A Japanese straight perm, or "thermal reconditioning" as it is also known, is a technique developed in Japan in which the internal hair bonds are first broken, and then reconditioned into a straight style; giving glossy, soft and easy to manage hair.
Treated hair will stay permanently straight with only the re-growth needing touching up. Generally you will only need a touch-up every six to ten months, depending on how quickly your hair grows and how curly your hair was originally. It works equally well on all hair types.
I have had my straight perm for a 3 months now and have absolutely no sign of re-growth and in that time I have not had a single bad hair day!
Be prepared, a Japanese straight perm can take from 4 - 6 hours. Make sure you book in advance and take something to read.
- Your hairdresser should assess your hair.
- You can choose between 'natural straight' or 'hard straight'. Hard straight is almost inhumanly so, which is why I recommend the natural version.
- Thorough shampoo and condition of your hair.
- Deep conditioning treatment can be used on your hair should it require it, to prevent breakage during the treatment.
- Creme based relaxer will be applied to your hair, which will then be wrapped in cling-film.
- This may be left on for around an hour.
- A second shampoo and condition.
- At this point your hair will look terrible. The bonds inside have been broken and it will be a frizzy horrible mess. Don't cry at this point.
- Hair will be dried and straightened within an inch of its life. I had 2 hairdressers straightening mine for over 30 minutes.
- At this point the style should be decided. If you want a parting etc now is the time to say so. The hair will be set into this style, and there's no going back.
- A neutralizer will be put on the hair. Finally setting the hair into position.
- Be prepared to be wrapped in cling film again.
- A last shampoo and condition.
- The hair will be allowed to air dry for a short time (if you are in Japan this is most likely the time you will get your complementary head and shoulder massage).
- Depending on the salon your hair will be left to dry naturally or blasted with a hairdryer.
General after care advice
- Do not wash your hair for 2 days.
- Do not put clips or hair ties in your hair for 2 days. The hair may set in this strange position, leaving kinks.
- The first few times you wash your hair after treatment use a hair dryer to dry it completely straight.
- Use a shampoo and conditioner recommended for use with a straight perm.
Price is another thing which can vary salon to salon. I personally paid 12,000 yen, (about 95GBP/160USD). Not cheap, but not unreasonable for something so significant.
I hear that it can be even more expensive outside of Japan. If anyone has any experience of this, we'd be glad to hear from you in the comments.