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 in humidity tends to become frizzy and unmanageable. I function better and look more on-point when my hair is 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 Japanese Hair Straightening?
Japanese hair straightening (thermal reconditioning) is permanent hair straightening.
This means that once you straighten your hair using this technique, it’s straight. Like permanent color treatments, Japanese hair straightening will grow out and then you’ll continue to touch up the roots.
I haven’t needed to use a hairdryer (unless I need to dry in a hurry) or flat iron since having Japanese hair straightening. It’s made my life much easier.
However, hair becomes nearly pin-straight which isn’t a look that everyone wants. If you want to just tame your curls or keep more body with straighter hair, 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 completely wear out over time so that the entire length of your hair reverts back to its normal state. This was frustrating to me, 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 weight down new growth and pull it 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.
Japanese Hair Straightening Methods
There are many 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, which is 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, and my hair looked nice and shiny afterward.
iStraight comes in three 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 straightening as both would be too damaging.
However, I’ve since switched to a lovely Japanese salon called Montblanc Hair Field. The system they use is from Japan and I’m not sure what it’s called. It’s also fantastic and I pay less there than I did for iStraight.
Japanese Hair Straightening Care
When you can wash your hair after Japanese hair straightening depends on the type of treatment you get. With iStraight, I was told not to wash my hair for 72 hours. I survived this with no problem and my hair didn’t look too greasy. With the Japanese system, I can wash my hair 24 hours later though I usually wait at least 48 hours.
During the time that you aren’t washing your hair, you can’t exercise either unless you’re convinced you won’t sweat, which brings moisture to your roots. You can’t wear headbands, ponytails, put your hair behind your ear, sunglasses on your head, or do anything other than sleep that might crease your hair.
How to Maintain Japanese Hair Straightening
I was told that I can use any shampoo that I like as long as it’s not drying. I read that the iStraight B3 Conditioner must be used to maintain your hair if you choose iStraight. My iStraight 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.
How Much Does Japanese Hair Straightening Cost?
The cost of Japanese hair straightening usually depends on the thickness and length of your hair. For iStraight, I paid $500 plus tip the first few times (but have pretty thick hair). Montblanc Hair Field charges $289–$549 depending on the system you’d like, thickness, and length of hair.
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.
My hair has behaved in line with the treatments I received in Hong Kong so I’m thrilled. I’m happy to answer any questions about it.