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Hair

Silk press: everything you need to know about the non-chemical straightening treatment

March 13th 2020 / Jemma Thompson / 0 comment

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It's a salon treatment that turns even the most coarse afro hair silky smooth. We sent straightener addict Jemma Thompson to try it

After suffering a daily battle trying to control my 3a curl pattern hair, I recently discovered silk pressing. My interest was immediately piqued so I did some digging (I became VERY obsessed with before and after pictures of hair styled/pressed by expert @johnwgeorge).

To my sheer delight, I found Mimi Et Mina, a luxury boutique black hair salon in the heart of Notting Hill, London that offers silk presses. Founder and head stylist, Mimi Koné has styled hair for the likes of Lorraine Pascal, Sarah-Jane Crawford, and Imman Hammam so I knew my locks were in good hands.

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What is a silk press?

A silk press is a modern-day take on the press and curl (a ‘90s way to straighten afro hair that traditionally used lots of oil and heat). It gives natural hair the appearance of being relaxed and doesn't use harsh chemicals. It’s all about the technique, temperature and the products. It's ideal for those with coarse and/or thick hair. It’s been around for years but has recently become more popular for those who want to switch up their style without using a permanent treatment, allowing natural hair to be sleek, straight and full of movement.

Why I needed a silk press

Following years of hair damage from over-straightening, I was in desperate need of a big chop and some TLC. I explored my options; do I relax (chemically straighten) my hair? After one teenage experiment and years to grow it out, this was a definitive no. Perhaps try a Keratin treatment? Sounds great, but the chance of it ruining my curl pattern? Eeek… So, this left me with the easy choice of trying silk pressing.

How does a silk press work?

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Step 1: A thorough wash

Mimi explained the importance of thoroughly cleansing the hair to remove any build-up of previous product and residue, it’s essential for the hair to be squeaky clean to prevent any heat damage.

Step 2: Deep conditioning treatment

After washing, Mimi used a deep conditioning treatment, the Avlon Affirm Moisture Right Nourishing Conditioner, to add the moisture back into my locks. Not only did it help to nourish and strengthen my hair, it smelt like pure heaven - that unmistakable salon product scent. Formulated with a blend of Argan, pegui and buriti oils, this was the perfect remedy for hair than needed to be blasted with a dryer for 30 minutes.

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Step 3: Blow-dry

The crucial step for any impressive silk press lies with nailing your blow-dry and for this, heat protector is a must. Mimi applied the Redken Diamond Oil Style Enhancing Oil a protective oil that helps to speed up the drying process whilst adding shine. When your hair is blown dry to its full straight capacity, you require fewer strokes of your straighteners; meaning you're left with a smoother texture and less heat damage.

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Step 4: The straightening

This was the moment I was dreading, as Mimi parted my hair into small sections I thought I was going to be in the chair for a while. Eventually, I realised there was a method to the madness, slow and steady definitely wins the race. Mimi used Corioliss straighteners, which have titanium plates that are smoother than ceramic and result in less damage to the hair cuticle. It doesn’t have to be these specific ones, though.

She pressed my hair with a temperature of around 200 degrees celsius from root to tip section by section, this allowed the heat to be distributed evenly resulting in a smoother finish.

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How long does a silk press last?

Typically a silk press lasts for two to weeks - or for as long as you don't wash your hair. Having said that, the slightest drop of moisture in your hair and it can revert back to its natural texture. It’s essential you learn to love wearing a silk wrap to bed and become best friends with your brolly to ensure you keep the moisture away.

Who can have a silk press?

A silk press suits people with naturally thick or coarse hair.

How much does a silk press cost?

A silk press costs £80 at Mimi Et Mina.

MORE GLOSS: Real women on how they look after their curl type

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