Whether you want to change your curly hair look, reduce stubborn hair frizz or enjoy tresses worthy of any shampoo ad, hair straightening is one of the best ways to achieve one or all of these #HairGoals. But with plenty of straightening options available, the selection can be tricky. Which straightening solution suits your hair type?
Here’s a thought: Japanese hair straightening.
Otherwise known as thermal reconditioning, Japanese permanent hair straightening is a hair trend currently gaining traction among keratin aficionados and hair experts. This straightening solution applies a cocktail of chemicals to permanently straighten your hair, putting your frizzy and curly hair worries to rest.
Many women swear by this new straightening solution. According to them, it’s the answer to your shiny hair prayers. But Japanese hair straightening does come with pros and cons, the latter being controversies concerning the side-effects (e.g., dryer and brittle hair). The treatment can harm your hair if it’s done by an untrained or inexperienced stylist. But if an expert stylist does it well, you can enjoy locks perfect for summer aesthetic, spring fashion or even winter wear.
So before you Google “Japanese hair straightening near me,” learn more about the benefits and drawbacks while you think if it’s the right solution for you.
Here are some of the frequently asked questions concerning Japanese hair straightening.
What is the History of Japanese Hair Straightening?
Japanese hair straightening is a popular permanent straightening solution that originated in Japan during the 1990s. For a decade, the process was exclusive to Japanese hair salons, but it eventually went abroad. The straightening process first gained popularity in the United States when it was all the rage in New York during the early 2000s.
How Does Japanese Hair Straightening Work?
The process is extensive; typical straightening sessions can last up to four hours but in some cases, it can take up to eight hours, depending on the thickness, length and condition of the hair being treated. Hairstylists will treat your hair with a special solution that chemically alters your hair’s bonds, giving shape to your hair’s individual strands.
Japanese hair straightening has six steps:
- Consultation. Due to the potential drawbacks associated with the process, your hairstylist will meet with you for a consultation. During the consultation, they will discuss how the procedure will go, as well as what you can expect. They will also determine if your hair can benefit from the technique or not. Once you are confirmed as a good candidate, you can book your appointment.
- Cleaning. The actual process begins with a thorough shampooing of your hair to remove the oil and dirt. Partial drying follows.
- Application of the solution. Unless you have a history of chemical hair treatments or hair coloring, the activator or solution will be applied to your hair after the shampooing. Before application, your stylist will do a strand test to see if your hair is ready.
- Testing. If you pass the strand test, your stylist will rinse your hair, apply conditioner and rinse it again before applying a heat protector. Your hair will also be ironed at very precise temperatures.
- Application of neutralizer. After the ironing, your stylist will apply a neutralizer (a must-have for rebonding) and leave it on to stabilize your hair’s pH levels.
- Blow drying. Your hairstylist will apply more conditioner and heat protectant before the final blow-drying. After the treatment, you must keep your hair dry and free from kinks for up to 72 hours (48 hours in some cases). This means no hair clips, combs, ponytails or combs.
How Often Can You Get Japanese Hair Straightening?
The number of times you can straighten your hair depends on your hair type, the health of your hair and your lifestyle. If you have thick and curly hair, you can have the treatment two to three times a year, for maintenance.
How Much Does It Cost for Japanese Hair Straightening?
The price depends on the length and density of the hair. For some salons, the price range starts from about $500 to $600 (for shoulder-length hair or longer). Other factors can also influence the cost of your treatment, such as the number of hair per square inch, amount of highlights and color.
Just to be sure with the price, it’s best to consult with your local salon. Talk to them about the pricing of the treatment for your hair.
Is Japanese Hair Straightening Better than Keratin?
It depends on the end-result that you want. Japanese hair straightening straightens curls to eliminate frizz by making the hair straight. If you want a semi-permanent result and straighter hair, Japanese hair straightening is your best option.
On the other hand, a keratin treatment is ideal if you just want frizz-free hair. Keratin is known for its hair benefits. Unlike Japanese hair straightening, keratin treatment involves infusing formula into freshly washed hair with an iron, thus only impacting the outer layer of your hair. Japanese hair straightening changes the hair’s inner bond. So with a keratin treatment, you don’t straighten the curls. You soften them, which eliminates the frizz.
How to Care for Hair After Japanese Hair Straightening
The first 72 hours after the treatment is critical. This waiting period gives your hair the time to rest, as well as to finish the neutralizing process.
During this time, avoid getting your hair wet. Refrain from shampooing, sweating, swimming or even walking in the rain. If your hair does get wet, immediately blow-dry and flat-iron the area. Keep the temperature low to prevent further damage.
Also, avoid applying hair products during the waiting period. This means no hairspray, dry shampoo, gels or mousse. Your hair must be as straight as possible, so try not to pull your hair into a ponytail or tuck it behind your ears. Using hair accessories, such as glasses and hats, must be avoided, too.
Once the 72 hours is over, consult with your stylist again to learn how you can take care of your newly straightened hair.
In terms of hair care products, you might need to change some of your faves. For example, anti-dandruff shampoos with sulfur have harmful effects on chemically straightened hair. Use shampoos and conditioners designed for Japanese straightened hair. These hair products are usually free from sulfates or sodium chloride, which strip your hair of Ammonium Thioglycolate (aka the component that straightens your hair).
What are the Pros and Cons of Japanese Hair Straightening?
A final look at the advantages and disadvantages of Japanese hair straightening can give you a better idea if you should do it or not.
Consider the following:
- Manage curly and unruly hair instantly. If you have frizzy and curly hair, this technique makes your locks easy to manage. No need to always wrestle with your brush for a good comb. Japanese hair straightening smoothens your hair ASAP.
- Enjoy peace of mind. The result of the treatment can last for six months, which means you can enjoy fabulous, frizz-free hair for a long period. After six months, you need to retouch your hair so you can continue enjoying it.
- Enjoy sleek and glossy, low-maintenance hair. If you don’t have the time to style your hair, no worries. Your hair will stay sleek and shiny for a long time so you can get out of bed and still enjoy a good hair day.
- No need for additional heat styling. If you used to apply tons of products or use heating tools just to keep your hair well-behaved, you don’t have to do that now. Save more time and money with maintenance-free hair.
- Expensive procedure. The cost of the treatment, as well as the aftercare and retouch, can be pricey. If you do not have the budget to purchase the needed aftercare products, your hair will be damaged.
- Altered hair structure. Japanese hair straightening completely alters your hair bonds. After the treatment, it’s impossible to regain the body and volume of your hair.
- Hair damage is possible. If an inexperienced hairstylist performs the treatment, you could end up with hair damage.
Japanese hair straightening changes your look or commands your style like the #GirlBoss you are. If straighter hair is your #HairGoals for this year or the next, Japanese hair straightening is a good consideration. But before you go and book an appointment, consider the points above and consult with a hairstylist to determine if Japanese hair straightening is your yellow brick road.