What is a Silk Press?

Silk Press Season… Yes!!!

As we approach the end of summer for women of color it has become known as “silk press season”.  The summer months can be pretty humid making it hard to maintain a silk press. But first let's shed some light on this service.

What is a “silk press”?  Simply put it is a new term on an age-old temporary styling service in which natural curly to coily hair is temporarily straightened with the use of hair straightening tool or pressing combs. These methods can be dated back to the early 1900’s  when Black American women felt the need to have more socially acceptable straighter hair or desired to have a sleeker appearance in style. These temporary styling services which contained no chemicals generally could last someone from shampoo to shampoo service. Because it doesn’t involve chemicals that make permanent changes in the hair structure.  Once moisture is introduced to the hair it will cause the cuticle to open and the natural curl pattern to return. This also became known as a press and curl service in the salon. The term silk press is a new age term as the straightening process has evolved from its former days from a grease laden service to bouncy, shiny, healthy, and silky hair.

Traditionally this service involved pressing combs and marcel irons which were revolutionary at their time and often still used in some salons. Although they offered women the ability to stretch and straighten the kinkiest hair it also involved high amounts of heat which if not monitored and done by a training professional would actually begin to scorch and singe the hair and lead to a slow breakdown of the hair structure creating damage from the excessive heat. In some instances people couldn’t measure the heat of these tools and only found out the temperatures were too hot once the hair was burnt off. Yikes… my grandmother called them pocket curls, it meant every time the hairdresser burnt a section of the hair she’d put it in her pocket to discard later, hoping the customer didn’t realize the hair was burnt.

The history of  hair has evolved a lot over the last 40 years. We were introduced to chemical forms of straightening the hair like relaxers that reduced the need for using so much heat on a regular basis. Not to demonize these services but if not done correctly could also lead to damage. Nearly 20 years ago the industry re-evolved in which consumers began to re-embrace their natural texture and relaxer services declined. It’s beautiful to see the uniqueness we all have in the form of curl patterns. No longer are women of diverse ethnic backgrounds and texture looking to straighten their hair to appear acceptable in society, but they are open to let their curls or coils do their own thing and embrace what's naturally unique to them.

For some straightening their hair is still their preferred style choice but without chemicals and harsh heat, women learned that excessive amounts of heat could cause the loss of curl patterns from a mechanical breakdown of the hair structure that would not allow curls to return after reintroducing moisture on their next shampoo which can limit versatility for women who like the best of both worlds.

Technology affects and enhances every industry. With advanced haircare and techniques the Silk Press service allowed for stylists to offer temporary straightening services with products that protect hair from heat, and techniques and tools like ceramic or titanium flat irons that offered more measurable amounts heat, typically limiting the heating element up to 450 F to avoid burning the hair. With traditional tools you had no way of truly knowing when they were too hot unless you had experience, but that left the customer taking a big risk of burning their hair when trying these styles at home and trust I've seen a lot of damage take place in the salon.

Our process, with SilkOut System allows for the hair condition to remain in integrity while giving the client the option to temporarily straighten and return to their curls when desired. We first cleanse and condition the hair with our Balance Wash and Conditioner, followed with our SilkOut Serum, a heat protectant that seals in moisture, helps block humidity on the outside,  and offers a natural shine with a non greasy finish. For added control of humidity our Silk and Seal styling spray adds another layer of protection against the elements to help preserve the service. Typically the service should last about 2 weeks or more, depending on the condition of the hair. The more often it is done the hair becomes conditioned and softened to be able to last. More virgin hair textures will require some deep conditioning with heat or steam to nourish and gently soften the hair so that the best results are achieved. We believe your hairstyle is only as good as the condition of the hair so we always recommend deep conditioning treatments before a silk press and as part of your regular hair care regimen. One would preserve their style by avoiding exposure to moisture like wearing a shower cap when bathing and wearing a scarf when working out to absorb the moisture from sweating.

A silk press is a great way to safely achieve straighter looks without a commitment and use of chemicals. As you embrace your texture, you also have the flexibility to choose whether you want to rock your curls today or opt for a straighter look next week. That’s the beauty of textured hair, the versatility and freedom of style choice.

1 comment

I love this article!!! It couldn’t have come at a more perfect time!! I am getting ready to do my first silk press on myself since going natural over 2 yrs ago. I blowdried and flat ironed my hair exactly a year ago and got some heat damage so I am really nervous, but I am praying that with the use of your products I will avoid any damage this time around. I watch Tammy you-tube videos all the time but I can’t find one of her doing a silk press step by step. I am excited! I just placed another order so I now have every product you offer. I would love to know if I should use your hair repair mask during my wash and condition of the silk press process. Thank you!!

Sonja Lyons September 16, 2021

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