How to get 'glass hair', summer's 'it' hairstyle

Rihanna and Zoe Saldana rocking the silk-press look. (Photos: Getty Images)

Glass hair has quickly become known as the “it” summer hairstyle, but according to celebrity hairstylist Cynthia Alvarez, who works with stars like Shakira and Dascha Polanco, the pin-straight style isn’t new at all — it’s just having a moment in the spotlight thanks to Kim Kardashian, Olivia Culpo, and Hailey Baldwin, getting the credit as trendsetters.

“The ‘glass hair’ trend is not new to the beauty industry,” she says. “It’s actually referred to as ‘silk press’ by beauty professionals and has been around for many years. I love that it’s having a moment right now because it’s a look that works on all hair types and textures.”

Alvarez explains that a silk press is a modern-day style that gives hair a straight look without actually being chemically-relaxed. “Instead of using a traditional hot comb to straighten natural hair, a silk press is achieved by using a flatiron,” she says. “Using a flatiron allows natural hair to be very straight, shiny, silky, soft, and most importantly, gives the hair tons of body and movement.”

Black and Latina women, including celebs like Rihanna, Zoe Saldana, and Alvarez’s own client, Polanco, have all sported the style throughout the years, and getting the look doesn’t necessarily require a trip to the salon.


Alvarez suggests starting by washing your hair with a clarifying shampoo and following that up with a moisturizing formula. “The clarifying shampoo removes dirt, oil, and product buildup and preps hair to receive a ton of moisture.” After a double shampoo, she says to treat your hair to a 15-minute intense moisture mask. “I like the Dove Anti-Frizz Oil Therapy Mask because it comes in individual one-time use packets,” she says.

Rinse the mask out, saturate your hair with a leave-in conditioner, followed by a generous amount of heat protectant.” The prep work is thorough, but that’s because a silk-press style is meant to last for a couple of weeks, so she says to make sure in this last step that products are evenly distributed from roots to ends.

The blowout

Once most of the prep work is done, it’s time for a meticulous blowout, says Alvarez. “Blow-dry in sections using a paddle or Denman brushand move from roots to ends in a fluid motion.” She says to always keep the brush in motion while the hot air is blasting to prevent heat damage. “Blow-dry hair until it is 100 percent dry. This is extremely important before moving on to the flatironing phase.”

The silk press

A quality flatiron is crucial if you want the best results, explains Alvarez. “I personally love to use BaByliss Pro titanium 1-inch flatiron because it heats up nicely and allows me to go through even the thickest, coarsest hair with just one pass.” She sets the iron at 400 degrees, which she notes is standard for natural hair, and works with small 1-inch sections. “Always use a heat protectant, and move the iron as close to your roots as possible for smoother, straighter results.”

Once you are finished flatironing your hair, a few drops of high-shine serum will seal the deal and accentuate the high-gloss look. Alvarez recommends Deeper Than Hair Glass Brilliant Shine serum for an ultrashiny finish and Kenra Shine Spray to protect against humidity and maintain the style.

Sleek and chic. Jourdan Dunn and Kerry Washington sport the silk-press look. (Photos: Getty Images)

Maintenance 

“Keep your hair wrapped whenever possible to prolong the life of your silk press,” she says. Using a silk or satin scarf to wrap the hair also helps shield your sleek style from wind and humidity.

Alvarez also recommends avoiding hot-styling tools at all costs — no matter how tempted you are to touch up your hair. “The overuse of hot tools will cause your hair to look dry and feel brittle. Instead, try to pin-curl your hair at night to maintain the body and bounce without the use of heat,” she explains. “If you insist on using a heating tool, use a heat protectant and keep the heat below 325 degrees.”

You should also steer clear of overdoing it with styling products, from dry shampoo to hairspray, if you want to make your style last. “The most important thing to remember is that a silk press will last you a few weeks with proper care,” she says. “However, your press cannot withstand the effects of humidity and high moisture. Your hair will start to revert back to its original texture under these conditions, so it’s best to avoid highly humid environments like the sauna or the beach when possible.”

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