE SAYS:  Honestly, it depends on what you want to do with your natural hair. If you plan to be a straight haired natural, I see no issue with regularly pressing your hair without excessively using heat (i.e., weekly is probably too much). On the other hand, if you are going to wear your natural texture, it may be a good idea to press your hair much less, or not at all so you do not damage your new growth.

Although I no longer believe heat is the devil, I do think it’s important to understand how heat affects our hair and the potential consequences of heat usage. Each time you straighten your hair, you are breaking the hydrogen bonds of your strands. With excessive use, these bonds do not revert completely, causing a looser curl pattern, and possibly splits and breakage from the heat significantly drying out your ends. The before, during, and after care of using heat are very important, which is why I prefer to straighten my own hair rather than go to a salon. Before blow drying or flat ironing, I always wash my hair and use a deep conditioner with protein (and usually silicones) to strengthen and protect my strands.  When I go back to curly, I always do a protein treatment to give some kick back to my curls and avoid permanent damage.

When using heat, it’s also important to consider the current state of your hair’s health and knowing how much heat your hair can tolerate. If your hair is already weak and breaking, heat will only make it break more. Also, finer hair often cannot tolerate as much heat as a thicker, coarser strand, so keep that in mind when you are determining what temperature to flat iron or press on. Technically, anything higher than 420 degrees (Fahrenheit) will melt the keratin in your hair.

Using heat is an easy way to lend versatility to your hairstyles, but be cautious to avoid a setback during your transitioning process.

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