How to Get Through Silk Press Season Without Damaging Your Hair
The start of fall is an exciting time: the leaves change colors, PSL lattes return to Starbucks, and things get a little spooky. It’s a shift from all things hot, bright, and sunny to brisk, cozy, and moody. There’s a particular community though, for whom fall signals an entirely different type of shift. For many women with natural hair, once mid-September hits and the temperature drops below 60 degrees, it’s officially the start of silk press season.
The #silkpressseason has 20 million views on TikTok. The tag is filled with videos of women of color (mainly Black women) documenting their trips to the salon to get their hair silky straight. Yes, it’s about getting a new hairstyle for a new season, but for a lot of naturalistas a silk press is also a step in their hair-care routine: Many naturals get them one or two times a year, specifically to do a length check and get a trim.
It’s not exactly clear when it was decided that the fall and winter are the best time to press your hair bone straight, but the general logic here is that the lack of heat and humidity make it much easier for curly hair to stay straight after a silk press. Since a standard silk press costs around $150-$200 (at least in my personal, NYC-based experience), the girls want their money’s worth.
Let’s back up a bit: If you’re unfamiliar, a silk press is the process of flat ironing (or silking) natural hair to its straightest possible state. The dilemma here is that the process can be potentially damaging to hair given the amount of heat needed to get natural hair bone straight. Combine that with some harsh, dry, cold weather and you’ve got the potential to wreak some serious havoc on your hair.
So how do you join in on the silky fun, without frying your hair or leaving it vulnerable to harsh winter winds? Allure tapped five hair experts who, below, share their best tried and true tips for pressing even the coarsest hair types silky straight, without compromising health.
Meet The Experts:
How to Prep Your Hair for a Silk Press
All four stylists agree that the key to a healthy silk press actually starts before a flat iron goes anywhere near your head. “On shampoo days use a hydrating mask in lieu of conditioner,” Leigh Hardges, a licensed stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago with expertise in natural hair care and styling, tells Allure. “Masks are more concentrated and more dense in consistency so they really help hold moisture in the strands.” Making sure your hair is as moisturized as possible before getting a silk press ensures the hot tools being used don’t further dry out your hair. Most stylists will do a wash and condition during a silk press appointment, but feel free to request one if it’s not usually part of your service. It may cost a bit extra at some salons but your hair will thank you for it.