Watching Joe Biden and Kamala Harris being sworn in as our new President and Vice President yesterday left us feeling hopeful for the first time in a long time. While we were glued to the words of each powerful speech and captivated by the moving performances, we couldn’t help but notice all of the beauty looks that attendees wore to commemorate the historic day. From Amanda Gorman’s Senegalese twists to Lady Gaga’s striking red lip, there was plenty of makeup and hair inspo to gush over. But there is one woman whose hair really got us talking: the one and only Michelle Obama.
What Is a Silk Press?
A silk press is styling technique that involves straightening coily and natural hair without using a relaxer, chemicals, or hair smoothers.
The former first lady graced the inauguration festivities with a bodacious and bouncy silk press—the process when a person's hair goes from a coily texture to a silky look without using chemicals—that was laid to perfection. And we’re not the only ones who think so. Millions of viewers loved Obama’s glossy side-parted blowout and caramel highlights so much that the word “laid” began trending on Twitter. With so much buzz surrounding her look, we wanted to know who was the master hairstylist behind the style. Our internet sleuthing led us to Yene Damtew, celebrity hairstylist, business coach, and owner of the Virginia-based Aesthetics Salon.
Naturally, Damtew’s social profiles have been flooded with questions and compliments about Obama’s hair. "Thank you for the kind words about Mrs. O's hair today. I am SO grateful," she wrote on Twitter. For inquiring minds, Damtew also posted a quick tutorial on Instagram to show how she achieves the perfect curl. But we were able to gain a little more insight into how the look came to be from Damtew herself. And surprisingly, it wasn't planned. "It wasn't something I dreamed up days in advance," she says. "It came to me when I saw the look Meredith Koop had pulled for her to wear."
In terms of tools and products, Damtew relied on several. "I started with creating curls with a one-inch barrel iron," she tells us. "Yes, you can achieve bigger curls with a smaller barrel! Next, we did a curl set to lock in the curls. Then I used a round brush to create body and 'soften' the curls. I finished it off with a feather comb for some volume and then hairspray so it would hold. This is definitely a look anyone can achieve at home with a little practice and patience."
If you want to recreate the look at home, you'll start by prepping your hair with a cleansing shampoo and hydrating conditioner. You'll then blow dry your strands and proceed to follow Damtew's tips above. The time it takes to complete the look from shampoo to press will vary depending on the length and thickness of your tresses. And the style will last you anywhere from a week to four weeks, depending on the condition of your hair.
While yesterday’s hair moment received massive attention, this isn’t actually isn’t the first time Damtew slayed Obama’s hair. She’s been a member of Obama's glam team for years, styling her two daughters and mother's hair as well. Moral of the story: we’re excited for Damtew and Obama to continue to work together because we know the duo's future hair looks will be just as iconic as this.