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Healthy hair requires regular maintenance, which includes steering clear of some damaging practices. While many of us love indirect heat, some of us use direct heat for drying hair and creating specific styles. One specific style that requires heat is called a silk press, usually achieved with a hot comb. Lfriday was curious about the damaging effects of a protective style following a silk press in Curly Q&A.  

Question

Is it healthy to get braids right after silk press? I have 3C type of hair and I just got a silk press. Should I get braids a week later?

Answer

Glad to hear you are inquiring about what to do with your hair before deciding to do it. A lot of what we do with or to our hair requires real thought before moving forward. That does not mean you cannot do anything with your strands; it just means it helps to treat our hair with "kid gloves."

How to care for hair after a silk press

Direct heat is hard on our curly strands, and even if you do not experience heat damage, direct heat is drying to curly hair. For those reasons it is important that we do not aggravate breakage after direct heat applications. Follow this regimen to care for your hair after a silk press.

1. Cleanse with a clarifying shampoo

Cleansing with a gentle clarifying shampoo after you have finished using direct heat like a flat iron or blow-dryer is necessary because of the heat protectants and other products you have used on your hair. Most heat protectants use silicones, which cause buildup on the hair, and while they are essential for protecting the hair, they must be removed using sulfates. We love curly favorites Kinky-Curly Come Clean and Elucence Volume Clarifying Shampoo. For drugstore options try VO5 Herbal Escapes Clarifying Shampoo or Suave Naturals Daily Clarifying Shampoo.

2. Deep condition (use heat too!)

This should be a wash day staple, but if it is not then it most definitely must be done after a silk press or use of direct heat. Use a deep moisturizing conditioner and adding heat also helps the nutrients and moisturizers fully penetrate the hair shaft and bring hydration back to the strands. Deep conditioners are heavier than regular conditioners and help to strengthen hair and restore hydration after damaging direct heat. If you need a deep conditioner for your product arsenal, try curly community favorites SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque or EDEN BodyWorks Coconut Shea All Natural Hair Masque, or drugstore options Aussie Moist Deeeep 3 Minute Miracle Moisture Treatment and Neutrogena Triple Moisture Daily Deep Conditioner. To achieve the benefits of heat, you can either microwave your deep conditioner before applying it to your hair, or when your hair is saturated in your deep conditioner  you can place a shower cap or a warming Hair Therapy Wrap over your hair for 15-30 minutes, then rinse.

3. Give hair a two week break

We need to give curly hair a break from heat for a few reasons. Using a lot of sulfates can be hard on our delicate strands, so taking a break from using heat protectants means taking a break from sulfates. Another reason for the break is the fact that you just restored your hair with a moisturizing deep conditioner. This is not the time to deplete it again. Giving your hair at least two weeks is a great way to allow hair to build back its hydration. Hair needs a break in between heat sessions just like added hair.

You want hair as strong and as healthy as possible before placing hair in braids, so giving it two weeks, a serious deep conditioning, and a clarifying cleansing is a great way to prep hair for your braids, or any hairstyle you plan to wear your curls in.