Try These 5 Tips for a Better Silk Press at Home

Healthy Hair
I began transitioning from relaxed to natural back in 2018.  Since then, I have yet to experience a proper silk press.  Sure, I often blow dry and flat iron my hair on wash day, but I don't utilize the guiding principles of a flawless silk press so my results often look nothing like the girls who have it professionally done.  Not long ago, I visited a few salons to gauge how much it would cost to straighten my hair.  They took one look at my texture, length, and thickness then quoted me outrageous prices.  I understand where they're coming from, I just don't want to spend that much money on a hairstyle...especially since I live in a high humidity environment where it's likely to rain at a moment's notice. 

Finally, I came to the conclusion that I'm going to finally learn the secrets of how to execute a decent silk press at home.  In order to do so, I had to learn the intimate details that stylists used to create their results.  


The road to a perfect silk press starts way before you break out the flat iron.  If you want to get real fancy, you might even start the preparation process on the wash day prior to your silk press wash.  Way before you even do a silk press it's a good idea to assess your hair's current condition to decide if it needs some sort of treatment.  Has your hair been feeling dry lately?  Have you been experiencing any breakage?  What about dryness or shedding?  These are the things we need to think about in order to determine if the timing of the silk press makes sense.  If your hair needs a little TLC, postpone the silk press until you've taken corrective action to strengthen your hair or infuse it with moisture.  I've made the mistake of going to the salon for a blowout because I was tired of dealing with it after months of neglect.  In the end, my hair was even more damaged than before I walked into the salon.

I don't want to make the same mistake again so this time I'm going to apply their techniques at home.  After studying the advice of various stylists, here are some tips I'm definitely using going forward.


I had absolutely no idea that I would need to use a shampoo and conditioner made especially for silk presses but I guess it makes sense.  My typical shampoo and conditioner aren't formulated to create the results I want to achieve.  Stylists try to get the hair as clean as possible so it's important to use a cleansing shampoo (like Nairobi's Detoxifying Shampoo) to remove buildup and will purify the hair. Once the hair is properly cleansed, we should follow it up with a conditioner formulated for silk presses.  What's the difference between your typical conditioner and one made for better silk presses?  Silk press conditioners are lighter weight. Some also contain ingredients that cut down drying time.   When your hair dries faster, that means you'll use less heat overall.   

After your hair is conditioned, now is the time to start thinking about heat protectants.  I made the mistake of waiting until the flat iron step to protect my hair from heat.  Now I know better so I'm going to get my hands on a couple heat-protecting leave-in conditioners.  I'll get a liquid leave-in that preps the hair prior to blow-drying and maybe a cream heat protectant for good measure. 


I've heard this tip a couple of times so I thought I'd pass it along. After you blow-dry, your hair follicles will start to absorb moisture from the air.  This happens to me all the time.  By the time, I'm done flat ironing the front of my hair the back has already started to swell up with moisture.  One solution to this problem is to hold off on flat ironing until the next day to give your hair strands the opportunity to naturally reabsorb some of the lost moisture.  Once you finally heat straighten, your hair will have higher moisture levels and won't be so desperate to soak up water particles from the surrounding air.  This should, in theory, lengthen the duration of your silk press.


I'm convinced that my silk press results are less than stellar because I haven't mastered how to blow dry it correctly.  Honestly, I don't give this step the time and attention it deserves.  One reason for this is because blow-drying takes so much time.    I'm thinking of grabbing one of these ionic hair dryers to help me out.  Years ago, I owned the Dyson dryer but returned it because it dried my hair too fast. Back then, my hair was relaxed so I felt like it stripped all the moisture from my hair.  I think my natural hair would handle the ionic technology a bit better so I'm willing to give these super-dryers another try.   

 If I wait till later in the day (or the next day) to flat iron, then I can allocate more time towards making sure my hair is smooth and tangle-free after I blow dry.   If I do the other steps correctly (remove buildup with detoxifying shampoo,  use a lightweight conditioner that cuts drying time and heat protecting leave-ins) then blow drying should be a much easier process. 
Less Heat/Fewer Passes (Tension/Chase Method)
Lastly, we let's talk about flat ironing.  Based on what I read, many stylists aren't that partial to a specific flat iron.  If all the other prior steps weren't done correctly, you might not get the results you were hoping for.  This is the step where you can use a thermal heat protectant like Chi Iron Guard.  I've seen a lot of stylists recommending Paul Mitchell's Hot of The Press spray.  I'm guessing that a spray heat protectant might create a lighter, bouncier result than a silicone-based serum.  If depending on the humidity levels you might need to use a silicone serum to ward off reversion.   

Instead of cranking up the temperature dial on your flat iron, focus on the proper technique.  Using a combination of the chase method (seen in the video below) and increased tension enhances your results.  Prior to researching for this article, I thought the answer to a better silk press was to increase the temp settings on my flat iron.  Now, my eyes are open to all the areas where I can improve without sacrificing the health of my hair and potentially risking heat damage.  

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