Silk Press For Natural Hair

press silk vs press n curl


Silk Press For Natural Hair

A silk press is a method of straightening natural hair using heat. Unlike chemical straightening treatments such as relaxers, a silk press will only temporarily straighten natural hair. Once you wash your hair after a silk press, it will revert back to its naturally curly state. The silk press is an ideal way to safely straighten your natural hair when you want to temporarily change up your style. Let’s take a look at how a silk press is done and which products and tools you need to achieve this style.

1What Is A Silk Press?

To prep for a silk press, the hair is first shampooed, conditioned, and blow dried. Then it’s straightened with a flat iron. The ends of the hair are usually curled with the flat iron as well. The result is shiny, straight hair that is silky smooth – hence the name: silk press. Hair straightened with a silk press is also usually bouncy and healthy-looking. If you’ve ever tried straightening your naturally curly/kinky hair, then you know that can be a challenge, as it has the natural inclination to revert to its natural curl pattern. As a result, we sometimes resort to doing multiple passes with the flat iron in order to get the results we’re looking for. Unfortunately, this often leads to heat damage. A silk press that’s done correctly should not result in heat damage.

2Silk Press vs Press N’ Curl

You might be wondering how a silk press differs from a traditional press n’ curl. The difference is that a press n’ curl is traditionally done with a hot comb and curling iron. While both methods typically yield good results, many argue that the silk press is less damaging to the hair than a press n’ curl: mostly because it’s a lot easier to control the temperature of a flat iron than a hot comb and a flat iron does the job of both the hot comb and the curling iron.  At the end of the day, how well your hair turns out and how much damage you sustain or avoid depends on a few different factors: how your hair is prepped beforehand, the amount of heat that’s applied to the hair, and the technique you or your stylist uses.

3How To Do A Silk Press At Home

To do a silk press, you should first wash and deep condition the hair to ensure that it is free from any product build-up and well moisturized. If you use a lot of styling products, products with silicones, or if you primarily cowash, a good clarifying shampoo will ensure that you have a nice clean slate before your silk press. If you use a clarifying shampoo, you can follow up with a moisturizing shampoo before you deep condition. Then follow up with a leave-in conditioner and a heat protectant before blow drying and flat ironing the hair. Work in small sections when blow drying and flat ironing to avoid having to use an excessive amount of heat on your hair.

4Products To Use Before A Silk Press

Here are some examples of good products you can use in preparation for your silk press:

Kinky Curly Come Clean: This clarifying shampoo uses natural ingredients to rid your hair and scalp of dirt, oil, and build up.

Creme of Nature Argan Oil Shampoo:  This is a popular shampoo that provides moisture and gentle cleansing. If you have to clarify before a silk press, it’s a good idea to follow up with a moisturizing shampoo like this one.

Mielle Organics Babassu Oil Mint Deep Conditioner: Mielle Organics Babassu Oil Mint Deep Conditioner: Many users rant and rave about this product’s moisturizing capabilities, making it an ideal deep conditioner to prep for a silk press.

Curls Unleashed Leave-In Conditioner:  This leave-in conditioner contains silicones, which excludes it from a curly-girl friendly routine. However, silicones can actually provide heat protection because they create a protective barrier, making products like this one ideal to use before a silk press.

5Best Silk Press Products To Use

A good heat protectant is always a good idea when using any heat styling tool, but especially for a silk press, since you will be using two forms of heat: a blow dryer and a flat iron.CHI is a popular brand that makes several heat protectant products you can apply to the hair before blow drying and flat ironing. Heat damage is usually irreversible, so this is one step you definitely shouldn’t skip.

6Blow Drying Hair For A Silk Press

It’s important to use good quality heat styling tools for a silk press. When it comes to blow dryers, it’s ideal to use one that has several heat settings. Don’t be tempted to speed up the drying time by using the blow dryer on its highest heat setting. Blow dryers that use ionic technology usually dry your hair faster, reducing the amount of heat you need to apply. They also tend to cause less frizz. You don’t have to spend a ton of money on a good blow dryer. Do your research; there are many affordable models out there, like the Babyliss Pro Nano Titanium Travel Dryer. 

7Choosing A Flat Iron

A good flat iron is even more important. Flat irons with ceramic plates generally ensure even heat distribution which is ideal for consistent results. Flat irons with titanium plates are preferred by many stylists because of titanium’s ability to conduct heat. You can generally straighten your hair on a lower temperature and with fewer passes. There are many brands and models out there, so definitely do your research. Here are two popular models:

Babyliss Pro Nano Titanium: Babyliss is a trusted brand that consistently gets great reviews. This model in particular is very popular.

HSI Professional Ceramic Tourmaline Ionic Flat Iron: Not only is this flat iron highly rated, it’s also very affordable.

8Tips To Avoid Heat Damage

Here are some tips to help you avoid heat damage:

Use A Good Heat Protectant, like HSI Professional Thermal Protector: I Cannot stress this enough. A heat protectant can be the difference between hair that reverts back to its natural curl pattern and hair that is permanently straightened.

Blow Dry Using The Tension Method: The tension method involves holding each section of the hair taut as you blow dry it. This method avoids unnecessary manipulation that’s involved with using a comb attachment and allows you to use a low heat setting to dry the hair.

Work In Small Sections: This is important when blow drying and flat ironing. Larger sections take longer to dry and straighten, causing you to have to use more heat to accomplish your mission. Split the hair into smaller sections to limit the amount of heat you’re putting on your hair.

9More Tips To Avoid Heat Damage

Keep The Temperature Down: use the lowest possible heat settings on your blow dryer and flat iron during a silk press. A cool setting on a blow dryer is a great way to reduce the amount of heat you apply to your hair. It can also help seal the hair cuticles.

One Or Two Passes: If your hair is blown out and you work in small sections, ideally you’ll only need to do one or two passes with the flat iron.

Roller Set Instead Of Blow Drying: This isn’t standard for a silk press, but you have the option of doing a roller set to dry the hair instead of using a blow dryer. Hooded and bonnet dryers use indirect heat to dry your hair and the rollers will keep the hair stretched while drying. You should only need to do one or two passes with the flat iron on a low heat setting, as your hair should be semi-straight from the roller set.

10How To Preserve A Silk Press and how long does a silk press last?

In order to make a silk press last, it’s important to make sure you keep your hair away from moisture, or else it will revert back to its natural state. If you live in a city that’s especially humid during the summer, you might want to opt for getting a silk press during the cooler months. It’s also important to wrap your hair with a silk or satin bonnet or scarf at night. You can wrap your hair in a circular motion around your head in one direction using a brush and securing the hair with large bobby pins, as pictured here. This popular method helps keep the hair stretched and secure underneath your bonnet or scarf. In the morning, just remove the bobby pins, gently unwrap, and comb your hair back down. When properly preserved, a silk press can last for one or two weeks.

11Silk Press on Natural Hair – Final Thoughts

Whether you decide to get a silk press at the salon or do it yourself at home, remember to put your hair’s health first. A professional stylist who prioritizes your hair’s health will be able to give you amazing results. With patience and the proper care before and after, you can get fantastic results at home too. A silk press can be a great way to safely, temporarily straighten your natural hair.