The short answer to this question is:
It depends on how you press your hair.
The long answer to this question is:
The word pressing can mean different things if you ask different people. To me pressing means taking a heated hair appliance like a flat iron or a pressing comb and running it through the hair to straighten the hair. There are many factors involved in this process which will determine whether or not pressing is good for your hair.
Pressing Can Benefit Your Hair and Help It To Grow If:
1. You 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 it’s 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.
2. You 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.
3. You don’t press relaxed hair. Hair that has been relaxed has already been weakened by the strong chemicals used on it. Adding heat to the mixture will cause the hair to weaken further.
4. You 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.
5. You 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.
6. You 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.
7. You 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.
8. You don’t get that burnt hair smell. If you smell your hair burning, you are using too much heat and you need to turn the temperature down.