What To Know Before You Get A Silk Press

If you grew up styling your curly or kinky hair, you probably heard textured hair described as unmanageable, unpresentable, or challenging to work with. Contrary to that prevailing belief which many might argue is one of the effects of systemic discrimination — curly hair is not unmanageable. The various hairstyles you can achieve with curly hair are a testament to its versatility. Like braids, puffs, knots, and fros, another hairstyle that leverages the versatility of highly textured hair is the silk press, which hairstylist John George III described to Behind The Chair as a blow-out technique made for curly or textured hair. A silk press combines a blow-out, which straightens the hair, and flat-ironing, which adds a silky smooth finish.


As no relaxers or harsh chemicals are used, silk presses offer a safe and temporary option for hair straightening, per Hair Shepherd. If you ever wanted a silky straight hairdo without using chemical treatments or causing damage to your curls, the silk press is about to become your new favorite. Here's how it's done.

How is the silk press done?

With the silk press, you can do it yourself or get it done by a professional. If you're going the DIY route, Natural Girl Wigs says to ensure a friend or neighbor is around to help you straighten the sections in the back. But we recommend getting it done by a professional hairstylist with the expertise and the tools needed to give you the best press yet, per Hair


Now, for the process. You always want to start with clean hair. Wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo like the Briogeo Charcoal + Coconut Oil Micro-exfoliating Shampoo. Follow up with a hydrating shampoo, perhaps, the Maui Moisture Heal + Hydrate + Shea Butter Shampoo, which has a rating of 4.4 stars at Ulta. Next up, VoiceOfHair says to deep condition using a hydrating hair mask or apply a leave-in conditioner. Then divide your hair into sections, detangle, and apply a heat protectant like the Agave & Lavender Weightless Thermal Protectant by Design Essentials before blow drying through the sections, a process Carol's Daughter says should be done on damp hair.

Once that's done, flat-iron. After dividing the hair into smaller sections, set the flat iron low to medium heat, per Natural Girl Wigs. However, Carol's Daughter warns that your hair has to be completely dry before flat-ironing to prevent heat damage. After flat-ironing, trim your ends and style your hair any way you want with hairspray for hold and shine.


Should you be worried about heat damage? And how much does it cost?

A bad silk press technique and excess heat can damage your hair by ruining your natural curl pattern. When heat damage permanently ruins your natural curl pattern, there is the chance the remedy would be to cut the strands off, per Dyson. This is why working on clean hair, deep conditioning, and limiting heat or the number of passes of your flat iron are essential to the process. Of course, always talk to your hairstylist and ask questions about heat use and the protectant products that will be employed during the process before your appointment, via Naturally Curly. Your hairstylist will be able to discern if your hair is healthy enough for a silk press, especially if you use heat often and are more at risk of heat damage.


As for cost, UNice explains you might spend anywhere between $50 and $200. Of course, the price of your silk press depends on factors like the experience of the hairstylist and the salon's location — this is a general range.

How long will your silk press last? And how do you maintain it?

On average, your silk press can last between two and three weeks, depending on your hair's texture, how well it was done, and most of all, how well you preserve the look, per Elite Hair Lounge. To maintain your new press, All Things Hair says to avoid adding additional products to your hair as this can lead to product buildup. Product buildup can weigh down on your hair, ruining the silky finish of the look and shortening the lifespan of your press. Also, L'Oréal Paris says to stay away from heat and avoid trying to re-straighten your hair to preserve your silk press. Heat damage is real, and it's not pretty.


Moisture can also ruin your silk press by reverting your now straight hair to its original, curly state, per EAP Heat. So avoid long hot showers, hydrating hair sprays, saunas, or any place or product with high humidity, as it can shorten the length of time your silk press should last. And lastly, always wear a silk scarf to bed to protect your press from frizz and keep the look intact. With cleansed hair, a great flat iron technique, and proper maintenance, a silk press might be what you need to break your routine.