Are you wondering about the best way to achieve smooth, flawless straight hair on even the curliest natural manes? Two of the most popular ways to accomplish this are using a flat iron or a silk press. They are both similar in terms of results and process, but the differences between silk press and flat iron are enough to make one better suited than the other for different situations.
A silk press is not a hair straightening product but a technique. Hair is smoothed into silky, straight strands using a flat iron and unique hair products.
You will need to use a smoothing shampoo and conditioner to prepare your hair for a silk press. Then you need to blow-dry the hair so it can be straightened. A glossing product is applied to fix the style and achieve the characteristic silk-like feeling of this hairstyle. And then, you will use a flat iron to straighten your hair and seal the gloss product in.
Think of it as an elevated form of flat iron straightening. Your hair will feel soft, conditioned, really smooth, and soft, all without using relaxers or other chemicals to straighten hair permanently. It's a premium service for naturally curly hair that keeps your hair healthy and looking naturally straight.
Most people will get a silk press at a salon specializing in afro and natural hair because it's a time-consuming process that requires specialist skills and practice. You can do a silk press at home, but it's something you will need to learn well for long-lasting results. Achieving that silk press Instagram-worthy hairstyle is quite a task of love, but the extra movement and the fact that your hair won't get damaged make it an excellent alternative to relaxers.
Think of it as a spa day for your hair, rather than just hairstyling. It's still heat styling and straightening, so it shouldn't be done too often, but it will not be as harsh on your hair as flat iron straightening at home.
A silk press is not permanent. If you want to straighten your hair permanently, you need a straight perm or relaxer to fix the bonds in your hair in their straight form. However, a silk press can last longer than your average flat ironing because of the additional moisturizing and conditioning process and the gloss treatment.
A silk press can last two or three weeks with proper care, but it depends on the weather and how long you can go without washing your hair. Over 25% humidity and your hair will go back to being frizzy or curly because water is just the worst enemy of any non-permanent straightening hair treatment.
If you wash your hair, your silk press will be gone, and your hair will be back to its natural state. So using a shower cap and avoiding swimming is part of the deal.
To get the most longevity out of your silk press, you need to be careful about two things:
Nothing will bring a silk press to an end as abruptly as a spring shower when you forgot your umbrella. If the weather forecast is wet, make sure you are prepared or opt for a different hairstyle. Cancel any pool party or similar event as well.
How do you take care of natural hair after a silk press? On a day-to-day basis, you should use a shower cap when showering, avoid washing your hair and sleep with your hair in a turban or silk wrap. This will also help prevent the hair from settling in strange bends and keep your silk press looking pristine for longer. Avoid touching your hair, as that will cause frizz, and the oils and moisture from your skin will make your hair lose that silky feeling.
After the first week, you can touch up your silk press using a flat iron on low heat and a good heat protectant spray, but only if you need it.
The best way to keep your hair straight and smooth after a silk press is to wrap your hair at night. This will prevent tangles, breakage, and hair bending and keep your hair healthy. If you turn and twist in your sleep, you will notice a considerable difference between investing in a silk hair wrap and using it at night.
At the very least, a silk pillowcase will let your hair glide instead of snagging and making it tangly, but a silk hair turban, satin scarf, or bonnet are just the best way to sleep with a silk press and wake up with smooth hair. This video shows how to take care of your silk press straight hair at night.
As with many other hairdressing services, a silk press cost varies depending on your stylist and location. However, expect to pay anywhere between $50 and $100 before tipping. However, it can be more expensive depending on your hair type. The reason is how long this type of styling can take.
To achieve a bouncy, smooth silk press, your stylist will need to detangle, wash, condition, and style your hair. Many people opt to add some extra premium hair treatments to their service, which increases both the duration and the costs. Avoid salons that offer a fixed price on the phone, as they may be inclined to sort your hair as quickly as possible even if your hair health suffers.
A good silk hair professional will be able to break down the costs and explain how long the appointment will take and what's included.
There are several differences between a silk press vs. flat iron, as they are two different styling choices to straighten naturally curly or coily hair.
A silk press is a salon treatment, a long process that most people reserve for a special occasion or when you have the time and budget to treat yourself. It looks great and can make your hair look better than naturally straight hair in bounce, gloss, and smoothness. It involves several steps and products and takes a few hours.
A flat iron is a tool you can use at home, and it's much cheaper to buy. If you are skilled with it, or your hair is not very curly, you can achieve nice and smooth temporary results. But even a great flat iron won't achieve the same level of straightening as a silk press. We recommend Remington flat irons because they are affordable, and you can even use wet2dry ones to save yourself the time and effort of blowing out your hair.
Anybody can use a flat iron to straighten their hair, but it's easy to damage your hair if you heat style it too often. Even if you always use heat protectants and high-quality products, the quality of your natural curl pattern can suffer. A silk press is better for hair health because the additional products and moisturizing treatments protect the hair and stop it from drying.
Go for it if you consider a silk press vs. flat iron and can afford both. A flat iron is great to have at home to style your straightened hair and remove any kinks or bends once your silk press starts fading.
Longevity is one of the critical factors in the silk press vs. flat iron debate, and the silk press wins.
Flat irons are great for temporarily straightening your hair, but the results will last about as long as a regular straight blow-dry, which is a day or two, maybe a week if you are religious about keeping humidity from your hair.
A silk press, with proper care, can last for up to a month. Of course, this only works if your hair type is coily or very curly, as most other hair types will need a wash earlier due to excess oils. But type 3 and especially type 4 hair don't need to wash their hair too often and can make the most of a silk press in terms of longevity.
Unless your hair is naturally straight, you can use a flat iron. Wavy and fine hair would use a flat iron with lower heat, whereas to straighten curly and coarse hair, you may need to invest in a flat iron that can achieve higher temperatures. Most flat irons need to be used on dry hair, so you will need to be able to blow dry your hair beforehand to straighten it afterward. But almost anybody can learn how to use a flat iron to straighten all hair types.
On the other hand, a silk press is wasted if you need to wash your hair every few days. They can be used on all hair types, but since a silk press will go away when you wash your hair, if you don't have type 3 or 4, the return on investment is unlikely to be worth it. If you have coarse or curly hair, a silk press is a fantastic alternative to relaxers and great if you aim to go natural but don't fancy a big cut to get rid of the relaxed ends.
A silk press is still heat styling, so it's less conditioning than a hair salon treatment for dry hair. But 80% of the process is about using smoothing and hydrating products to condition your hair and make it smooth and glossy, so chances are your natural hair will come out of the salon feeling great.
Compared with a relaxer, a silk press conditions and hydrates your hair. It can offer results as good as a keratin treatment minus the chemicals and toxic fumes.
Unlike relaxers and keratin treatments, the products used on a silk press are mainly hydrating and smoothing oil or water based products. Not a harsh chemical on sight!
Many stylists choose silicone free silk press products, as silicones can cause damage on natural hair due to build up. But if you are concerned you should always ask your stylist before you sit down at the salon and they will put your mind at ease.
Sadly, a badly executed silk press can affect your natural curl pattern which is a reason many naturals don't like this treatment. But the problem is not the silk press itself, or the heat. The problem is an overuse of heat and bad technique, which can damage your hair and flatten up your gorgeous natural curl pattern.
The best way to ensure a silk press doesn't interfere with your natural hair is choosing the right stylist, and keeping it as a treat, for a change. If you straighten your hair bi-weekly your curl pattern will most likely suffer. You can look at protective styles if you aren't keen on having curly hair or don't think an afro suits you. If you want your natural hair to grow, avoid regular heat styling at home with a flat iron, or at the salon.
A silk press is quite difficult to achieve at home, and you will need special products for silk press at home that may not be accessible if you aren't a beauty professional. Can it be done? Yes. But you may be better off getting it as a treat at the salon. But nothing stops you from trying, and if you use the right products and heat protectants your hair won't be worse for wear.
A silk press relies on clean, very clean hair. Start by washing with a clarifying shampoo to get rid of hair oils that can cause your silk press to feel heavy and greasy. Choose a clarifying shampoo designed for curly hair, so you don't dry your hair excessively. Double cleanse using a hydrating silicone free shampoo for smoother and moisturised hair.
After your hair is squeaky clean, you will need to apply a deep conditioning treatment to ensure your hair is as hydrated as it can be. Leave the conditioner for 15 or 20 minutes so it has time to deeply condition your strands.
Apply a hair oil to hydrate your hair, and then a heat protectant to keep your hair safe from heat damage. You will need to fully dry your hair, which means detangling and blowdrying it smooth. It won't yet be as smooth as after you are done with the silk press, but it should start looking straight. The base of a good silk press is a great bouncy blowdry. You want to achieve bouncy, straight hair with body, not just a bone straight blowout.
Avoid heavy products that will weight your hair down, you are looking for a bouncy, silky finish so choose lightweight heat protectant oils and anti-frizz products. Hydrating mists are your best friend here to achieve that elusive smooth but lightweight hair style.
At this point you can use a flat iron or a hot comb to straighten your hair to the silk press style, but not any flat iron will do. You need one that can straighten natural hair in one single pass to avoid damage. A cheap flat iron will snag and cause your hair to straighten unevenly, and you will need to do several passes to fix that and that is what causes heat damage.
Choose a flat iron with titanium plates, which distribute heat more evenly, and remember to use heat protectant on each strand of hair. If you intend to do a silk press at home frequently, investing in salon quality hair tools is totally worthwhile. This will give you that professional silk press hair, bouncy and with body but poker straight.
A silk press at home doesn't mean cheapening up, and you really should look for products that a hairdresser would use if you want to protect your hair and achieve the best results.
Silk press treatment products are heat protectant, hydrating and smoothing. A gloss that is designed to be sealed with a flat iron will give your hair that mirror like appearance. Naturally curly and coily hair is usually very fragile and can be very dry, so overuse of heat tools without the adequate products can and will cause split ends and frizz.
Whether you decide to do a silk press at home or go to a salon, there is something you can do to ensure the end result is as good as it can be. And that is taking good care of your hair beforehand.
If your hair is hydrated and healthy, the silk press will take less time and the end result will be even smoother and glossier. In some cases, your hair stylist may give you a trim before the service to ensure no split ends or scraggly hair ends spoil the end result.
If you know you are getting a silk press, make time in your diary for a hot oil treatment and some deep conditioning ahead of the appointment, and avoid heat styling if possible. This will get you the best results for your money.
If you are looking for long lasting results, a mirror like shine and hair that has body and bounce, nothing beats a silk press. Even the best flat iron will only give you a fraction of the results.
However, if you don't have the time, access to the right hairdressers, and don't mind styling your hair regularly, a flat iron is great. In fact if your hair is not very curly, a silk press is probably overkill and will not last enough before you need to wash your hair. So choose wisely... and always use a heat protectant!