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In-Depth Guide to Japanese Hair Straightening

Jennifer Aniston

Super straight, glossy, healthy hair, ala Jennifer Aniston, never goes out of style. But achieving the look is tricky. I’ve heard that Julianne Moore, Jennifer Aniston, Cameron Diaz, Tyra Banks and other celebs get Japanese Hair Straightening to smooth out their locks.

Ever since my In-Depth Guide to Brazilian Blowouts, I’ve been dying to do a similar post on Japanese Hair Straightening. I had a million questions for Miwa Kato, a Japanese Hair Straightening expert and Master Stylist with 20 years in the business. Check out our interview, and don’t miss Miwa’s fantastic before and after photos at the end. The results are amazing!

Hair On The Brain: Can you explain Japanese Hair Straightening and how it works?

Miwa: It’s also known as thermal reconditioning. The process chemically breaks down the hydrogen bonds in the hair’s cortex and restructures the hair to become permanently straight through ironing and neutralization. At the same time, it adds keratin, collagen, protein, amino acids, and a wealth of other healthy nutrients into the hair. It not only permanently straightens your hair, but it also retextures it. The result is hair that’s silky, soft, shiny, smooth and healthy looking.

HOTB: How is Japanese Hair Straightening different from the Brazilian Blowout? Are their benefits to Japanese Straightening?

Miwa: This is a totally different concept. Brazilian Blowouts don’t change the hair’s structure. The Brazilian Blowout treatment just goes into the cuticle and eventually washes out. With Japanese Hair Straightening, the hair stays permanently straight, and it needs to be done less often.

HOTB: In your opinion, which is the best Japanese Hair Straightening system offered?

Miwa: I love the Yuko System. They are the original brand in Japanese hair straightening and have been in the U.S. since 2000. I also love the advanced technology that in the new brand Hair OPE, which works for colored or highlighted hair. Their product contains antioxidants so that hair becomes healthier.

HOTB: Can all hair types be straightened in this method? And can colored and highlighted hair be straightened?

Miwa: Any hair type can be straightened by a skilled hairstylist. And if it’s one color, yes. For highlighted hair, it’s up to the knowledge, experience, and skill of the hairstylists.

More of my interview with Miwa and Japanese Hair Straightening before and after photos, after the jump.

HOTB: How long does the process usually take?

Miwa: It can take around four to five hours, or a lot longer, if the hair is resistant, thick, or long and kinky. It once took me seven hours to complete a process! The long amount of time is due to a pretreatment process and the extensive ironing technique. The right steps must be carefully followed by the stylist to ensure that the treatment is beneficial to the client.

HOTB: Is the straightening permanent? And how often will straightened hair need to be touched-up?

Miwa: Yes, it will permanently change the hair structure. And on average, most clients come back for a touch up on the new growth anywhere from six months to a year. It depends on your natural hair texture and how quickly your hair grows.

HOTB: After receiving the procedure, will you still have to blow dry or flat iron your straightened hair?

Miwa: Blow-drying will help smooth the cuticle and make the hair even shinier! When the roots begin to grow out curly, you will want to blow dry and use a flat iron to straighten the roots to match the ends. Ask your stylist about the best practice for blow-drying your hair.

HOTB: In general, how long will it take to style your straightened hair? Will you still have frizz?

Miwa: No, it’s great! There is no frizz. Once your hair is straightened, there is not much you need to do. Just dry your hair and smooth it out with a brush or iron for under 10 minutes. The time may increase as your new hair grows back because you want to style your roots to match the pre-straightened hair.

HOTB: After you straighten, can you color your hair? And if so, how long after straightening should you wait to color your hair?

Miwa: You can color your hair at least two weeks before or after the straightening procedure.

HOTB: Does Japanese Hair Straightening improve hair condition? Or does it damage hair condition?

Miwa: Unlike a regular relaxer, the Japanese Hair Straightening process will improve hair condition, if it is performed by a skilled hairstylist and the hair’s condition is kept up with the right products.

HOTB: I’ve heard horror stories of people having their hair break off during or after straightening. How can clients avoid this?

Miwa: Go to a highly skilled and experienced hairstylist by referral. With hair straightening, the saying that you get what you paid for is definitely true. The hair analysis consultation is key for the client and stylist. Be honest with the stylist about what you have done to your hair. Tell your stylist about your hair chemical and color history, what kind of products you use, how often wash your hair, etc. If a stylist does not ask these questions, then chances are high that they will not be careful with your hair. And the chances are even higher that the result will not be to your satisfaction. A correct application by a trained and experienced stylist will give you the results you desire.

HOTB: Are there specific hair products people should use after getting their hair straightened? Products to avoid?

Miwa: Home maintenance is the key to keeping hair silky, smooth and shiny! Don’t use cheap shampoo and conditioner from the drugstore. My favorite is Bella shampoo and conditioner from Yuko System. It works on all hair types. You may also want to use a leave-in conditioner to prevent split ends and to protect hair from the blow dryer or flat iron.

HOTB: Is there anything people should NOT do after having their hair straightened?

Miwa: For the first 48 hours, I would recommend not getting your hair wet, sweaty, putting it into a ponytail, using a hair clip, or put hair behind your ears. After 48 hours, you will be able to wash your hair and resume all of the above.

HOTB: Will hair be flat after the straightening?

Miwa: Yes, for a few weeks until your natural hair grows out a bit. If you don’t want the hair to be so flat, let your stylist know, and they will accommodate you.

HOTB: And lastly, about how much does Japanese Hair Straightening cost?

Miwa: With time and materials, it typically starts at $500 and can increases with longer, thicker, or difficult hair.

Thanks for answering all my questions, Miwa! You’re the best. If you want your hair straightened by Miwa, check out her website at www.miwahairart.com. Or visit her at:

Paint Shop
7938 W. 3rd St.
Los Angeles, CA, 90048
Phone: (323) 658-1930

Ok! Time for Miwa’s before and after photos…

-1

Girl A. Super curly hair.

-2

Girl A. Back view.

-3

Girl A, straightened back view. WOW!

-4

Dang, Girl A. You’re looking fly! Her hair is stick straight and shiny, smooth… Gorgeous! This before and after seriously blew me away.

-10

Girl B has extremely course hair texture.

-9

Girl B after straightening. Pretty amazing, huh?

-7

Girl C. Before.

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Girl C after. The craziest part is how much longer all their hair looks!


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