Want sleek, straight hair? Try a silk press

Silk press hair is the old-school straightening technique with a new-age following. We ask leading hair stylists their top tips for making the style last.

Silk press hair treatments have been around for decades as a chemical-free, fool-proof solution for achieving long-lasting, smooth, straight hair and now the technique is experiencing a resurgence. Although it is targeted for naturally curly and wavy hair, the treatment can smooth out and straighten any hair texture.

When permanent straightening solutions hit the market, silk press fell of the radar because it couldn’t achieve the same long-term results.

However, there’s been a shift in attitude as silk press hair causes far less heat damage and doesn’t use harsh chemicals in comparison to permanent straightening processes.

In addition to being far less damaging, a silk press does not change curl patterns and curls will return the next time hair is washed or gets wet.

What is involved with silk press hair?

According to Sydney hairstylist, colourist and Zemura Salon director, Chrissy Zemura, the process of a silk press can take about three hours.

“Silk press is a technique of pressing the hair to achieve a silky smooth finish,” she says.

“The first step is to thoroughly cleanse the hair of any build-up – this helps your style last longer.

“The hair is then deep conditioned, and a mask or conditioner is used to moisturise and hydrate the hair, followed by blow drying with a paddle brush to ensure smooth roots.”

The most crucial step then takes place, in which very small sections of the hair are straightened piece by piece so that every strand of hair is straight.

Some hairstylists use a comb through each section as they straighten but avoid going over the same section twice to prevent heat damage.

“Once the hair is completely ironed, it’s then wrapped with a silk scarf and the client is put under a hooded dryer on cool to set the hair for at least 15-20 minutes,” Chrissy says.

“After the process is complete, the hair can be styled as you please.”

How long does a silk press last?

“Silk press hair can last on clients for at least two weeks, but the longevity of the style comes down to lifestyle factors and how well you protect it,” Chrissy says.

Taking precautions such as wrapping your hair in a silk scarf at night and avoiding anything that will make your hair return to its natural texture, such as physical activity or steam, are ways you can extend the hairstyle.

How the silk press has adapted in modern times

Hair We Come Perth owner and hairstylist, Juliet Harwood, specialises in silk press hair treatments and says the process has changed over the years.

“Back in the day, an old-school silk press involved using a pressing comb along with heavy greases and oils to seal and protect the hair,” Juliet says.

“And while the hair was straight, it lacked bounce.

“Nowadays, much of the products and tools use modern technology to achieve silky smooth, bouncy hair.

“Targeted conditioners use smaller protein molecules designed to pass through the cuticle and penetrate to the cortex, while bond multipliers help with texture and elasticity.

“On top of that, the quality of flat irons and blow driers have also improved.”

Can the silk press technique be done at home?

As tempting as it is to follow a YouTube tutorial and hope for the best, Juliet advises against DIY silk press hair.

“For the best results and to maintain healthy hair, silk presses should be performed by a trained professional who understands your hair and its condition, knows how to optimise its health and how to minimise any damage to the hair during the service,” she says.

Written by Charlotte Brundrett.