I know what you're all thinking- "another one? does she ever stop talking about her hair?" I do when I'm asleep, and on those rare occassions when I'm actually happy with the way it looks. Today is one of those rare days. As you know, this weekend I got my hair Japanese straightened. Since I've received a few questions about it, I figured I'd do a post on how it works.
The first thing that you need to know is that aside from the technical aspect of it, the process is 1) pricey, and 2) long. It takes several hours and most places charge $100/hour. There are a few "budget" salons that offer the service at a significantly reduced price- usually $250-300 instead of $500+ but don't be fooled, those salons either a lower-quality product, or what they are advertising is actually Brazilian Keratin treatment.
What is the difference between the Brazilian Keratin treatment and the Japanese straightening? The Brazilian treatment does not aim to make your hair straight, it aims to relax your hair a little bit and to make it frizz-free. If you have super-curly hair and want to go pin-straight, then this is not the option for you. However, if your hair is naturally wavy or on the straighter side or you have looser curls and are looking to save money, then this will work for you.
The Japanese straightening process is much more labor-intensive and takes a longer time. Before you get it done, I urge you to do a lot of research on salons in your area and to get recommendations, if possible. The treatment is permanent, and once you get your hair done, you can only get your roots redone as needed, you cannot fix any problem areas or patches since putting the solution on twice could damage your hair to break and fall out. If you are serious about wanting to get this done, do not scrimp on cost. For any of my New York readers, I highly recommend Le Salon Chinois for this.
Because the process takes a few hours and requires a lot of product, most salons will 1) require a down payment to make sure you don't flake out on them, and 2) will schedule you for an early morning appointment so that the stylist can have ample time to work on you and them potentially see another client. Be sure to eat beforehand because you are going to get hungry. If you go to a good salon, they may have menus of places where you can order lunch from or may provide you with snacks.
When you get to the salon, you will just get a regular shampoo and blowdry. After that, the stylist will apply a white goopy product to your hair in small sections and wash it out section by the section. The other sections will remain covered in foil and there will be a time when your head begins to resemble a baked potato. Embrace it. The goop needs to stay in your hair for around 20 minutes, so this process will take a few hours. After all of it has set in and been washed out of your hair, you will get another blowdry, and then the stylist will use a thin (0.5" or so) straightening iron to make your hair completely straight. At this point, it will also be a lot silkier and shinier and you will start to question "is this really me?" Just when you think you're done, the stylist will then put more goop on your head in the form of a neutralizer, this time all at once. After 20-30 minutes, he or she will wash it out, blowdry it, flat iron, and then you're good to go! After you get the treatment done, you can't wash your hair or put any clips, headbands, elastics, etc. in it for 72 hours, otherwise it will retain that form. If you are someone whose hair gets greasy easily, don't schedule a date or other important event for the third day.
The treatment is permanent so you need to get your roots touched up every few months. Depending on how quickly your hair grows back, you are usually told you have to wait 3-6 months before it can be redone.
Sadly I don't have any before and after pictures to show you, but believe me, the results are amazing and worth every penny. Today I brushed my hair for the first time since Saturday, and that's only because I toss and turn in my sleep.
I was there only to get my roots done, and the entire process took 5.5 hours. I was starving by the time I left the salon. Thank G-d for Thai food. If you want to get this process done, I highly recommend that you plan ahead and bring granola bars or other snacks with you just in case, along with books, magazines, etc. I brought my cell phone charger and spent all day emailing TLS.
On a somewhat related hair note, I have been lusting over this headband from the Gap. It is a thin silvery-grey color with two rossettes on the side. This weekend I went into two different stores and neither one had it. Of course, as my luck would have it, it is not available online. It retails for $12.50 If any of you see it in a store near you, can you please please pretty please get it for me and I would be more than happy to send you a check for that plus shipping?