Japanese Hair Straightening Methods

Japanese Hair Straightening

Japanese Hair Straightening

Japanese hair straightening is a popular method for straightening curly or wavy hair. Many women with curly hair swear by it, and it can create a shiny, sleek style. But it comes with controversy. Sadly, it can wreak havoc on hair if it’s done incorrectly, or by an inexperienced or uneducated stylist. For that reason, it’s important to understand all the benefits and drawbacks while you consider if it’s right for you.

Also called thermal reconditioning, Japanese hair straightening was all the rage in the early 2000s New York City. For women with curly hair who have long envied silky straight tresses, it seemed like a miracle procedure. You walk into the salon with curly hair, drop $150 to $800 for hours of chemical treatment and flat-ironing, and walk out with super sleek, straight hair that stayed straight until it grows out. The treatment was so popular that it jumped coasts and became a hit on the West Coast and then in big cities across the country.

Japanese Hair Straightening
Japanese Hair Straightening

Curious About Japanese Hair Straightening?

Let us answer your questions about the process and help you decide if a thermal reconditioning procedure is a good fit for you. Keep reading to get an overview of the process or search our directory to find a salon near you.

The Basics Of Japanese Hair Straightening

Japanese hair straightening is a popular way of permanently straightening hair that originated in Japan in the 1990s. It promises to turn wavy, coarse, or curly hair into pin-straight locks by treating the hair with chemicals that break the protein bonds in the hair that give it its shape. This process is also known as “thermal reconditioning” since it also uses very special flat irons that heat to precise temperatures to complement the work of the chemical solution. This straightening process first became popular in the United States in New York City in the early 2000s and is now available at salons across the country.

How Does It Work?

Japanese straightening uses glycolic acid-derivative for treating the hair. This solution creates a disruption in the hair bond, which makes the hair straight. After applying the solution, the hair is then blow-dried and flat-ironed to straighten the hair. With the bond still disrupted, a neutralizer will be added to keep the hair permanently straight.

Sometime around the mid-1990s, this permanent hair straightening technique was in the public eye of Japan – hence its name. By the end of that era, Japanese hair straightening had moved to America. Salons in Los Angeles and New York were among the first to accept its use. It was like the holy grail of permanent hair straightening, the missing ingredient that has been sought for by those who were tired of having their hair all frizzed up.

Brazilian Keratin Versus Japanese Hair Straightening

Brazilian keratin doesn’t gradually grow out like Japanese hair straightening. It will completely wear out over time so that the entire length of your hair reverts to its normal state. This was frustrating to me, 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 weight down new growth and pull it flat.

Brazilian Keratin Versus Japanese Hair Straightening
Brazilian Keratin Versus Japanese Hair Straightening

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.

The Top Hair Straightening Methods Ranked

Flat Iron

Okay, so this isn’t a straightening treatment, but for beginners, a flat iron is the easiest way to tame frizzy hair until your next shampoo. When straightening your hair, make sure it’s completely dry before using a flat iron to avoid further damage to your hair. As straightening hair can make hair dry and brittle, be sure to always use a heat-protecting spray and try to go heat-free on days when you don’t need a straightener.

Hair Rebonding

Rebonding is a chemical hair treatment that makes hair straight, shiny and sleek. Hair rebonding involves using a cream or relaxant softener to break the natural hair structure followed by a neutralizer to re-bond the structure again. Rebonding is ideal for those who have problems taming their wavy or thick hair, however, once hair starts to grow in, the treatment can be easily detected. As popular as rebonding is, it can only be done every once in a while as it can make hair very fragile and weak. It also requires a lot of hair care maintenance – so choose this one wisely!

Keratin Treatment (Brazilian Straightening)

Keratin treatments have become increasingly popular over the past few years, and with good reason. They are one of the safer hair straightening techniques out there. Keratin is a natural protein that is already found in our hair, however as protein content decreases with age and a poor diet, so do keratin levels. The keratin treatment adds a coating of keratin onto the hair shaft giving it nutrients that leave hair silky, smooth and straight.

After a salon professional applies keratin solution to hair, a 450-degree flat iron is used to seal in the formula to hair strands (protect your ears from the heat, ladies), creating a moisture barrier that reduces frizz and gives hair a shiny finish.

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