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Silk Press 101: How to Straighten Your Natural Hair at Home Like a Pro

The popular hair straightening technique is easier than it seems.

August 14, 2023

When it comes to natural hairstyles, hairdos that once involved complicated processes (and the occasional extra hand from a friend or stylist) have now become handy DIY styles with the right process and tools. Hairstyles for coily and kinky hair like twist outs, knotless box braids, silk presses and other beloved natural hairstyles are no longer only reserved for salon visits. 


With silk presses in particular, you’re in luck because we’re breaking down the steps on how to get a silk press — as well as how to maintain one — below. If you’ve ever had issues straightening your hair sans chemicals and keeping it pin-straight and frizz-free, then this is the guide for you.

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What Is a Silk Press?

A silk press is a method of straightening natural curls without a chemical relaxer. Instead, this hairstyling technique uses a blow-dryer and flat iron to smooth out the hair. A silk press for natural hair is similar to the traditional hair straightening process of a “press and curl”. The difference is that you won’t need a painful hot comb or excessive hair grease that used to be the norm for that ‘90s hairstyle. 


Obtaining a silk press is all about applying less heat to your strands to give your mane more movement, a voluminous body and a shiny finish — without a weighed-down and stiff hair look. Widely used by those with natural coily and kinky hair, a silk press can also be used for those with thick hair or extremely curly hair that tends to frizz or re-curl when using a flat iron alone to straighten hair.

Is a Silk Press the Same as Flat Ironing?

Flat ironing is another name used to describe hair straightening since the heating tool that is being used in the process is a flat iron. Regular flat ironing is used for those with thinner and less kinky hair than those with coily textured hair. This is because straight hair types, wavy hair types and some loose curly hair types can be straightened with just a flat iron 


Meanwhile, thicker hair types like tight, curly and coily hair will need another heating step to flatten any curve in the hair. A flat iron is used in both straightening processes, however, a silk press will require other tools and dedicated hair products — as well as proper prep and care steps.

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How to Do a Silk Press At Home

We want you to have the silkiest straight hair process, so we’re going into detail about the proper silk press method below. Keep reading as we walk you through the steps on how to do a silk press like a pro.

1. Start With Clean Hair

Always start this style with freshly washed hair. You can kick things off with the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Moisture Push Shampoo and L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Moisture Seal Conditioner. Formulated with castor oil and hyaluronic acid, this duo deeply moisturizes and hydrates your hair to help reduce frizz while nourishing strands. 

It may seem like a good idea to keep the natural oils that are found on dirty hair to protect strands from the added heat, but this can actually cause more damage. When heat is applied to dirty hair all the oil, sweat and product buildup can coat strands leafing to dry, brittle hair. Instead, start with a clean foundation and then add hydrating products to be sealed into the hair.

2. Use a Leave-In Conditioner

Next, you want to boost your strands with moisture so your style can last. Reach for the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Non-Stop Dreamy Curls Leave-in Conditioner, which works to soften your hair and provide slip for a seamless detangling process. You’ll want to part your hair into multiple sections — if you have a lot of hair, create more sections — this will guarantee proper application so each strand is ready to be pressed. Keep in mind your hair should still be wet from your hair washing. Apply a small amount of product to each section to detangle strands and add moisture. Continue removing tangles so your mane is free of knots. Once complete, you’re ready for the next step.

3. Apply Heat Protectant

Per the American Association of Dermatology (AAD), the best way to limit heat damage is to limit using heat on your hair to once a week or less, and when you do, always use a heat protectant. Since this style requires the use of heat styling tools, you’ll want to protect your strands with a heat protectant. Reach for the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Weightless Blow Dry Primer, which helps to calm frizz, seal in shine and help protect your strands from heat damage up to 450 degrees.

4. Part Your Hair 

Depending on how much hair you have, you’ll want to create multiple sections before adding heat. Start by creating four even sections and securing each part with a hair clip or scrunchie — use something that won’t be painful to remove like a thin ponytail holder or rubber band. 

5. Blow Dry Your Hair

Use a hair dryer of your choosing, just make sure it has a concentrator nozzle. This blow dryer attachment will look like a skinny flat piece with an opening at the end. Dry your hair section by section using the blow dryer and attachment combo. Use a brush to guide the hair and comb it as you go, make sure to work from the roots to the ends. Repeat the process on each section of your hair until your mane is fully dry. When you're done your curls should be relaxed if not removed altogether. Don’t worry about any frizziness or puffiness of hair, this will be targeted in the next step. 

6. Prep Your Hair For Your Flat Iron

Just as you prepped your hair for blow-drying, you’ll need to do the same before you flat iron. Section your hair into multiple parts to make the straightening process easy for you. When your hair is in multiple parts, the straightening process is easier to distribute heat evenly through your hair. 

As an additional prep step, you can add another layer of heat protectant. Try a spray heat protectant as to not wet your hair too much, ruining the blow-dry process you just did. We recommend the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Heat Slayer Leave In which helps protect against heat damage up to 450 degrees while mitigating frizz and hydrating strands.

7. Press Your Hair

Starting as close to the root as possible, slowly flat iron your hair all the way to the ends to make each pass count. Repeat this on one-inch sections of hair, passing over each one with your flat iron until you have a silky-soft mane. Remember, too many passes on the same section of hair can cause heat damage, so take things slow for desired results and adjust your flat iron temperature to suit your hair texture and thickness.

8. Seal the Style

Once your mane is ironed to your desired effect, all you need is a touch of hairspray to lock it all in. Grab the L’Oréal Paris Elnett Satin Extra Strong Hold, Light Hairspray Unscented and mist the spray evenly over your hair and you’re done.

How Long Does a Silk Press Last?

How long your silk press lasts depends on how well you prepped your hair before you straightened it and, of course, how you maintain it. When done properly your press can last as long as your next wash day. Check out these tips on how to maintain your silk press to help your style go the distance. 

1. Cover Your Hair at Night

One of the easiest ways to keep your silk press intact is to pin-curl your hair at night to maintain a bouncy mane. Part your hair into sections that are about an inch in size. Take the end of one of the sections, tuck your hair around one of your fingers and roll up until you reach the roots. Secure it with a bobby pin and repeat until you have a mane full of pin curls. 

You can also wrap your hair by creating a side part, then brush your hair in a circular motion going clockwise, until it’s all up around your head, also securing it with bobby pins if needed. 

Whichever method you choose, you’ll want to cover your hair with a silk or satin scarf before going to bed. This will limit friction that can lead to frizz, hair clumping together which can create tangles and hot sweaty nights ruining your press.

2. Stay Away From Heat

While it may be tempting to apply more heat to your hair, avoid the temptation, as too much heat can offset your mane’s moisture levels and leave you with stiff strands. Remember, the AAD recommends limiting the amount of heat applied to your hair to reduce damage. 

3. Avoid Water

This may seem like a no-brainer but we are including it for extra emphasis. When you have a silk press, watch out for water, steam and sweat. These can all cause your smooth strands to revert back to their natural texture before you’re ready. Always check the weather before you leave to prepare for any rain that could ruin all your hard work. 

4. Give Your Styling Products a Break

There’s no need to apply additional hair products to your hair with your silk press. The goal is to keep your hair shiny and bouncy, and excess product can give your hair a weighed-down look and feel.

Next: 5 Low-Tension Natural Hairstyles to Try This Fall

Photo Credit: IG/@cbmsalonPhoto Design: Sarah Duvivier

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