A pressing comb is a hairstyling tool that uses heated teeth to straighten and flatten hair. It is often used by women who have frizzy, coarse, or ethnic hair. Pressing combs are sometimes referred to as straightening or styling combs and are an alternative to using a traditional flat iron. They vary in price but are generally affordable and can be found at beauty retailers, big-box outlets, or online.
This type of hairstyling tool is comprised of three parts: a handle, a heat setting knob, and a heated comb on the end of a wand. The handle of a more expensive pressing comb might be ergonomically designed or coated in a grip-friendly material to keep the tool from slipping from the hand during use. Different combs have different options for heat settings, and the best combs have variable heat settings. The heated comb is made of metal, often gold-plated, and features tines like a regular comb.
For very curly hair, a high heat setting — more than 300 degrees Fahrenheit (about 148 degrees Celsius) — may be necessary. For finer hair or hair that is easily damaged, a lower heat setting can be used. African American women often favor the pressing comb for its ability to work through coarser hair. Some use a pressing comb on the roots of the hair, which are not easily reached by a flat iron, and then use a regular flat iron on the rest of the hair.
The tine widths on a pressing comb vary. A fine-toothed comb will likely do a better job of straightening very kinky hair. Using a silk or straightening cream on hair prior to using a pressing comb can often yield favorable results. A cream can also help hold a hairstyle and keep hair straighter for longer. Using a pressing comb can serve as an alternative to chemical-based hair relaxants, a more permanent hair-straightening method that subjects the wearer to harsh chemicals and can damage hair.
Users should be careful not to burn their hair when using the highest heat setting on a pressing comb. As with any high-heat styling tool, a pressing comb may damage hair if used too often. Regular conditioning, trims, and breaks from heat styling can help keep hair healthy. Some women allow only a professional hair stylist to use the comb on their hair because of the high heat settings and the possibility of sustaining burns.