Simply put, a silk press is a salon service where natural Afro-textured hair is straightened thoroughly, giving a straight, smooth finish. The service isn’t new by any means, but it’s a simple reinvention of the traditional press. Where an old-school press would be done with a hot comb and oil, today’s silk press is created with a hair dryer, a good straightener and humidity-blocking serums. “The key thing that sets it apart from other straightening services is that it doesn’t use any chemicals,” says hairstylist Lorraine Dublin, co-owner of My Hair Bar Salon. It’s my favourite service in-salon because it means I barely have to touch my hair for over a week. Absolute bliss.
In-salon, the service will start with a regular wash and blow-dry before your stylist moves on to the press part. If you have dry or weak hair, your stylist might suggest a moisturising or strengthening treatment while you’re at the backwash, a good idea pre-heat styling. Then, they’ll take your hair in small sections and straighten it, often using a fine-tooth comb to hold the hair taut for the sleekest finish. To seal your style, a shine spray or light oil will be applied. Usually, your stylist will use the straighteners at around 200-degree heat, which can be worrying for maintaining a healthy curl pattern. “Yes, silk presses can cause heat damage if you’re using the wrong hair products and tools,” warns Dublin, who advises booking in with a professional over doing it at home. “At home, you risk using the wrong heat settings on the straightener and doing it too often, which can change the pattern of your curls for good.”