For women with curly hair, curls aren’t always a dream. Straightening the hair can be a difficult task and it becomes a ritual only for special occasions and lasting too little after that, which can be frustrating. But modern cosmetic technology has made it possible to have straight hair for longer periods of time and even permanently. Japanese Hair Straightening is one of such solutions.
What is Japanese Hair Straightening?
Also known as Thermal Reconditioning, this chemical hair straightening treatment was invented by a Japanese hair expert named Yuko Yamashita. It quickly conquered the West as fashion magazines publicized its results. Other makers soon came into the market with their own systems: Liscio, Magic Straight, Ionic Perm, Bio-Ionic Straightening, Rusk, STR8, only to mention a few. But the most popular ones are the Japanese Yuko and Liscio, and the Korean Magic Straight. Regardless of the name, the process is the same, only different in details. Basically, it changes the texture and look of your hair to make it straight, longer and shinier with low maintenance.
What happens during the treatment?
The stylist applies a shampoo and pre-conditioner on to your hair and then a chemical relaxer in stages. In between these stages, he will successively apply heat (under intense lamps), use a blow-dryer and then a flat iron to straighten the hair. He will repeat this process all over again as many times as needed until your hair is fully straighten. One could think that excessive heat applied over and over again could damage the hair but the opposite occurs: the correct heat application re-texturizes the hair and makes it healthier.
The entire procedure can last anything between three to four hours (sometimes longer, up to 6 or 8 hours), depending on the type of your hair, length, thickness and degree of damage. The price can vary between $ 500 and $ 1000 because some salons charge per treatment and others per hour (around $ 80 to $ 100/hour). This price usually includes a bottle of shampoo and conditioner to take home. After that, you are advised to protect your hair from water or any type of moisture for the next 72 hours (exercising included, due to perspiration); to use a good conditioner and an SPF spray to protect the hair from sun and UV; and also to wait at least two weeks before styling your hair or applying any coloring.
Does the Japanese system involve any risks and damages to my hair?
Like any other hair treatment involving chemicals, it’s important that you find a certified salon where you can ask your questions and where a professional can examine your hair to determine whether you qualify for the thermal reconditioning. It’s worth paying a little more money but having a good professional doing the job.
Japanese Hair Straightening can be applied to any type of hair that is longer than two inches and with no coloring done for the last 2 weeks. The treatment may not be recommended or as effective in African hair (or any highly curled hair), seriously damaged hair, hair with highlights, or hair that has undergone multiple serious chemical treatments. Make sure you are honest with your stylist about any previous treatments you applied, so that he can safely advise you. If, for example, you did any hair straightening using Thio, you’ll probably be okay to proceed with the thermal treatment. But if you had any lye-based relaxers or sodium hydroxide applied, the stylist will advise you to wait for new hair growth before going for the Japanese treatment because these ingredients can have side effects when combined with ammonium thioglycolate.
How long does the treatment last?
The results for Japanese Hair Straightening are almost permanent. Once straightened, that hair won’t go back to its original curly form. Only on new hair growth will the new hair come with its natural curly texture but that doesn’t affect the hair ends, which remain straight. You’ll only need to visit your stylist every 4 to 6 months for touch ups but these time frames change, depending on how fast your hair grows back and how straight you want to keep it. Still, these results last longer than the Brazilian Blowout ones, another popular hair straightening process. Even though this treatment is quite similar to the Japanese one (shampooing, heating, blow-drying and ironing), the purpose, the chemicals and the results are different.
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