If you have coily or natural hair and also like to wear it straight, you’ve probably spent lots of time and money trying styling methods in hopes that you won’t cause severe heat damage to your locks. One hair straightening technique that many StyleSeat Pros swear by is the silk press.

Unlike a relaxer, Keratin treatment, or Japanese hair straightening, a silk press doesn’t use chemicals to permanently or temporarily alter the texture of hair follicles. Instead, hairstylists use a series of hair tools and products to create a silky, shiny hairstyle.

Here is everything you need to know about a silk press, including how long it lasts and the products you need to maintain this technique, so everyone will be asking about your fabulous hairdo.

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A silk press is a heat styling method use to get straight hair. 

According to Houston-based Pro Kiwaina Bennett, a silk press is the process of transforming one’s natural texture to a smooth, “relaxed” look without chemicals. The “press” refers to the hot tools – typically a hot comb or flat iron – that are used to straighten hair and create that frizz-free finish.

Silk press expert and StyleSeat Brand Ambassador John George notes that frizzy hair is not exclusive to curly hair or Black hair. “All hair types can benefit from a good straightening. But a silk press benefits the curliest of hair types,” he explains. “The ability to have your Afro-textured hair silky straight without a chemical and without people knowing that your hair is naturally very curly is what separates a silk press from just straightening of the hair.”

The silk press technique can be used on all hair types — if it is done right.

Before your hairstylist reaches for any hair straightening tools, they should first shampoo and condition your strands. “I start off with a super hydrating shampoo and deep conditioner, followed by the blow-dry,” says Bennett. This ensures your hair is properly cleansed and infused with moisture to leave locks softer and tangle-free. She loves to use Olaplex products (the No. 3 Perfector is a must-have for curly and coarse hair textures), as well as, Color Wow Dream Coat Supernatural Spray as a heat protectant.

Incorporating conditioner into your natural hair care routine is important. 

Shana Marie Stewart, cosmetologist and owner of The Hair Whisperer Beauty Bar in Dallas, TX, also recommends following these initial steps. She suggests Pros incorporate hair products into their routine that “reduce brittleness, restore hair follicles, hydrate the hair, and deposit shine back into the hair.” Stewart’s go-tos include: Design Essentials Honey Crème Shampoo, Design Essentials Almond Butter Conditioner, and her signature Shana Marie Rosemary Hair Serum, which works as a heat protectant and gives hair a nice gloss.

The right hair dryer can make a huge difference with silk press hair.

While every Pro has their preferred hair dryer, the Dyson Supersonic holds up to the hype of cutting drying time in half, controlling heat flow to minimize damage, and offering a selection of styling attachments that make it physically easier to get the blowout job done on different hair types and textures. It’s definitely worth the investment!

Want your silk press to last longer? Here are some dos and don’ts.

A silk press can last two to three weeks, however, these StyleSeat Pro-approved tips will help your salon service last longer:

Do wrap your hair before bedtime with a silk or satin scarf. Caprice Jones of Salon Divas in Seattle, WA, says you can also sleep on top of a silk pillowcase to prevent breakage and retain hair moisture.

Don’t wet your hair. This is an absolute no-no, according to George, or you will revert strands back to their natural state. Bennett echoes this sentiment and urges Clients to avoid humidity by wearing a shower cap when showering or bathing. When exercising, be sure to properly secure strands away from hairline or nape of neck where sweat naturally accumulates.

Do use a hair polish or serum every two to three days. George recommends using just a few drops to reduce friction, which can cause split ends. “Avoid using anything that would weigh down hair or clog pores,” says Jones. “Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Serum is also good for taming flyaways.” If you wear hair extensions or a weave, SheaMoisture Tea Tree and Borage Seed Oil Wig and Weave Oil Shine Hair Spray is a lightweight, non-alcohol product that adds a “lustrous shine” without weighing down your locks.

Don’t use excessive heat or you can cause damage to hair. Jones suggests waiting one to two weeks after getting a silk press to do minimal touch-ups with a flat iron, if necessary.

Having the right products and tools at home are essential to maintaining a silk press.

All of our StyleSeat Pros mention a silk scarf/bonnet and pillowcase as must-haves, as well as, basic styling tools like a paddle brush. “The paddle brush helps with scalp stimulation and blood flow — both which are necessary foundations for healthy hair,” says George. “[It] helps to distribute natural scalp oils throughout the hair, which can cut down on friction and split ends.”

If you have shorter hair, Bennett tells Clients to use flexible curling rods or a comb and hair pins to curl strands into place and add a bit of volume.

When searching for a hairstylist who is a silk press expert, keep these things top of mind.

In addition to the hairstylists featured here, you can discover more hair professionals on StyleSeat that offer the silk press. Check out their profiles, read the reviews, and pore over the pictures (before-and-after photos are even better). If after reading the description of the service and you still have questions, Jones advises booking a consultation.

Don’t forget to check the pricing to make sure it is in your budget and schedule a consultation, says Stewart. “Ask any questions you may have pertaining to your hair and concerns,” she adds. “If your stylist can answer all questions without hesitation, this is how you will know you’ve found your new hairstylist.”

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