How does it work?
Japanese straightening – also known as Yuko or thermal reconditioning – is a procedure that breaks down the chemical bonds that give hair its curly (or, you know, tumbleweed) texture. At the salon, a chemical solution is applied to clean hair and allowed to sit for a period of time (depending on your hair) in order to thoroughly break down the hair’s structure. Hair is washed and dried, then restructured, piece by piece, with a ceramic straightening iron. The new shape is sealed in with a neutralizing serum and then hair is rinsed, dried, and ironed all over again. Once you leave the salon, hair must remain untouched for three days (read: no putting it up or behind your ears) in order for it to retain its new straightness.
The procedure can be expensive and painstakingly long (think four-to-eight hours), but it’s popular among ladies who want to get rid of their waves for good. Because the result is permanently straight hair, it only needs to be touched up once new hair grows in.
Is it for me?
Will your hair cease to resemble a thornbush? Yes. Will it finally look the way you want? Depends. A lot of it hangs on the skill of your stylist and your own expectations. If the stylist is untrained, you might end up with burned or damaged hair. In terms of managing your expectations, here are a few issues that will likely pop up when your curls disappear:
- With some people, hair is more prone to breakage.
- Realize that your hair will fall flat from your head. It won’t ever curl or wave on its own.
- Straighter, flatter hair looks like thinner hair.
- Touch-ups are recommended every six months (as new curly hair grows in), but some maintenance is required in between if you want hair to look totally straight.
Many people have reported damage from the treatment (especially during the touch-up stage), so it’s best to research the salon, stylist and products before undergoing the treatment.