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Finally, Good Japanese Hair Straightening In San Diego

Japanese Hair Straightening in San Diego

Imagine never having to blow dry or flat iron your hair again EVER. This is my reality thanks to Japanese hair straightening. I’ve been liberated from styling products and devices by doing it twice a year for 9+ years. It’s a technique I discovered while living in Hong Kong, because believe it or not, quite a few Asian women chemically straighten their hair.

Finding Japanese hair straightening in San Diego is a challenge and, to be honest, I hadn’t been able to find someone to get it as pin straight as my Hong Kong salon (Private i, located in the Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong). But, FINALLY, I have a go-to person after six years of misses.

Salons In San Diego That Offer Japanese Hair Straightening

After two very expensive, but just OK, attempts at my prior local salon (with gratuity, it was around $600-650), I turned to the internet for help. Let me just clarify that I am not price sensitive for a job well done. I felt the quote I received from Diesel Salon in La Jolla was too steep given that I wasn’t sure they’d do a good job. I can’t explain it, but I just didn’t hang up with a good feeling though I know plenty of people that go there.

Moda Salon, near Mitsuwa Marketplace, told me to come in for a hair consultation with no appointment necessary. I decided to stop in, but they were closed. It turns out they are closed on certain Mondays and failed to mention that, nor is there any mention of this online. That made me mad enough to strike them off the list because my time is valuable. However, I know a lot of people who love this salon.

I turned to another salon called Hair Delight in Clairemont. The fact that they could fit me in quickly combined with a promotional price of $350 sold me. A stylist with rave reviews on Yelp named Lana used to do Japanese hair straightening there, but I am not sure where she went.

Hair Delight Salon isn’t fancy, but the only thing I care about is straight hair. I am not sure if it is family-run but it sort of feels that way based on the seemingly tight-knit relationships I observed between hair stylists and their clients. Don was the poor soul tasked with taming my unruly mane. 100% of hair stylists underestimate the time it takes to cut, blow dry or straighten my hair. Don used the Yuko system and took almost 6 hours the two times I had him do it. It fell out the second time, so I needed to move on.

(To be honest, in my discovery process I found it extremely difficult to get any stylist to explain the pros and cons of iStraight versus Yuko system or other systems.)

Finally, Good Japanese Hair Straightening in San Diego

I stumbled upon Montblanc Hair Field based on the recommendation of Yelp, something I never ever do. But the reviews, in this case, did not steer me wrong.  Disclaimer: I’m a half-Japanese person who has lived in Asia. I knew as soon as the Japanese receptionist answered in that kind tone I’m used to, I knew this was going to be a win. Asian salons like this tend to focus on small details like drying my ears thoroughly and a little bit of acupressure here and there. Not a drop of water hit my clothes… things like this. Plus, I loved the contemporary, zen decor and even the sencha green tea. This place is professional, not the type where people chit chat excessively. Not a towel was out of place.

My stylist, Masa, owns the salon and was the one to straighten my hair. He left a salon in Costa Mesa to study the latest hair trends in Japan before opening Montblanc Hair Field in 2012.

After asking what kind of system they use, I was simply told that it was Japanese without any other details. It’s not Yuko or a big-named brand. It’s Japanese, from Japan. The reason why this oddly put me at ease is that my stylist at Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong used to say the exact same thing. Trust me, I asked during booking and tried to get the details from Masa. It’s from Japan, already!

My hair is very thick and I have a lot of it so Japanese hair straightening takes much longer on me than others. That being said, considering that I also received a very good haircut, the fact that Masa took four hours was a welcome relief.

The process was a little bit different than what I was used to. My hair was examined and washed (with a short head massage, always a nice bonus). Next, they usually blow dry it (a step that takes forever with my hair) before applying a solution to each hair that sits for about 30 minutes. The solution was applied to my wet hair and I wasn’t put under a dryer as I have been in the past. Next, it was washed out, blow-dried and flat-ironed. The neutralizing solution was applied and washed out. Masa cut my hair and dried it to make sure the strands were lines up correctly.

One thing to note is that he only touched up my wavy roots (I had a least 6 inches worth) because after a very thorough examination of my hair, he thought using the straightening solution on all of it would actually cause a reverse effect of more waves. The ends of my hair are actually a little bit wavy, but not nearly as crazy as they are normally. Unlike Brazilian keratin treatments, once a strand of hair has experienced Japanese hair straightening, it stays straight. Like highlights, you just touch up the roots. So, it’s possible that after five years of crappy Japanese hair straightening that my hair was damaged and not taking to it well which is why my ends were wavy. I listened to him and since the part he touched up is extremely straight, I have high hopes that as my hair grows out I can achieve the pin-straight look I like.

An easy experience? Yes, actually. I was charged $299 including the haircut, which is a very good price, though the website states that I probably should have been charged $309. I’ve paid double this in La Jolla for inferior service.

Caring For Japanese Hair Straightening

In Hong Kong, no one gave me care instructions. I even used Finesse shampoo and conditioner which probably is chock-full of chemicals and managed to maintain perfect hair. I am not sure if it’s the Yuko system or not, but Don at Hair Delight suggests using paraben-free shampoo and conditioner for chemically treated or colored hair, which makes perfect sense. I think the salon in La Jolla I used to go to recommended sulphate-free.

I have tried a few versions of organic, fair trade shampoos and conditioners from Whole Foods and they don’t carry enough moisture. You’ll wreck your expensive hair by using products like this even if they are paraben-free or meant for dry or chemically-treated hair. If you have a product you like, please share it in the comments.

Masa at Montblanc Hair Field said it doesn’t matter what kind of shampoo I use… another sign that this technique is closer to what I’m used to in Hong Kong. Just to be sure (after prodding him for details… I think he really meant that I could use whatever shampoo I wanted), I bought some Japanese shampoo and conditioner that he said would work well for my dry scalp and newly-straightened hair. Since then, I’ve used hotel shampoo several times and it’s had zero impact. I like the Japanese shampoo but am convinced that I can used whatever shampoo I want (though I don’t dare).

The Bottom Line

I’m very pleased with my Montblanc Hair Field Japanese hair straightening experience and hope that you will be, too.

Where do you go in San Diego for Japanese hair straightening? What products do you use to maintain it? I’d love to know.

22 Comments
  • Jackie - July 10, 2015

    are you still happy with your hair after Montlblanc?

  • Natalie Duley - June 20, 2015

    Im so glad I stumbled across your blog, my heart is in travelling and i adore watching you both venture. As for the Japanese hair straightening couldn’t agree more, get mine done once a year here in Auckland. Gives me so much freedom and confidence knowing i don’t have to wake up an hour early to date my GHD! xx

  • Maria - March 14, 2015

    Hi! I am considering having this done for the first time EVER. I am pretty excited! I was wondering will my hair still hold a curl, from a curling iron, after having the Japanese hair straightening treatment? Majority of the time I prefer to wear my hair straight; however, I still like to mix it up and use a curling iron every once in a while. Thanks in advance for your help!

  • Lia - March 8, 2015

    I had my hair straightening done when I was in Singapore. I loved it. But now, my hair grew 7 inches and I can see the wavy hair. I am due for straightening. I have not found any salon in San Diego that satisfies me. Would you recommend Yuko from Montblanc? I would love to try them rather than going back to Singapore just to get hair done.

    • La Jolla Mom - March 9, 2015

      I’ve been really happy with my hair since going to Montblanc. They don’t use the Yuko though. I also thought the price is right and have been able to use pretty much any shampoo. While I love Singapore, it’s definitely not worth a trip unless you’re going anyway!

  • Annie - February 17, 2015

    Yvette- it was around $300. Have you gotten it done there too?

  • yvette - February 14, 2015

    Annie how much did get charged at OK salon?

  • Annie - February 3, 2015

    I like Korean hair straightening better then Japanese hair straightening. I go to OK salon in Mira Mesa, and I am very pleased with my results! They do a follow up conditioning in about 6 months for me and its a mini straightening so in one year, I get the straightening in the beginning of the year and then the conditioning in the middle of the year and it last me one whole year. It’s not the stick straight type, it actually give you volume and you can also curl your hair still. Does not damage my hair like the Japanese straightening did. :)

    • yvette - February 13, 2015

      How much were u charged?

    • yvette - February 13, 2015

      How much were you charged?

  • Morgan Bui - February 3, 2015

    Try using Living Proof shampoo and conditioner. It's amazing. You can order directly on their website or it's now sold at Ulta and Sephora.

  • La Jolla Mom - February 3, 2015

    I just had it done at Montblanc Hair Field in Clairemont and am very pleased. It's much closer to what I had done in Hong Kong. It was $299 and included a haircut!

  • Dulce Estrella - January 15, 2015

    I'm looking for a place that does Japanese straightening in San Diego. I did it for 3 years in Japan and loved it. All you have to use is sulfate free shampoos and conditioners. I did Brazilian before moving to Japan and there's no way I would ever do Brazilian. Brazilian burned my hair and it was gummy, very expensive and had to use super expensive products Moraccon shampoo, conditioner and oil. Any advice where to go here? They should take more than 3 hrs. Either.

    • La Jolla Mom - January 16, 2015

      I’m about to try Moda in Clairemont. I’ve been putting it off forever and am long overdue. Will definitely update when it’s done in a few weeks!

  • Sparty - November 10, 2014

    I am also a veteran of Asian straightening (Korea, 10+ years ago) and have been unable to replicate the results upon moving to San Diego 3 years ago. Have you tried LA Koreatown salons?

  • Kelly Doyle - July 14, 2014

    Posting to include my email.

  • Tana - October 9, 2013

    If i’m not too worried about the “straightening effect” would you say the Brazilian one is much more “healthier” alternative compared to YUKO that uses more chemicals so it’s more damaging?

    Thank you

  • Mia - September 24, 2013

    Hi Katie, I love your blog! I really appreciate your reviews. You have great taste and standards, so I know when I read a review from La Jolla Mom, it’s something I definitely want to check out. I’m super picky about my hair as well and have only had the hair straightening treatments in Asia (they were great!) My hair is frizzy and wavy and I really don’t want it to get burned (which has happened) but I want it to last for longer than a month at the same time (doesn’t quite happen with the Keratin treatments, in my humble opinion). Just curious, how is your hair now? Did the treatment last? Have you gone back to Hair Delight? I would like to check out Hair Delight but was a little alarmed by all the negative yelp reviews. Based off of the picture though, your hair turned out great! Thanks in advance for your feedback. :-)

    • La Jolla Mom - September 25, 2013

      Hi Mia! My hair is hitting the point where it needs another straightening. It never got fully pin straight but I have a theory that it could be because we have a salt-based waters softener. I’m wondering if that’s why it’s still a little bit wavy after I get Japanese Hair Straightening. I will go back to Hair Delight because, in my case, the results are no different than the salon I paid almost 2x. Hair Delight did take much longer though, so there’s a trade-off. I’m optimistic though that it will take less time next time, now that they know how thick my hair is (I’ll go back in the next few weeks, hopefully and post an update). I, too, was nervous about the Yelp reviews.

      • Mia - November 13, 2013

        Thanks for the update, Katie! I am a huge fan and love reading your blog. I can’t wait to hear about your hair update. Have you gone back yet to get your hair straightened at Hair Delight? I still haven’t gone yet but with travel and holidays, I’m thinking it’s a good idea. (I hate traveling with a hair dryer/flat iron and spending hours on my hair.) I’m a little worried about the whole 2-3 days without washing it though (after it’s initially treated). Did you notice if your hair smelled burnt or like chemicals? Thanks again! And please do keep us posted more on your beauty regiments/products/things you try! :-)

        • La Jolla Mom - February 2, 2015

          I just updated this post to reflect my experience at Montblanc Hair Field. Loved it!

  • Mai Bateson - June 29, 2013

    Great find :) Thanks for sharing! I am an Asian girl that is so obsess in having my hair super straight (mine is a bit wavy). I’m currently here in the Philippines and it’s super cheap here. My worry is when I get to US (Beaumont, CA) and live with my hubby, I don’t know where to go in case it goes to being wavy again and this is a good start! Thanks for sharing.

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I'm Katie Dillon, a freelance luxury travel writer who lives in seaside La Jolla, CA. This is where I document my recent trips around the world, the latest San Diego happenings and other fun lifestyle topics. Thanks for stopping by!

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