Why I’m Obsessed with Japanese Hair Straightening
Anytime I tell someone I have naturally curly hair, I constantly get the same reaction, and it’s always along the lines of “What! I never would have guessed that!” or “No, you must be lying”. Ten years ago, I started my journey with Japanese hair straightening, and I’ve never looked back.
Japanese hair straightening is essentially permanent hair straightening; think of it as the opposite of a perm. A chemical is used to open the hair cuticles and break the bonds of the hair. Your hair is then rinsed, blow dried and flat-ironed as straight as possible. A neutralizer is then applied, closing the cuticles and locking the hair into its new slick straight shape.
Since I knew there were a few strong chemicals being used and that it’s quite a lengthy process, I was adamant about finding the best place to get it done. After some extensive research, I found Studio T in Markham. The studio owner, Taro, moved here from Japan, where he learned the best techniques for Japanese hair straightening. With direct access to some of the best products on the market, he perfected the technique at his Markham studio.
My Hair Story
It used to take me about an hour to fully straighten my natural hair. My hair is really frizzy with a very strong wave that takes meticulous effort to straighten out. And god forbid it was humid or started to rain one day. All my hard work would go straight down the drain. Add to that the fact that I could never wear it completely down, even when I straightened it. Since my hair was prone to puffiness and sensitive to any heat, humidity or moisture whatsoever, I would always wear it up in a ponytail or half ponytail to tame the poof and frizz.
Sometimes it seemed almost useless to straighten it, but aesthetically, I’ve always liked my hair better when it’s straight or when it’s curled with a curling iron. If I wanted to have nice curls with my natural hair, I would have to take an hour to straighten it and then even more time to curl it the way I wanted it. Now, I can either leave it straight, or curl it immediately after drying. It has made my mornings so effortless because now I can just dry and go. I don’t have to worry about frizzy hair when I go on a beach vacation, I don’t have to worry about my hair puffing up every time it rains, and I don’t have wake up an hour earlier just to get my hair into a manageable state.
The first time you get Japanese hair straightening will be the longest because they have to straighten your full head of hair. My first time took about 6 hours, so make sure you bring some snacks and something to read. When I get it re-touched, it usually takes about 4 hours, since they only have to straighten the roots. I get it retouched once a year because, funds, but if I wanted to retouch the roots as soon as they noticeably grew in, I could probably go every 6 or 8 months. I opt for straightening the roots with a flat iron in between sessions because it doesn’t take too long.
The cost of Japanese hair straightening can be anywhere from $500 to $1,500 depending where you go and whether it’s your first time or a touch up.
Do Your Due Diligence
There are a lot of salons that offer Japanese hair straightening — many of them for a very high price tag. If you’re going to be paying so much for something, especially a treatment that uses chemicals on your hair, make sure to do your due diligence. For me, it was more important to find someone with a lot of experience and high quality products than someone at a high-end salon.
Do you have anymore questions about Japanese hair straightening? Let us know in the comments!
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Kate is a Toronto-based freelance writer and founder of lifestyle blog, www.layeredindulgence.com. When her head isn’t buried in her laptop, you can find her taking a hot yoga class, curled up with a good book, or sipping a chai latte at one of Toronto’s various cafés. Follow her adventures @katebialowas.