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.