Silk presses - can hair be repaired?

Silk presses - can hair be repaired?

In this blog, we're talking about silk presses, heat damage, elasticity and touch a little on the protein-moisture balance topic. If you want to skip straight to the tips of repairing heat damage, scroll to the bottom where you'll see a list of key ideas. Goodluck curlfriend! 

Yes, silk presses might be pretty, they feel fabulous and how liberating they are, releasing all that extra pressure and heavyness your hair has on your scalp!

Have you considered how this process affects your hair on the inside? If you're reading this, something tells me that your silk press has gone a little wrong. Or maybe you've just straightened your hair one too many times, and you're now looking for a fix. Don't worry, we've all done it; I wouldn't be writing this if I haven't already dealt with this situation myself. 


About silk presses & heat damage

A silk press is the process of your naturally curly hair being shampooes, blown out dry and 'pressed' flat with a flat iron. The difference between that and normal straightening, is that at the salon, a comb is used along with the flat iron, to smooth out and control your hair, for better straightening results. And yes, you've guessed it right. It's called silk press because it looks (and feels a lot like) silk! Here's a picture below:

The Silk Press for natural hair "no heat damage" | Natural hair styles, Silk  press natural hair, Pressed natural hair

(no credits owned for the picture - see source).

The results are said to last for 1-2 weeks. Maintenance is required to upkeep the look, which involves not applying water on your hair as to not reverse the process. However, if you've got naturally curly hair and you had a silk press but your hair doesn't return to it's natural form when you wash it, well... it's because your hair is damaged. Silk presses, however well done, pose the risk of heat damage, especially if done frequently!

Heat damaged explain - the science of it all

Long story short, hair is made out of a strong protein called keratin. Heat damage happens when the protein bonds in your hair have been broken down by heat.

Read more about the effects of chemical hair straightening, here. Relevant read: Can chemical hair straightening cause cancer? 

Breaking down protein, means breaking the structure of your hair. If your hair is naturally curly and you have heat damaged it, it will now be straight, limp and brittle. (Read more, here).

If your hair is naturally straight, your hair will remain straight, but it might break off and it might develop rough or coarse areas of uneven waves and kinks - if you see this, your hair is quite severely damaged. Imagine when you burn plastic and it starts to wrinkle up and it hardens in place. Your hair might look a little like the 'before' picture here:

How to fix heat damaged hair?. Prevent Further Damage : It is… | by Power  Gummies | Medium

(see source).

Hair of any type when it's heat damaged, loses it's elasticity. You can do a quick elasticity test on your own hair by grabbing a few strands of hair in between your fingers. Gently tug on it; if it breaks, your hair is very damaged and needs some help. Tutorial here. See the test on bleached hair here where the hair snaps off. 

This may happen when you brush your hair as well, you may noticed little bits of hair just falling our or accumulating on your brush. If you perform this test and your hair goes back to normal, your elasticity is fine.

Can heat damage be reversed?

One thing is for sure: heat damaged can not be reversed. Once it's burnt, it's burnt, there's not magic fix.


Buttt that doesn't mean you can't change your hair's current state. Your hair will now need products with ingredients that are able to penetrate the hair shaft and rebuild the damaged protein structured, mainly keratin.

There are many ingredients that can help:

  • hydrolized proteins for example - these are easy to penetrate your hair shaft, and they can reinforce your hair's structure; these are things like keratin, wheat, protein or silk protein
  • amino acids like arginine, cysteine or glycerine; glycerine is the most common in curly hair products; these help build blocks of proteins and can help strengthen the hair by 'filling in gaps' in the damaged structure
  • ceramides - lipids that repaid the hair cuticle, improving strength and smoothness; they also lock in moisture and enhance to further damage (although please keep off of unecessary heat)

Protein treatments are amazing for heat damage because they contain a high concentration of protein, which your hair needs for strength.

Lastly, oils and butters that bring back moisture into your hair, such as argan, coconut, shea butter - not in raw form, but in products - think of deep conditioners and leave in creams here. These should also help with how your hair feels on the outside. 

Protein-moisture balance.

To note, it's important to keep a balance between protein and moisture, and not overdo it. Too much protein can also make your hair feel stiff and brittle and easily tangled. The treatments should be use as directed on the packaging. I would personally use protein treatments and moisturising treatments on separate weeks.


Key ideas to take from this:

  1. Any heat tools use will cause heat damage, the severity depending on it's use.

  2. Heat damage can not be reversed but your hair can be healed in time

  3. Protein treatments and moisturising deep conditioners will be your best bet (read full blog for the details).

  4. It's best to keep off of heat styling while you're repairing your hair

  5. If you use heat for drying your hair, make sure you always apply heat protectants

  6. Practice gentle washing, brushing and drying, to avoid hair breakage as much as you can

  7. EXTRA TIP: it's best to use gentle tools such as scrunchies, silk pillowcases and a good detangling brush to ease your hair and prevent any further damage. Friction damage from traditional hairbands, pillowcases and brushes can worsen your hair's state; it's already weakened from heat damage, you don't want to weaken it even more.


Contact us for any questions on the following, or feel free to leave a comment! Like I said, all of this is spoken from my own experience with heat damage (and from research, i'm no scientist) - and I truly hope it helps people in need. DM me here if you need product recommendations for any of the types of products mentioned above! :) 





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