The 10 Best Flat Irons for Your Best Silk Press Yet

All of the style, none of the damage.

Carrole Sagba wears a gray oversized off shoulder pullover, pale gray suit pants with white feathers on one half leg, black and beige striped leather heels ankle boots, a white matte leather handbag, on April 18, 2021 in Paris, France.
(Image credit: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)

When shopping for the best products for natural hair, one often focuses on hair health, investing in the best shampoos and conditioners, leave-in conditioners, protein treatments, deep conditioners, and other options that prioritize moisture, strand strength, and hair growth. This especially applies to curls, coils, and kinks, which are often more delicate and prone to dryness than other hair types. But although fostering hair health from the inside out is paramount, it's also important for curl owners to invest in premium styling tools when stocking their beauty closets—particularly heat tools like flat irons, which are essential to achieving the perfect silk press.

"A silk press is a technique that is used to straighten a person’s natural hair," explains Mideyah Parker, a celebrity hairstylist and PATTERN Beauty ambassador. "The method involves using a blow dryer, flat iron, combs, brushes, and plastic wrap instead of using chemicals. However, some people like to use the technique with a relaxer for a silkier look."

However, as with all styling methods that involve heat, styling your hair in a silk press runs the risk of causing damage. Finding the right flat iron for natural hair—and employing it properly—is crucial to achieving a perfect silk press sans damage. Therefore, Parker has given us her ultimate guide to everything silk press, and to finding the right flat iron to achieve it.

Mastering the Silk Press

For starters, Parker says that it's important to follow a specific set of steps in order to master the silk press. 

"You must first shampoo your hair," she says, recommending PATTERN's cleansing shampoo for those in need of a clarifying rinse and its hydrating shampoo for those in need of extra moisture.  Then, she recommends following up with a medium or heavy conditioner. 

"Once the hair is shampooed and conditioned, you can section and detangle your hair," she says (this detangling nectar is her favorite). She advises, "I wouldn’t load it in like you would if you were doing a twist out—just use enough to be able to comb through your hair with ease."

Once the detangler has been evenly distributed, she recommends spraying hair with a heat protection spray and combing through again.

"Clip your hair into four sections," she suggests. "Comb through your first section with a wide tooth comb to make sure all the kinks are out. Next, you will decide which attachment you want to blow dry your hair with." If using a hair dryer made with natural hair in mind, such as PATTERN's, you may be able to choose between wide tooth comb attachments ("for a more airy blow dry," according to Parker), brush attachments ("if you want more of a bone straight finish"), or a diffuser. 

"Once all the hair is dried with the desired parting, I like to spray one pump of heat protection in my hand and then apply to the hair from bottom to top," says Parker. "You don’t want to over spray and weigh the hair down with product. I then like to use a ceramic flat iron to press from the roots to the ends. After all the hair is pressed, you will wrap all the hair in a clockwise circle pattern and secure with a sliver flat clip—make sure it’s not a duckbill clip, because that will leave an indentation in the hair. You will then take a roll of plastic wrap and wrap it around the hair to mold the hair to your head shape. Sit under the dryer for five minutes, then remove the plastic and comb your hair out into your desired style."

And voilà— your silk press is complete! 

Parker concludes that to maintain your silk press, you can wrap it in plastic wrap once again or pin curl it, then use a satin or silk hair wrap to protect the style and prevent breakage.

Finding the Right Flat Iron for a Silk Press

If, like me, you're wary of heat tools for fear of causing long-term damage, Parker reassures that there are measures you can take to ensure that your silk press technique doesn't ruin your crown of curls.

"To protect your hair doing a silk press you must always use heat protection and do a test strand in the back to determine your heat setting," she says. "Don’t just automatically turn the flat iron to the highest setting. Make sure you choose it based on how straight you want your hair." And for the sake of your strand strength, the lower the heat, the better!

And because you don't want to run your flat iron over your hair over and over again, it's important to invest in a high-quality flat iron that suits your hair type so that you can get the job done safely and effectively.

"For fine, thin, easy-to-curl hair, always look for a ceramic flat iron," says Parker. "It transmits heat through infrared technology and straightens from the inside out, which is more gentle, doesn’t pull or tug, and is less prone to heat damage."

On the other hand, she describes, "For thicker, courser hair, a titanium flat iron would be better because it discharges negative particles. This helps to seal the normal moisture in your hair, making it shinier and gets it smooth quicker."

Finally, she tells clients to ensure that their flat irons have a digital dial that controls its level of heat. "You want to be able to set your temperature instead of having a preset flat iron," she explains. 

The Best Flat Irons for a Silk Press

Meet the Expert

Mideyah Parker
Mideyah Parker

Mideyah Parker is a celebrity hairstylist who graduated from the Aveda Institute in Tallahassee, Florida. She has styled celebrities like Danielle Brooks, Dascha Polanco, Laila Odom, and more, and has worked with brands such as Tory Burch, Prada, Versace, Marc Jacobs, and others. She is currently based in New York City.

Gabrielle Ulubay
Beauty Writer

Gabrielle Ulubay is a Beauty Writer at Marie Claire. She has also written about sexual wellness, fashion, culture, and politics both at Marie Claire and for publications like The New York Times, Bustle, and HuffPost Personal. She has worked extensively in the e-commerce and sales spaces since 2020, including two years at Drizly, where she developed an expertise in finding the best, highest quality goods and experiences money can buy. As a film school graduate, she loves all things media and can be found making art when she's not busy writing.