Heat styling tools dominate the hair care industry today, and African American women with thick, textured or kinky hair often turn to these tools for an answer to their voluminous locks. Hair pressing has gone through a number of incarnations, including the harsh practice of using a hot comb. Today, many women use a standard flat iron to get sleek results. Since heat styling strips African American hair of moisture and shine, applying nutrients and using the right styling tools will minimize the dullness and breakage of pressed hair for those seeking to maintain sleek locks.
Apply a moisturizing, soothing heat protectant to your hair every single time you use a flat iron, curling iron or other heat styling tool. African American hair requires a protectant that reinforces protein bonds and encourages deep moisture in the strands to avoid breakage.
Invest in a tourmaline or ceramic flat iron with adjustable heat settings. These higher quality irons for pressing tresses at home reduce friction and frying, compared to lower-end flat irons. African American hair should be pressed with the lowest amount of heat possible to avoid drying and breakage.
Apply a deep conditioner to your tresses once a week. Invest in a store-bought deep conditioner made for African American hair or you can apply coconut or olive oil. Deep conditioners infiltrate the hair shaft and help protect the proteins that create strong hair. Coat your entire hair in the conditioner from roots to tips.
Clip your conditioned hair up on top of your head and put a shower cap over the hair. The heat from your head will help the conditioner soak into the strands for a deeper conditioning experience.
Leave the conditioner in place for 30 minutes. Rinse out the deep conditioner in the shower with warm water and a moisturizing, sulfate-free shampoo and rinse out conditioner.
Avoid heat styling whenever possible and give your hair a few days of rest each week.
Get your tresses trimmed regularly, about every two to three months, to remove the dried out ends and encourage healthier hair over the long term.
Apply a leave-in shine-enhancing conditioner to hair every few days. Formulas with grapeseed oil, argan oil and keratin give African American hair strength and shine after intense heat treatments. Keratin is especially effective at reintroducing essential proteins for healthy hair.