Has your hair been the “enemy” of the look you are after for as long as you can remember? I know the story all to well.
Today I bring you an article on Japanese hair straightening – what it actually is, how it works and, most importantly does it affect your hair in any undesirable way.
We’ll respond to these questions that girls often ask me:
Can it be done at home and what to use if you go down this road?
What do I use to take care of my hair after the procedure?
What hair straightener to use if I’m doing it at home?
Anything that you can think of about the procedure – from how it’s done to, most importantly side effects and how to minimize them
Desperate times call for desperate measures. I know because I’ve been there. There comes a time when there’s absolutely nothing you wouldn’t try just to say bye-bye to those persistent curls or insufferable frizz. If during your desperate moments you somehow stumbled upon Japanese hair straightening, let me tell you a thing or two about it, so you know all you should before pouring a bunch of chemicals over your precious hair.
What people frequently ask me:
Question 1: Can I do it at home, is it safe and what products do you recommend?
Yes, you can do it at home. The name “Japanese straightening” is just that – a name for a procedure that’s also known as “thermal reconditioning” and it can be done at home.
To do it safely and efficiently you need to:
understand the basics of the process to minimize side effects (described in the manuals included in the products for thermal reconditioning)
only use reliable, tested products (we’ll list a few in a minute)
take proper care after the procedure
We asked 20 hairstylists to rate best thermal reconditioning products for home (use on a scale of 1-5) – here are the results:
Overall Quality Rating
Quantum Thermal Straightener Normal/Resistant Formula
4.8 / 5
One'n Only From Jheri Redding Resistant Thermal Ionic Permanent Straightener Resistant
4.4 / 5
Bio Ionic Retex Hair Straightening System, Retex Kit
4.1 / 5
Question 2: How do I take care of my hair after the procedure?
There is only a handful of products that are good enough to deep-condition and protect your hair from breakage between and after the treatment.
We asked the same experts to rate products used for hair-care between treatments and after the process (both done at home and salon) so that the side affects are minimized:
Here are the results of that mini poll:
Overall Quality Rating
Hydrating Argan Oil Hair Mask and Deep Conditioner By Arvazallia for Dry or Damaged Hair
Question 3: If I do it at home, what hair straightener do I use?
A high quality ceramic hair iron that will be as gentle on your hair as possible would be what you need.
Here are the experts picks:
Overall Quality Rating
HSI Professional 1 Ceramic Tourmaline Ionic Flat Iron
4.9 / 5
Professional Flat Iron by Jolie Amour
4.9 / 5
Infiniti Pro by Conair 1-Inch Tourmaline Ceramic Flat Iron
4.6 / 5
Japanese straightening – it goes by many names
It’s important that you know exactly what to look for once you go to the salon or look for a solution to use at home, ready to change your hair permanently. Here are some terms that all mean the same thing, so you’ll know what it is, no matter how your salon decides to call it:
These are all just fancy names for straightening your hair, Japanese style. So, whatever name your salon opts for, you’ll know it’s basically all the same stuff.
Let’s see what we’re talking about
Before we go over the side effects, first we should get acquainted with the procedure itself.
So, what is Japanese hair straightening exactly?
It’s a procedure primarily designed for treatments of smoothing and conditioning. It was later that it spread its field of effect to straightening it. The procedure itself will permanently alter the structure of your hair by loosening the bonds of protein called cysteine, and your hair will be reshaped by hair cells straightening.
It’s a very time-consuming procedure, which will take a little less or more time depending on your hair’s length and thickness. But generally, it will take around 6 to 8 hours. It will also require an additional session three days after the initial one, which takes another hour.
It’s not a cheap thing either. The prices go around 300-1500 dollars, but satisfied customers say it’s certainly worth it.
The end result will be a permanently straight hair with rich natural texture. It will not only look awesome but will be easily manageable too. The new growth however will be a cruel blast from the past, so you’ll need additional touch ups in a few months or so.
So, what are the downsides?
They are far fewer in number than, let’s say Brazilian hair straightening or other treatments that use formaldehyde as their straightening tool, but they exist and should be addressed.
I don’t have to tell you that any treatment that uses some sort of chemical concoction in combination with extreme temperatures has the potential of harming your hair, right?
This procedure can devastate your hair if done by an inexperienced person, and the damage would likely be permanent. So, if you decide that this is the thing for you, be sure to find a trained professional, preferably one that specializes in this treatment. Otherwise, we’re talking about severe breakage, heat and chemical damage and even hair loss after the procedure is over. The damage is irreversible, so be absolutely sure you’re putting your hair into the hands of someone who knows what they’re doing.
Also, there are incompatible services that must not be done before Japanese hair straightening. We’re talking about coloring your hair, applying relaxers to it or any other chemical treatment. Combined with this straightening method, it will, as I’ve said before, devastate your hair beyond repair.
These are all known dangers that lurk behind Japanese hair straightening. There are not too many but are very serious. The good news is they can all be avoided by choosing the right person for the job and coming clean about all chemical treatments you underwent recently.
Once you have all these factors down the procedure is quite harmless, no different than dying your hair. Well, it takes a lot more time and money, but that’s not what we’re talking about here.
How to minimize the risk?
Before I go, let me show you a couple of things you can do to make sure it all goes smoothly and according to plan:
Avoid this method if you’re all about changing your look regularly. Once you do it, there’s no going back. Additional treatments may cause damage, so things such as curls are out of the question
Perform a strand test before the procedure to see how your hair reacts to chemicals. This goes twice for you if you’ve done any coloring or bleaching recently. Otherwise, the chemicals might irritate your scalp and bring upon you a heavy hair loss situation
Type of your hair is very relevant as this method is not recommended for African curls. It features delicate tresses and the chemicals used can be particularly damaging
Once the procedure is over, make sure you moisturize your hair properly and keep it away from the sun as much as possible. Treat it with products for deep conditioning and don’t you dare color it for at least 1-2 months after the treatment
What was my experience?
Just this spring, I decided to straighter my hair using this Japanese method. I felt like it would go better with my new look – I wanted to darken my hair a bit, straighten it and and lighten my skin to contrast it. For skin lightening I used the Zeta White that’s all the rage and that worked pretty well. The Japanese hair straightening on the other hand, not so much.
I went to a salon to have it done and I kind of ended up looking like a wet poodle – it was flat but it had no loft to it. I guess it’s time for a DIY the next time I try it.
Japanese hair straightening has a potential to do harm to your hair, but it can also be perfectly safe. The advices I’ve just given you make all the difference.
Just don’t take the whole thing lightly, make sure it’s done by a trained professional, don’t undergo any incompatible treatments, and you’ll be perfectly fine.
It’s time you get control over your own hair. Just follow the instructions to the letter and it will be eating from the palm of your hand in no time.
I was a hair styling competition judge for more than 7 years. I now have my own hair styling salon. I consider it art and it's just my life-long passion. I blog about these things and from time to time I also write reviews on hair straighteners and hair styling products.