There's a slight chill in the air. The leaves are beginning to turn. Your suede jacket is out of storage. My coily-haired sistren know this means one thing — silk press season is upon us.
A styling technique that's been used since the 1890s, a silk press is a heat-based method of straightening hair that allows those with tight coils and curls to get silky, smooth lengths without chemical relaxers. "A silk press is typically used with a hot comb to straighten the root and a flat iron with product to create a silky finish," says celebrity hairstylist Sabrina Porsche.
When done right and taken care of properly, a silk press can last "about two weeks," says hairstylist Tippi Shorter. "How long it lasts depends on the weather, the client's hair, how often they straighten their hair..." says Shorter, noting the list goes on, and there are too many variables to give a precise answer. That being said, there's plenty you can do to help keep your silk press shiny, silky, and intact longer.
To keep your silk press looking its best for as long as possible, read the expert tips below.
Meet Our Expert
Sabrina Porsche is a celebrity hairstylist whose clients include Beyoncé and Jennifer Lopez.
Tippi Shorter is a hairstylist and the global artistic director at Mizani.
Todd Edwards is a hairstylist and Mizani artist based in Atlanta.
How to Protect a Silk Press From Rain
Moisture is the enemy of the silk press. That's because when humidity gets into the hair shaft and causes swelling, it leads to frizz. And if you get caught in the rain and end up with wet hair? You can kiss your silk press buh-bye.
So if you know rain is in the forecast, "wear a cap that protects hair from humidity," says Shorter. As for miracle-working elixirs? "There are great products that help fight the weather, but the weather always wins," says Edwards. One thing you can control is your shower temperature. "Stay away from hot showers," cautions Edwards, noting that the steam can compromise your silk press.
How to Workout With a Silk Press
Obviously, sweat is wet. So working out with a silk press can cause the hair to revert to its natural state. To prevent that, you must keep the hair flat and taut during exercise and leave it that way until it's fully dry. Porsche and Shorter recommend wrapping the hair with a scarf to keep the hair stretched even when wet. "I like to put a paper towel between my forehead and scarf to catch moisture," says Shorter. "By leaving it stretched until dry, the hair doesn't have the chance to revert," I recommend using Gym Wraps ($25), which are made from a sweat-wicking, quick-drying fabric.
How to Sleep With a Silk Press
To ensure you wake up with sleek strands, you're going to want to set your hair before you lay down on your pillow for the night. "Depending on the style that you have, you either want to wrap your hair for a more straight look or pin-curl your hair for a more curly look, then secure it with a silk or satin scarf," says Edwards.
Why You Should Avoid Touching Up With Heat
If you follow all of the above tips, you can get up to two weeks of wear out of your silk press without using any heat. "You should not use heat to touch up [as it can lead] to heat damage and breakage," says Shorter. If something goes awry and you're itching for a little heat, Edwards says to limit your touchups to once or twice during the life of your silk press, keeping the heat as low as possible and using a heat protectant.
And know that the more often you get a silk press, the better your hair will retain the style. "Getting silk press frequently helps with heat training your hair," says Shorter. "This leads to longer wear."
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