After officially calling it quits with my love-hate relationship with relaxed hair, I longed for the days when I could run my fingers through my silky-soft hair. As much as I love having my hair blow-dried straight, it doesn't quite have the same effect. So, for the past few years, I've religiously been to the hairdressers to get the best of the best braids in London, if I do say so myself.
Thanks to the likes of TikTok, I gradually began to obsess over people with my 4c hair type getting silk presses. It offers the same kind of results a relaxer does, but it doesn't last as long and it's typically less harsh. (Don't forget you can still get heat damage, so try to use a heat protectant.)
Below, I explain everything you need to know about getting a silk press, from maintenance to a few of my favorite salons that offer silk presses.
What Is a Silk Press?
Silk presses have been around for years and are a present-day take on techniques like the hot comb, which was used on coarse hair types to create a smoother hair texture. If your mum or grandma has an Afro hair type and you've had the pleasure of delving into their childhood, you've probably been inundated with stories about their relatives using hot combs in their youth. (There's always a story or two about having to sit patiently while a hot comb is being used and how our generation has it easy.)
"A silk press is considered a safer and healthier alternative to other straightening methods, as they use heat rather than chemicals and are a temporary style rather than a permanent one," says Chie Sato, head of education at Taylor Taylor London.
How Much Does a Silk Press Cost?
The cost of a silk press really depends on how much the salon or stylist charges, as well as your geographic location, but you can typically expect to spend $50 or more.
What Happens During the Silk-Press Process?
There are several steps when getting a silk press. Firstly, your hair will be thoroughly washed by your stylist to make sure the hair is clean and free from any excess oiliness or product buildup. Next, if appropriate, a "conditioning treatment will be applied to the hair. This is usually to fortify the hair ahead of the heat application," says Afope Atoyebi, trichologist and research and development specialist at Ruka Hair.
One of the most important steps after the hair has been washed and before any heat is applied is the use of a heat protectant that sits as a protective barrier between the heat and your hair and seals in all the moisture. A heat protectant doesn't prevent heat damage, but it significantly reduces it. The hair is then blow-dried to stretch it out and then straightened to a silky-smooth finish.
How Do You Maintain a Silk Press?
Stylist Yasmin Berkman, who works for hair salon Muse of London and does around 10 silk presses a week, did my first-ever silk press and gave me some top tips on maintenance. "The best way to maintain it is to wrap it up in a silk scarf at night and avoid any moisture/water. Your silk press can last anywhere up to two to three weeks if properly maintained," she says.
There are of course other factors to note. "The dew points and humidity of the weather, how much you sweat/workout," says Atoyebi. "This leaves a wide range of possible experiences here, with certain people having it last for less than a day to a few weeks."