The Ultimate Guide to Silk Press: Tips, Techniques, and Maintenance

21 mins read
Silk Press
Silk Press

If you’re someone who frequently uses a flat iron on your naturally curly hair at home, you’re probably familiar with the concept of a silk press. It’s a temporary hairstyle that takes the sleekness and shine of straightened hair to a whole new level of glossiness and silkiness. According to hairstylist and colorist Chrissy Zemura, a silk press can transform natural hair into a smooth, shiny, silky, and soft look. It adds body and movement without resorting to relaxers or chemical treatments that permanently straighten hair.

While it is possible to achieve a silk press at home with the right tools, techniques, and products, there’s a good reason why professional hairstylists specialize in this technique and offer it in salons. The process involves four major steps. In the following section, you’ll discover how a skilled hairstylist performs a silk press, tips for making the style last longer, and important considerations to keep in mind before scheduling an appointment.

What Is a Silk Press?

“The technique itself has been in use for quite some time, but the term ‘silk press’ was coined as a clever wordplay. It essentially involves using a flat iron to press the hair and achieve a silky-smooth texture,” Zemura explains. “It’s important to note that this effect is temporary, and over time, your hair will naturally return to its original curly state.”

How To Do a Silk Press

Step 1: Deep Cleanse

First things first, your hair needs a good wash to get rid of all the gunk from products and daily life. This is the foundation for a silk press that’s got that natural bounce and flow. The suggestion from Zemura? Go for a clarifying shampoo like O&M’s Original Detox Shampoo.

Step 2: Deep Conditioning

Now, let’s talk about moisture. You want your hair to be well-nourished and hydrated before you even think about using any heat. This step is what’s going to give your silk press that stunning shine later on. Here’s the trick: Apply a deep-conditioning treatment for at least 15 minutes, and use a hot towel or steam cap to really lock in the goodness. Then, rinse it off with cool water – that seals the hair cuticle and helps it lay flatter.

Step 3: Blow-Dry with Care

Time to bring in the heat tools, but before that, make sure you give your hair a thorough blow-dry. We’re talking bone dry here; not a hint of moisture should be left.

Step 4: Styling with Heat Tools

Now, the fun part! When you’re doing that initial blow-dry, it’s time to introduce brushes, heat protectants, and hydrating mists into the mix. The choice of brush depends on your curl type. For 4a through 4c hair, go with a paddle brush, but if you’re dealing with 3c and below, a large round brush is the way to go. Don’t overdo the product – less is more for a lightweight silk press. But, remember, a heat protectant is a must; it shields your hair from the heat tools. Also, a spritz of a light hydrating mist adds natural shine and hydration without weighing your hair down.

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Now, it’s time to get to the real “press” part, where you or your stylist take your well-prepared, healthy, hydrated, and heat-protected hair to the next level. According to Zemura, she recommends using flat irons with titanium plates for this step. The reason? Titanium plates distribute heat much more evenly compared to ceramic or other types of flat irons.

But here’s the kicker: What truly sets apart a fantastic silk press from a mediocre one, and what you should expect from your stylist, is how your hair feels afterward. As Zemura puts it, your hair should be full of life and movement. A great silk press shouldn’t leave your hair feeling stiff or unnatural!

How Do You Maintain a Silk Press?

Zemura says if you take care of your silk press, it can last two to three weeks. You must consider the weather. As Zemura wisely puts it, it all boils down to your lifestyle and the climate you’re in. She strongly advises against getting a silk press when the humidity level is above 25% because, well, it might just be a waste of your time and money.

Now, to make that silk press last, you’ve got to be cautious about water. Zemura’s got some tips: wrap your hair at night, rock a shower cap, and definitely no swimming if you want to preserve that sleek look! Of course, keep in mind that washing your hair will bid adieu to your silk press style. But here’s a little nugget of wisdom from Zemura – “you receive a good wash before your silk press,” and she notes that 4a through 4c curl types are less likely to get oily compared to 3c and below. So, plan your wash days accordingly to keep that silk press shining.

Silk Press Hair Tips

Now, there are more than just these pearls of knowledge that you ought to bear in mind when wearing a silk press or even before making the decision to do so. And when you sit in the stylist’s chair, consider how you’re taking care of your hair if you want a silk press that is so beautifully shining it may attract the attention of a satellite. As Zemura puts it, the ultimate secret to that beautiful shine is having healthy and well-hydrated hair. So, before you even think about a silk press, make sure your hair is in tip-top shape.

Also, here’s a little tidbit: your hair needs to be “double the width of the flat iron” in length to pull off a silk press, according to Zemura. This becomes essential if you plan on doing touch-ups on your own later down the line. If you feel like your silk press needs a little sprucing up after about a week or so, you can gently press your hair on low heat, but don’t forget that heat protectant!

But perhaps the most crucial piece of advice to stash in your memory bank is this: “A silk press is something to do once in a while to switch up your style,” as wisely put by Zemura. It’s not meant to be a bi-weekly salon appointment – that’s where the potential for damage creeps in. So, enjoy the fabulous look, but do it in moderation to keep your locks healthy and happy.

1. What Is A Silk Press?

Think of the silk press technique as a kind of magical transformation for curly or textured hair. It’s like giving your hair the full spa treatment – we’re talking shampoo, blow-dry, and then the flat-iron finale. The real magic happens when that flat iron touches your hair after the blow-drying; it’s like a silky makeover for your locks. That’s why they call it a silk press – because your hair ends up feeling as soft as, you guessed it, silk!

2. Start In The Back

John has a little trick under his sleeve when it comes to flat-ironing hair. He like getting things going from the back and moving forward gradually. You see, while it might seem sensible to begin at the top, the reality is quite different.  John’s wisdom is this: all that freshly pressed hair should stick together, instead of being clipped out of the way while you’re working on the blown-out sections.

3. Work In Small Sections

When you’re flat-ironing textured hair, here’s the golden rule: go for smaller sections, and base it on the thickness of your hair. This way, you can make sure that every bit of that section gets the royal treatment, from the roots right down to the tips. Taking on larger chunks of hair might seem tempting, but it’s a recipe for trouble. You’ll end up with uneven results in the straightening process, and it can even mess with how the heat spreads when you’re using the flat iron. So, keep it small and precise for that sleek finish.

4. Hydration Is Key

If you’re longing for that secret to achieving ultra-smooth, silky results with your flatiron, well, it all comes down to one word: moisture. And actually, let’s make it three: moisture, moisture, and even more moisture. John, the expert, swears by a selection of hydrating shampoos, like Pureology Hydrate Shampoo and Framesi Color Lover Moisture Rich Shampoo. When it comes to conditioner, he’s got his top picks too – Joico Moisture Recovery Conditioner and Framesi Color Lover Moisture Rich Masque. To safeguard your hair from any unwanted heat damage, he recommends using Alterna Haircare Caviar Anti-Aging Restructuring Bond Repair Leave-In Heat Protection Spray.

Now, here’s where John gets really crafty – he’s what you might call a “back bar cocktail stylist.” Why does that matter? He is aware that what happens in the shampoo bowl is largely responsible for the shine and smoothness you ultimately achieve. Additionally, it is not just about the items but also the technique. And to seal the deal (pun intended), John relies on his trusty CROC The New Classic Infrared Flat Iron. Why? Because not all flat irons are created equal. Your choice of tool can make all the difference and ensure consistent and fabulous results.

5. Avoiding Heat Damage?

Nothing is more demoralising for those of us with curly hair than experiencing heat damage that leaves our hair feeling lifeless and fragile. You see, heat may really cause problems, especially if it isn’t handled properly. And that’s where professionals like myself can help. As someone who specializes in dealing with different hair textures, I can assess your unique hair situation – your curl pattern, texture type, and how porous your hair is. This helps me figure out precisely what your hair needs, whether it’s lacking in protein or crying out for some extra moisture.

The good news is that when it comes to heat damage, it’s not an unbeatable foe. With the right knowledge of products and proper techniques, we can keep heat damage in check and ensure your hair stays healthy and vibrant. It’s all about experience and understanding what your hair truly craves.

6. Unprocessed Vs. Chemically Processed Hair

When it comes to dealing with relaxed or color-treated hair, things can get a tad tricky. You see, both of these processes involve messing with the very structure of your hair by rearranging its chemical bonds. As a result, they both demand different levels of moisture and protein to strike the right balance, especially since chemically treated hair tends to be more fragile.

The twist is that even hair that hasn’t been chemically altered presents its own set of difficulties. Therefore, adding a chemical treatment to the mix is like to adding a new level of complexity. It’s similar to facing two challenges at once: one posed by your hair’s natural state and the other by the chemical treatment it received.

7. How Long Does It Last?

If you’ve got a curly-haired client who’s gone all in for that silky-smooth silk press, there are a few rules to follow for making it last. First off, they’ve got to be vigilant about keeping direct moisture at bay. That means no rain dances or steamy showers for a while!

At bedtime, it’s all about the wrap game. They should gently brush their hair in a circular motion to maintain that straight goodness and then tie it all up with a silk scarf. It’s like tucking your hair in for the night – cozy and straight.

Now, if their hair feels a bit parched, a touch of natural oil can be a lifesaver. Just a little bit when needed, and their hair will thank them for it.

But here’s the thing, to keep that silk press looking sleek and fresh, it’s a good idea to schedule follow-up appointments. For some, every two weeks or monthly visits might do the trick, especially if they’re all about that straight hair life. But for those who don’t want to kiss their natural curls goodbye, coming in quarterly for trims can help them keep the best of both worlds.


  • A silk press is a temporary hairstyling technique that transforms naturally curly hair into a sleek, shiny, and silky look using a flat iron.
  • The term “silk press” was coined to highlight the smooth and silky texture achieved through this process.
  • Silk pressing is a heat-based method that does not involve permanent straightening treatments like relaxers.
  • The process involves four major steps: deep cleansing, deep conditioning, blow-drying, and styling with heat tools.
  • The choice of brush during the styling phase depends on the hair’s curl type, with paddle brushes for tighter curls and large round brushes for looser curls.
  • Titanium-plated flat irons are recommended for a more even heat distribution during the pressing phase.
  • Properly done silk presses leave hair with natural movement and should not make it feel stiff or unnatural.
  • A well-maintained silk press can last up to two to three weeks, depending on factors like climate and lifestyle.
  • High humidity levels can affect the longevity of a silk press, so it’s best to avoid it in humid conditions.
  • To maintain a silk press, it’s crucial to protect hair from water, which can cause it to revert to its natural state.


A silk press is a popular hairstyling technique that temporarily transforms curly or textured hair into a sleek, shiny, and silky look using a flat iron. This process involves four major steps: deep cleansing, deep conditioning, blow-drying, and styling with heat tools. The choice of brushes and products depends on the hair’s curl type. Titanium-plated flat irons are recommended for even heat distribution during the pressing phase. A well-executed silk press should leave hair with natural movement and not feel stiff. Maintaining a silk press involves avoiding moisture, wrapping hair at night, and scheduling follow-up appointments for touch-ups.


Is a silk press a permanent straightening method?

No, a silk press is a temporary styling technique that does not permanently straighten hair.

How long does a silk press last?

A silk press can last up to two to three weeks with proper maintenance.

Can I do a silk press at home?

Yes, it’s possible to achieve a silk press at home with the right tools and techniques, but many people prefer professional stylists for best results.

What type of flat iron is best for a silk press?

Flat irons with titanium plates are recommended for even heat distribution and better results.

How can I protect my silk press from humidity?

It’s best to avoid getting a silk press in high humidity conditions to maintain its longevity.

Can I touch up my silk press at home?

You can touch up your silk press at home with a flat iron on low heat, but be sure to use a heat protectant.

Is deep conditioning important for a silk press?

Yes, deep conditioning is crucial to add moisture and achieve a shiny finish in a silk press.

What brushes are suitable for different curl types?

Paddle brushes work well for tighter curls (4a-4c), while large round brushes are better for looser curls (3c and below).

How do I maintain my silk press at night?

To maintain your silk press at night, wrap your hair and use a silk scarf to protect it while sleeping.

How often should I get a silk press?

A silk press is best done occasionally to avoid potential damage, and the frequency can vary depending on personal preference and hair type.