Before You Silk Press Your 4C Hair, Here’s What You Need To Know

By Rogan Smith |
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This Bahamian Gyal blogger, Rogan Smith shows off a silk press on her natural 4c hair

Make no mistake, I love my natural 4c hair. I went natural in 2013 without so much as a backward glance at the relaxer aisle.

While I’ve had fun putting my hair in many versatile natural styles – braids, flat twists, pin-ups, crown braids, etc., every now and then, I miss having a sleek, straight bob – the kind that came very easily following a relaxer and a precise trim.

Of course, it doesn’t help that I spend entirely too much time on YouTube watching silk press videos of 4c hair being transformed. It is beyond satisfying.

Several years ago, I went to a Dominican salon in Nassau, Bahamas for the much-talked-about Brazilian blowout and silk press. The style was gorgeous. The damage, not so much.

Not only did my hair reek of smoke, but my once springy curls lost their bounce and hung pathetically on my shoulders. It was an absolute disaster. I swore then and there that I would never put such extreme heat on my hair. That was eight years ago.

I recently decided that I wanted a bob once again and wanted to give a silk press another try. For those of you unfamiliar with a silk press, it’s really just a modern-day version of the press and curl. The process may sound new, but it’s not.

The whole point of a silk press is to give your hair the appearance of being relaxed without actually having to permanently straighten your natural hair.

I went back to my salon, Studio Chique to get my hair straightened. I have been to them before and witnessed their process in straightening natural hair, so I trusted that I would not sustain any heat damage.

It also helps that the majority of their clients are naturals and they put a huge emphasis on haircare rather than just the style.

This Bahamian Gyal blogger, Rogan Smith shows off her natural 4c hair following a wash.
Here’s Rogan with her natural 4c hair following a wash.
This Bahamian Gyal lifestyle and beauty blogger, Rogan Smith shows off her 4c hair following a silk press.
This Bahamian Gyal lifestyle and beauty blogger, Rogan Smith shows off her 4c hair following a treatment, trim and silk press.

How To Prep For A Silk Press

The most important thing that I’ve learned is that before getting a silk press, you want to make sure that your hair is clean and properly moisturised.

In my case, I ensured that I treated my hair with a protein mask, first to help strengthen my hair. If your hair needs a moisture treatment, get that.

Next, you want to ensure that your hair stylist uses a heat protectant on your hair and is not using too much heat.

The last time I got that damaging silk press, I didn’t take note of whether the stylist was using a heat protectant or not. In fact, I kept my head in my magazine most of the time, which was a big no-no. You have to watch what the stylist is doing.

Then, you have to be vocal. If you feel like the stylist is applying too much heat, speak up.

Some stylists are not properly trained. They just know how to give a great hairstyle, but they don’t know about haircare. So, don’t be shy about speaking up. If the stylist gives you an attitude, politely refuse the service and leave. It’s not worth the damage.

I had to chop off several inches of my hair and start over following the heat damage I sustained at the Dominican salon. It was so bad. I don’t want you to go through the same thing.

How Long Does A Silk Press Last?

How long a silk press lasts really depends on two things: the texture of your hair and how you care for it after leaving the salon.

Naturally, there are certain things that are absolutely out of your control. If it rains, or if it’s humid, your hair may revert.

In my case, I hadn’t even stepped outside before my hair started reverting.

If you seek to moisturise your hair with any product that contains water, your curls will immediately return because the straightening process is not permanent.

I found that my hair had a silkier texture with the Dominican blowout and silk press, but that’s because they used extreme heat. They literally damaged my hair in favour of the look.

At Studio Chique, I noticed that my hair was not as silky, but then again, my hair was not damaged. And I was ok with that because – despite the name silk press – I just wanted my hair straightened.

My hairstylist was careful not to do too many flat iron passes on my hair because she didn’t want to damage my hair and I truly appreciated that.

To preserve the style, she immediately wrapped my hair.

Tag along with This Bahamian Gyal as she heads to the salon for a silk press.

Warnings About Silk Presses

Like most things, silk presses come with pros and cons. To maintain the health of your hair, stylists recommend not having a silk press for three to four months after your initial press. Heat can be very damaging, especially to 4c hair, which is already fragile.

Hair experts often note that 4c hair is predisposed to tangling more frequently than other hair types, making it very easy to break off.

Manage Your Expectations

I think disappointment sets in for a lot of people because they have the wrong expectations from the onset.

Depending on your hair type, your outcome may look different. People need to understand that 4c hair is not the same as 2c or 3a hair. So, after it is flat ironed, it may not look as silky as looser textured hair.

Also, your hairstyle may not last as long as it would on other hair types. No sooner had my stylist removed her flat iron that my hair started reverting to its curly/kinky texture.

Be sure to watch my YouTube video to see the process.

The famous Andre Walker hair typing system.

I hope that this blog has helped you to form your decision on whether or not to proceed with a silk press.

I have no regrets about my hairstyle. I wanted those badly damaged ends removed and I needed my hair to be treated.

After I got home, I removed my wrap and unveiled a full, healthy head of hair. My bob was fully of body, which is what I wanted.

It’s totally worth it to get a silk press. Just make sure you’re going to a professional who places hair health over style. Happy silk pressing!


This Bahamian Gyal

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