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One of the beauties of textured hair is that it’s so versatile. You can have curls and waves one day and style it straight the next. And if you're looking to achieve a silk press all on your own, you want to be sure that you have the tools to maintain it.
In spite of what you might have heard, you can safely straighten your hair on occasion without kissing your precious curls goodbye forever. An appointment with your stylist is obviously the best way to go for a silk press that lasts (and doesn’t cause damage), but if you can’t get to the salon, we’ve got you covered. You'll want to use a variety of products in order to DIY a silk press that lasts well and doesn't cause damage. These include a quality deep conditioner, an anti-frizz serum, strengthening oil, and of course, the perfect iron for the job.
Best Shampoo: Mixed Chicks Gentle Clarifying Shampoo
According to Shonel, “A good clarifying shampoo is always needed when dealing with natural hair to open the hair cuticle and cleanse so that proper conditioning can occur.” He recommends this shampoo for its formula that fortifies as it cleanses. With silk amino acids, soy protein, and avocado oil, you can expect your hair to be primed and ready for a salon-quality silk press.
Your hair should never smell singed or burnt while styling. In order to prevent heat damage, avoid setting your iron over 400 degrees.
Best Pre-Shampoo: DreamGirls TLC Comb-Out Treatment
To reduce tangles and breakage, your routine should actually begin before you shampoo your hair, and this comb-out formula is a great place to start. It contains peppermint oil and other botanicals meant to nourish your hair as it creates slip for easily detangling. The results? Detangled, nourished strands that are much more manageable.
For maximum usage, add this product to a spray bottle and dilute with water according to your hair thickness.
Best Conditioner: Carol’s Daughter Monoi Repairing Conditioner
No matter the texture of your tresses, strength is the key to glass hair with body and shine. This conditioner is infused with pro-vitamin B5 and monoi oil meant to help restore damaged hair while strengthening it to protect it from future damage. This conditioner is especially effective for those that use heat often or have color-treated hair.
Best Deep Conditioner: Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Moist Deep Conditioner
There’s a reason why this drugstore deep conditioner continues to be a go-to across all hair types. According to the brand, It’s able to penetrate the hair cuticle in just three minutes, making it a prime choice for anyone seeking deeper hydration in a pinch. With a touch of Australian aloe, jojoba, and sea kelp, this product has the nutrients you need to help transform dry hair into silky blowout-ready strands.
Best Deep Conditioning Cap: Glow by Daye “Lilac” Conditioning Heat Cap
Before you put your hair through the tension and heat exposure of a silk press, you’ll want to make sure that it has all of the nutrients it needs to remain in good shape. This heat cap is a super-easy way to deep condition your hair without being restricted to a dryer. Simply pop it into the microwave and then go on about your day as the conditioner penetrates deep into the hair.
Best Detangling Brush: NaturAll Detangling Brush
Finger detangling might be a great method for rocking curly styles, but when you’re going for a sleek look, you want to make sure that no strand goes unsmoothed. This detangling brush is a great choice for gliding through kinks and curls while reducing shedding. You’ll also love that it has flexible bristles that help natural hair without the expensive price tag.
Best Leave-In Conditioner: Taliah Waajid Green Apple & Aloe Leave-In Conditioner
This leave-in conditioner is sulfate-free, versatile enough for both straight and curly styles, and an ideal product to keep handy for heat styling, according to Shonel Arez. For your silk presses, spray sparingly on wet hair to strengthen and fortify your strands to withstand the heat.
Best Heat Protectant: Design Essentials Silk Essentials Heat Protectant Strengthening Serum
Whether your hair is relaxed or natural, a quality heat protectant is non-negotiable for a proper blowout. According to the brand, the lightweight formula uses 17 amino acids and helps to eliminate static for a frizz-free, smooth look. With as little as 1 to 4 drops, depending on your hair length, you can expect a high gloss finish and flowing strands.
Since split ends are dry, brittle, and hard to manage, trimming your hair regularly will result in a sleeker look.
Best Serum: Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Anti-Frizz Serum
This effective, affordable product has been on my personal DIY silk press list for years now. Not only does it smell amazing, but it's great for application on both wet hair and on dry hair after straightening for added shine. It works to control frizz in even the most humid climates, making it ideal for long-lasting blowouts. I especially like to add a bit to my ends for a sleek, finished look.
Best Straightener: BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Ultra Thin Straightening Iron
This ultra-thin straightening iron has everything you need to reach each kink and curl. Its 5-inch extended plates allow you to cut down on your styling time, and it’s lightweight design allows you to reach the hair closest to the scalp, so you can straighten from roots to ends. You can also feel confident about the smooth titanium irons that deliver even heat to prevent damage.
For looser curls, this tool also comes in 2” plates to straighten even more hair at a time.
Best Blow Dryer: Revlon One-Step Paddle Dryer
Blow drying textured hair is usually a two-handed job (one on the dryer, and the other on your paddle brush), but this handy tool allows you to blow dry in one step. The flexible, tangle-free bristles cut down your drying time with ionic conditioning by distributing heat evenly for less frizz and more shine. You’ll also enjoy that it’s pretty lightweight, so you can skip the bicep workout.
Best Hair Oil: Mielle Organics Rosemary Mint Scalp & Hair Strengthening Oil
While you’ll want to use oil sparingly on your hair while it’s straight, it can still be a useful part of maintaining a silk press. The convenient dropper on this nutrient-rich product makes it easy to apply as little or as much as you need, delivering essential oils for both your hair and scalp. It’s also great for smoothing split ends, which is key to retaining length and a smooth look.
Best Styling Clips: Kristin Ess Do It All Sectioning Clips
When doing a silk press at home, parting your hair in sections to divide and conquer is the best way to go. These clips make it super easy. The jagged edges help hair to stay put without creasing, while the perforated surface allows hair to dry with the clips in.
Best Shower Cap: Kitsch Luxury Shower Cap
There’s nothing worse than spending time and energy on silky smooth hair, only to ruin it right away in the shower. To extend the length of your silk press, this luxe shower cap will keep moisture away. The elastic band accommodates most head sizes, and it’s a good fit whether you have plenty of hair or very little. Best of all, it’s cute! So you’ll actually enjoy wearing it.
What to Look For in Products For Silk Presses
Before hitting the heating tools to get those silky tresses, your hair should be as moisturized as possible. A deep conditioning treatment made for Black hair, especially one doubled up with a conditioning cap, is the simplest way to pack an extra dose of moisture into your hair as you prep for the press.
As mentioned, you'll want to use oil sparingly on ironed hair, but a strengthening oil is still a very helpful addition to your routine. As a bonus, many hair oils can also aid in hair growth, as well as help keep hair at its healthiest.
By using this serum during the styling process, and later if needed, you're taking a proactive step to prevent frizz before it happens. You'll likely need more of it, and more often, in wet and humid weather than in warmer, drier temps.
The Right Flat Iron
There are many flat irons made with natural hair in mind. This tool is the number one most important part of a blowout for a silky, shiny look, as it is its heat processing that temporarily changes your hair's texture. Byrdie writer Marriska Fernandes notes that "the best flat irons for natural hair reveal smooth, sleek hair without the need for excessive heat exposure and, in turn, damage."
Is silk press the same as flat iron?
A flat iron is a tool, whereas a silk press is a process. It involves starting with a clarifying wash, deep conditioning, drying, and then using a flat iron to achieve a silky look. At a salon, a trim may be involved as well.
How often should you get a silk press?
What is the difference between silk press and keratin treatment?
A keratin treatment is an entirely different process from a silk press. Where a silk press can be worn for up to a couple weeks, a keratin treatment is a chemical process that lasts for three to six months. It fully alters the structure of your hair on a much deeper level than a temporary press does.