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Hair Straightening: Sorting Through The Fog

Hair Straightening

Hair Straightening Are you confused by all the buzz words?

It’s easy to get confused with your hair straightening options, Japanese Hair Straightening or Thermal Reconditioning. In researching these new innovative hair straightening services, I’ve come to understand the most important things you need, an experienced professional. Like any chemical hair treatment, it takes some time to get the experience of how different hair types react any chemical treatment. A hairdressers past experience with perms, hair straighteners and hair colors will lend knowledge in being able to identify a number of critical issues that need attention when considering hair straighteners.

An experienced hairdresser can assess if your hair can handle this type of hair straightening. They also will know, from experience, just when your hair has been relaxed enough to stop the processing.

Seek out a SPECIALIST because the procedure requires special training. A good personality type for giving this procedure . . . a meticulous, anal-retentive type who is well-informed and keen on detail.

How do you find this person? This is still fairly new in America so it may take work on your part. Ask around and get referrals if you can. Check well established, credible salons, including high-profile chain salons. In the consultation ask lots of questions, ask for before and after pictures. The more informed you are the better you will be able to assess their know-how. If you question their confidence and ability, hold off and consult with someone else. Tell them you need to think it over if you aren’t sure. A consultation is a two-way street, so follow your intuition.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST? On average about $500.00 but it can go from $200.00 to $800.00 depending on how long it takes. Basically you’ll be charged by the hour.

WHAT MAKES IT UNIQUE? A ceramic flat iron is used in the process to create pressure with extreme heat.

WHY DID THE JAPANESE, WHO HAVE STRAIGHT HAIR, COME UP WITH THIS METHOD? With this hair straightening method, the Japanese discovered a way to “soften” strong-minded hair, as well as curly hair. Softening the hair gives it more movement or body and a healthier look!

DO I NEED A CONSULTATION? A preliminary consultation is a must! A qualified hairdresser /specialist needs to check the condition of your hair to evaluate if it will hold up to the chemical process. You need to be very clear about any chemicals that you have used in the past that may still remain on your hair. You may be sent home with a hair care regime to follow before your scheduled appointment. Some red flags to having this done may be:

  • Pre-lightened hair
  • Some colored hair
  • Strong African hair types
  • Hair straightened with lye type / sodium relaxers

WHAT IS THE PROCEDURE? Simplified, it looks like this; but this procedure may need to be repeated and seems to take on average 5 to 8 hours. Some people may require a second days appointment.

  • Straightening solution is applied and rinsed when your hair has reached the correct stage of relaxation
  • Sections of (approximately 1/4 inch) throughout the head are blow dried and flat-ironed . . . meticulously
  • Neutralizer is applied and watched as it “sets in” the new form of the relaxed hair
  • Rinse, blow-dry and flat-ironed again

HOW LONG DOES IT LAST? Your natural hair type will make the difference on how well the new growth can blend with the straightened hair.

From those I’ve talked to in the hair industry, sounds like when this is done right the results are spectacular, straight hair, incredibly soft and silky, shiny hair with no frizz! If it’s not done right, major breakage can happen! (Maybe you want to think about investing in a high quality flat-iron instead?)

Here is one womans experience with a Japanese hair straightening treatment at a local hair salon. Sounds great…..but $700.00???, not in my neighborhood.

Japanese Hair Straightening

I had my treatment done at a Japanese salon in Ohio that specializes in this hair straightening service. After about six hours of sitting in the hair salon, being alternately shampooed, heated under intense heat lamps, blown out, flat ironed, and then going through the entire process again, I emerged from the salon with a completely re-texturized, smooth and sleek head of hair.

All together, the straightening process cost about $750, including a VERY generous tip and a large bottle of shampoo and conditioner specially formulated for my new straightened hair. The hourly rate for the service was $80, which is actually below most others that charge about $100 an hour. I was under strict instructions to guard my hair from water or any type of moisture for the next 72 hours.

I was completely thrilled with my new hairI was completely thrilled with my new hair straightening treatment. The light reflected off of it like crazy, and it blew naturally in the breeze, not at all dried out or artificial, like you might expect after a chemical treatment. It actually was in the best condition ever, which seemed counter-intuitive since it had essentially just been through six hours of chemical and heat treatment. Nevertheless, it was absolutely and undeniably true.

I was told I would need to come back for a touch up on the new growth anywhere from 6 months to a year, depending on how straight I wanted it to stay and the rate of hair growth. It is now six months later, and even though it has more body, it is still shiny and smooth. I actually like it a little more with some body at the roots. It gives it a little extra lift, and the remaining hair is still straight and manageable.


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Got a question, war story or comment about this topic? Click on the "Leave Your Comments" link at the very bottom of this article. Some of my best ideas for future articles come from reading reader comments. I'd love to hear from you!


  1. Please tell me where in Cola SC you had the japanese straightening done! I live here and am in need of a touch up! Thanks

    Comment by Jennifer — November 7, 2009 @ 3:41 pm

  2. Yes, please tell us where in Columbia, SC you went! I’m here and I really need to get my roots and hair reconditioned! My curls are growing back insanely!!!!

    Comment by Erica — July 28, 2009 @ 12:28 pm

  3. Taylor, where in Columbia, SC did you go?

    Comment by kendra — July 14, 2009 @ 11:05 pm

  4. where in ohio did you go

    Comment by jodie — November 20, 2008 @ 9:57 pm

  5. I just had my hair done in Columbia SC and agree with you completely! I have to admit after reading all I could on the subject I was a bit concerned and worried if I was doing the right thing.. (inexperienced stylist.. sometimes you just don’t know!) It was a long and tedious process. I paid 100.00 per hour and it took 4 1/2 hours to finish. Imagine my concern when she told me I was her first one! Honestly, I don’t think it has anything to do with experience… it’s all about patience! When they hot iron your hair to lock in the chemical.. you can only do a few hairs at a time!.. I suspect after a while some stylists get impatient and start pulling more hairs just to get it done.. and this may be the problem for some. The poor girls arms started to cramp as she continued to pull just a few strands of my long hair through the iron hour after hour. She was a perfectionist. I benefited from it. My course, frizzy long hair is sleek and shiney and straight and feels so nice to touch.. expensive? yes. worth every penny.

    Comment by Taylor — July 18, 2008 @ 7:31 am

  6. what salon in ohio did you go to

    Comment by lauren maccormick — July 19, 2007 @ 1:49 pm

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