Should You Press Your Hair During a Natural Transition?

Avoid too much pressing during your transition to natural hair.
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Transitioning from relaxed hair to natural hair isn't always easy. You have to deal with two different textures and this can sometimes put a crimp in daily styling. Some women opt to press their new growth in order to match the texture to relaxed ends. But is this a good option during a transition?

Should You Press Your Hair During a Natural Transition?

The answer to this question really depends on what you hope to achieve and how you want to wear your hair most of the time.

However, it's important to note that pressing the hair to straighten the roots in order to match previously straightened ends can be risky business. Here's why:

  • The line of demarcation, or where your natural hair (new growth) meets chemically processed hair, is weak and especially prone to damage and breakage. Regular deep conditioning, using moisturizing products and applying protein treatments are crucial for minimizing breakage in this area. When you press or flat iron new growth, the heat can affect this line, increasing the risk for damage and stalling your efforts at healthy hair growth.
  • If you're not careful with the amount of heat you apply, you may alter the texture in your new growth, sometimes permanently. Hair can be "damaged straight" with too much heat or heat applied too often. All of the time you invested into transitioning can be wasted with one careless ironing session. Even if you're not transitioning from chemicals, but instead moving away from constantly heat-styled tresses, you may not have a true idea of what your actual texture is like due to the "controlled damage" suffered through continuous pressing/ironing.
  • You're prolonging the inevitable. The point of transitioning to natural hair is wearing your hair in its natural state, right? If you constantly press your roots to match your straightened locks, you're not learning how to style your natural hair; you're still clinging to straight hairstyles and techniques, which are often very different from natural ones. A better bet is to choose styles that curl the relaxed ends and make them match your new growth instead of trying to get natural hair to do something unnatural.

    Being Smart With Heat

    There's nothing wrong with the occasional press during transitioning. Make sure you practice smart flat ironing techniques to minimize your breakage risk, especially the application of a good heat protectant every time you practice thermal styling. You should also only adjust your flat iron as hot as you need it to do the straightening job you want; don't crank your heat tools to 450 degrees if you can get satisfactory results at 325. A lot of hair acceptance is mental, however, so getting to a place where you're happy with your natural texture as is will make a big difference in how much or how often you want to alter it. Ultimately, if natural hair is your goal, learning what it needs and wants sooner rather than later, will not only make your hair happier, it can make you happier by cutting down on the frustration of working with different textures.