What Is Japanese Hair Straightening?

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I went back to Japanese hair straightening because I’m leaving for a 3 week vacation that includes hot and humid Singapore.  My normal hair and humidity are the worst combination ever. I function and look better when it’s pin straight in this kind of environment. I had Japanese hair straightening for several years when living in Hong Kong (everyone does it there), but am not sure what system it was.

What is it:  Japanese hair straightening (thermal reconditioning) is permanent hair straightening.  That means once you straighten your hair, it’s straight. It will grow out and then you’ll touch up the roots. There is no need for hair dryers or flat irons. It’s low maintenance.  However, it will be pin straight which isn’t a look that everyone wants.  If you want to just tame your curls or add body, you should consider Brazilian keratin treatments instead.

Brazilian keratin versus Japanese hair straightening:  Brazilian keratin doesn’t gradually grow out like Japanese hair straightening. It will just completely wear off, which I found frustrating but keratin is MUCH better for your hair.  You can buy yourself a little more time with Japanese hair straightening, because your permanently straight ends will pull new growth flat. On the left, is a photo of my Japanese hair straightening after washing it for the first time.  On the right, is a photo of my Brazilian keratin (which I also loved) after washing it the first time. You can see the Brazilian keratin is a little wavier.  I air dried both times.

Methods:   There are several different methods that you see around the US.  Yuko is one of them.  I have not read or heard great things about it.  A few of the others have limited information online.  I wound up choosing iStraight.

iStraight:  It’s a method of thermal reconditioning that uses natural oils and is more conditioning.  I have had my hair fried by an inferior system, so this was important to me.  My hair is very shiny and healthy looking now.  The system comes in 3 different strengths so your stylist can mix them to match your hair, if need be.  If your hair is colored, you can also use this system.  With some permanent hair straightening, you have to pick color or straighten and can’t do both.

The days after:  You can not wash your hair for 72 hours.  I survived this with no problem and my hair didn’t look too greasy.  You can’t exercise either unless you’re convinced you won’t sweat, which brings moisture to your roots.  You can’t wear headbands, pony tails, put your hair behind your ear or even sunglasses on your head.  My stylist suggested that I wash my hair once after treatment before putting my hair up in a pony tail.

Maintenance:   No shampoo concerns with this treatment.  I read that the iStraight B3 Conditioner must be used to maintain your hair.  My stylist didn’t seem to think any special shampoos or conditioners were necessary. I’ve always used anything under the sun with no problems.  I have also written about how to take care of a Brazilian Keratin treatment.

Time and Cost:  I paid $500 plus tip the first few times (but have pretty thick hair). However, I have found a lovely Japanese salon called Montblanc Hair Field where I pay a little over $300 plus gratuity.

See also: Japanese Hair Straightening in San Diego

You need a consultation with a good stylist before you embark on Japanese hair straightening, because it isn’t for everyone.  Brazilian keratin might be a better choice for some.  So far, my hair has behaved in line with the treatments I received in Hong Kong.  I’m happy to answer any questions about it.

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  1. Jill
    May 29, 2018 at 9:40 am — Reply

    I have been getting my hair Japanese straightened for 10 years now .it’s awesome for a whole year I never have to use a hot iron it makes it silky smooth and the humidity in the summer doesn’t bother it at all and I live in New York City .the best place to go is SEI. They were the first ones to use Japanese hair straightening. They are experts. Once I went to a salon for a cheaper version. Ruined my hair.never again….

  2. Sunny321
    November 9, 2016 at 10:56 am — Reply

    Where in hong kong can I get it done? And what is it called?

  3. Eve
    September 22, 2016 at 4:31 am — Reply

    Can you use dry shampoo in the 72 hours after treatment? I am currently on day 2 and my hair is looking like an oil slick

  4. m
    March 16, 2016 at 3:00 am — Reply

    How do you sleep the first few nights after its straightened? If it kinks while you’re sleeping what do you do?

    • March 16, 2016 at 6:56 am — Reply

      I’ve never had a problem with it and I toss and turn. I was told to use a flat iron the next morning if it does happen to kink or get a little wavy from sleep.

  5. htimsadnerb
    September 28, 2015 at 8:35 am — Reply

    Get Karmin Cocoa Keratin 😉

  6. Emmaline Stellenberg
    January 26, 2015 at 11:51 am — Reply

    Is the Japanese straighteners available in South Africa?
    I am looking for a good hair product to import to Botswana or South Africa

    • Vivien
      June 21, 2017 at 11:39 am — Reply


      Can you get this Japanese Straightening done in South Africa?

  7. January 13, 2015 at 10:08 am — Reply

    As a stylist, I want you all to know about a completely new technology called #Olaplex. It does not fall into any category because it was not even been invented until mid 2014. What it does is to rebuild bonds in the internal structure of your hair. Bonds get broken every day but especially during chemical processes. Find someone who incorporates Olaplex into the thermal reconditioning service! An experienced straightening specialist and Olaplex are the best combination when getting your hair chemically straightened.If you hashtag #Olaplex, you will find it all over the internet. (it can also be used with keratin treatments although from a health stand point I personally don’t recommend keratin treatments.)

  8. Amanda
    December 6, 2014 at 10:42 am — Reply

    Hi, thank you for the info. I really like my Karmin and I have super curly, frizzy hair. My hair stays straight til my next wash with few touch ups. 🙂

  9. Elsa
    December 5, 2014 at 6:16 pm — Reply

    If you are going on holiday to Asia, then have it done there! It is way cheaper in Asia. I had one thermal reconditioning done in Singapore and it was about £90 british pounds with tips and free Joico shampoo & conditioner (so very roughly $140)! I used to pay £300-350 in London (about $500). It is even cheaper in Malaysia. If you go to Kuala Lumpur, you can get the Shisheido straightening in an actual Shisheido salon for £70 (about $110).
    I would love to know if it is good value in Japan too?

    I have had 7 Yuko treatments done over the years, 1 x tenso (L’Oreal) and one Shisheido.
    I would say that Yuko gave me the best results and my hair never felt fried up, it was always smooth. I would not recommend x tenso by L’Oreal. Shisheido was extremely decent but the strands that had been Yuko-ed and then Shisheido-ed were very dry after a few months. This never happened with Yuko. I have heard great things about Liscio (I noticed that they were popular in Italy) but have never had it.

    Some people have mentioned that Yuko gives very poker straight results, which is true, and this is why I love it! Yuko is now doing an anti-frizz straightening treatment that I believe would leave you some bounce.

    However, I style my hair a lot in a vintage 40s and 50s fashion and I think that my Yuko hair does keep the curls and styling very well. Sharp hair styles need a smooth base (and a lot of spray!).
    Hope this helps some decide what is best for them.

  10. Linsey W
    September 29, 2013 at 10:18 pm — Reply

    Hey I love this post comparing the two but I’m torn between the permanent japanese straightening or the keratin/brazilian. I’m half white, one quarter japanese, and one quarter chinese. I’ am worried the japanese straightening will be TOO harsh on my hair and fry it but I love the idea of my hair being permanently straight and I don’t want to spend a ton of money for a keratin treatment for it to wash out (I do however wash my hair every other day).
    My hair hair isn’t coarse, too frizzy or very thick it just has a slight wave to it other than that is on the straighter side. I do straighten my hair almost daily because I like the really naturally straight look. I can sometimes get away with straightening only the the lower two thirds so a permanent straightening wouldn’t look terrible growing out.

    What would you recommend?

  11. Chelsea
    August 18, 2013 at 2:17 am — Reply


    I am an expat living in Kunshan, China. My husband and I just moved here a week ago and I have always been interested in getting my hair permanently straitened. It is not naturally curly, it is just dull, thin, and a little frizzy. The humidity here doesn’t help…my hair is just a gross frizzy mess. I made an appointment at Hip Hair Culture in Shanghai. I just wanted to see if anyone has ever heard of this place. When I looked online it was ranked as one of the best in Shanghai but the guy I spoke with did not speak English that well. I guess I am nervous and looking to see what anyone’s thoughts are. I don’t want to do something impulsive and ruin my hair. It is on the thinner side…

    Any thoughts appreciated. Thank you.


    • Gal
      November 10, 2013 at 12:09 am — Reply

      hey Chelsea, i got an appointment fot the same thing in hip hair culture.. for tomorrow.. i’m nearvous as well! did it turn out ok? (: (:
      thnak you!

  12. Tatiana
    July 7, 2013 at 3:12 pm — Reply

    Hey, does japanese straightening help your hair to grow better and faster?

    • July 7, 2013 at 7:26 pm — Reply

      I actually don’t know the answer to that in a technical sense. However, my hair breaks less and I lose less of it because it’s easier to comb and shampoo. I don’t notice it growing faster though!

  13. Laura
    June 26, 2013 at 5:22 pm — Reply

    I am new to San Diego and would love to find someone to straighten my hair using the iStraight system as I have had amazing results with this in the past. Do you have any suggestions for salons and stylists with experience? Would you still recommend the Posh Salon in La Jolla? Any advice is much appreciated. Thanks!

  14. June 24, 2013 at 8:37 am — Reply

    I perform the Bio Ionic (Retex) thermal reconditioning in San Francisco. What my clients love about it is that it permanently straightens the hair but does not sacrifice the body. On top of that, their hair can still be styled and curled. ( there are other types of thermal reconditioning that leave the hair pin straight but it cannot hold any sort of bend or curl. It’s nice to have a choice).
    http://Www.thermalreconditioningSF.com will tell you a little about both methods.

  15. Carmen De Jesus
    April 17, 2013 at 3:55 pm — Reply

    Hi, I moved from New York to Miami. My hair is kinky-curly. I went to a salon in Little Havana and the salon owner suggested I have both the Yuko Japanese straightener AND a Keratin Treatment on top of it. I also had some over the counter color in my hair, but otherwise my hair was natural. I hesitated putting any relaxer in my hair because it took a few years just to grow it out of an overprocessed condition. However, the humidity in Miami in intense and my hair looked horrendous. My hair looked amazing the first year (I had the treatments three times in two years). However, eventually my hair just started shedding and breaking off. I lost length and thickness and now have new growth. I don’t know what I should do now because i have about three inches of natural new growth and the rest stick straight hair, and yes, it looks a mess. Does anyone know if applying both treatments simultaneously is harmful and may be the reason for the breakage and loss of hair? If I just decide to stick with the Keratin treatments moving forward, will my hair break at the point of the natural hair and where the Japanese straightener was applied? Anyone has any suggestions for getting my hair back to health? Thanks!

    • April 17, 2013 at 6:32 pm — Reply

      Very interesting. I have written and experienced both treatments but never heard about anyone getting them simultaneously! I wonder if both weakened your hair? I wish I had suggestions for you. When I had my hair fried by an inexperienced technician, my salon applied a deep conditioner several times that helped make it look better.

      • Ben
        April 21, 2013 at 5:49 am — Reply

        Hey lajollamom! I have been wanting to have either the Japanese or Keratin. Which one do you suggest I have done if I manly just want to get straight hair? After the 3 days with the keratin when you wash you hair will you hair stay straight without the use of a flat iron or will you hair go back to its naturally curly, frizzy state?

        • April 21, 2013 at 10:37 am — Reply

          I would probably suggest Japanese. Once your hair is straight, it’s straight and gets curly at the roots as it grows out. A Brazilian just falls out of your hair entirely.

  16. Sarah Davis
    March 18, 2013 at 8:38 pm — Reply

    Hi La Jolla mom!

    I also live in San Diego 🙂
    Id love to have japanese hair straightenin
    I tried the Brazilian one and it lasted maybe 2 months at most. I was wondering how much the touch ups cost you if you don’t mind me asking and does it look really funky if you let it go say 6-8 months (or if you decide to grow it out)? I can’t find any pics online. Just curious. Thanks!!!!

  17. Alex
    February 16, 2013 at 3:54 am — Reply

    My hair is mixed afro my dad from Barbados and my mother uk with fair straight hair. I definately have inherited more of the caribbean hair! I got fed up with the damage of old style Afro hair straighteners and have been having Japanese straightening for 6 years now. My hair is not great condition but is the best it has ever been. It is also the longest it has ever been. I have Brazilian blowouts from time to time in between to help the straightness last longer. I try not to have a japanese straighten more than every 9-10 months although have done it with as little as 7months in between. My hair stays v straight for 2-3 months I can wash and go. After that it takes blowdrying to make it look nice . After 4months I have to start tonging the roots. Around then I will have a Brazilian which makes it dead straight again and puts some condition in it. The problem with this tho is having to use sulphate free shampoo and I swim in salt water alot which washes it out. I hope this helps

    • Liz
      October 16, 2014 at 4:38 am — Reply

      How does your hair looks right after you get out of salt water? I’m interested in asking you so many questions regarding caribbean hair and swimming since I want to start surfing and I don’t want my hair to be a bother. Please contact me at [email protected]

    • Andrea
      January 1, 2016 at 2:29 pm — Reply

      Thanks, I wanted to try a Brazilian in between Japanese straightening, esp. since I need bang touch ups every 3 months.
      My hair also loses the silkiness around then as well. I also sometimes get a little over processed lately, which concerns me, thinking of trying something different than Yuko. Maybe Liscio or IHR? Doing some research.
      Good to know I can combine Brazil w/ Jap.

  18. scarlet
    January 28, 2013 at 4:02 am — Reply

    How long Japanese Hair Straightening method keeps hair straight? Does this affect hair fall or any of kind of problem?

    • January 28, 2013 at 10:46 pm — Reply

      I love it. Mine lasts about 4 months, but I can stretch it out to 6 if I’m busy and can’t find the time. My hair actually falls our less with the treatment because I brush it less and it gets less tangled. I also use less shampoo.

  19. Ann
    January 2, 2013 at 10:47 am — Reply

    I’m curious about whether I should do keratin treatment and js every other time to give my hair a break? My hair feels so damaged but I dont want to stop straightening it. do you have any thoughts about this?

  20. Michelle
    December 10, 2012 at 9:12 am — Reply

    Hi, I’m really interested in the Japanese Hair Straightening and was wondering if this works for my type of hair (frizzy hair, similar to afro american type)…I saw a salon in Paris where they did say it also works for this type of hair…
    I have had my hair straightened with products but never with this kind of method so I was wondering if this would really work for me.
    If you have any feedback, I would be most grateful.

    • Caroline
      January 27, 2013 at 1:54 am — Reply

      I just got this done earlier in the day and I am soooooo happy. My hair stylist was raving about how many girls with that type of hair come in. He usually caters to afro american and frizzy hair girls. I had a digital perm done in August and my hair was fried and dried and very damaged.. now my hair is absolutely beautiful. Just do you research before choosing a salon.. many places can over process your hair.

      • Michelle
        January 27, 2013 at 6:18 pm — Reply

        Thanks Caroline, for your feedback…I’ll surely look into, I don’t there is anyone doing it here in Montreal, Canada…so I might check it out in Paris when I’m there…thanks again, cheers

  21. katherine
    September 2, 2012 at 6:52 am — Reply

    I have rad that it is best to shampoo with a shampoo that does not have sodium chloride in it. As well, I have read that there is a Japanese product called Nano its a white milky looking spray that you are to spray on form time to time…do you know if anything about either of these two things?

  22. Nan Koch
    February 25, 2012 at 1:32 pm — Reply

    I was exploring your site, impressed with the health conscious vibe I picked up… until I saw this post. Please do some research and update your readers. My stylist (pregnant with twins) refused to offer this service once she learned about this:

    Within months that salon completely discontinued offering the service until further research could be done. Stick with the blowdryer or even better, learn to love your wavy, lovely hair.

    • February 26, 2012 at 10:24 am — Reply

      Yes, this is part of the reason why I went back to Japanese Hair Straightening (the subject of this post) which has been done for years and years in Asia. Of course, doing nothing to your hair is the best option, however, with mine it’s definitely a trade-off. Thanks for stopping by!

  23. Hair Straightening
    February 10, 2012 at 5:18 am — Reply

    This kind of hair straightening is very popular. But you should khow side effects of it. Be carefull/

  24. Megan
    July 29, 2011 at 8:59 pm — Reply

    I just moved to HK and am looking for a good salon to have my hair straightened. I have had the Japanese thermal straightening done before and loved it! I had the Brazillian keratin treatment most recently but it is starting to wear off and I need to get my hair done before it does nuts with this humidity. I would love to know where you had yours done in HK and about how much you paid if you remember. Thanks!

    • July 30, 2011 at 7:21 am — Reply

      I had mine done at Private i in the Four Seasons Hotel. I can’t remember the name of the technician but he is great and my hair was always soft and shiney. I have had my hair FRIED at a cheaper salon in Central. I think Private i charges around $2500ish – I can’t really remember. I have A LOT of hair though and it’s below shoulder length. Mine takes longer than most. Call them to verify the price since that was also 2 years ago. Good luck!

  25. […] Diego,Spas Before I went on vacation there are a two things I’m very glad I did. One was get Japanese Hair Straightening (so I never had to do my hair) and the other was have my legs lasered. I only had my first […]

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