What you need to know about Japanese and Brazilian straightening treatments
The facts to read up on.
In our current times, technology has a quick fix for everything so it’s not surprising the hair world got in on this in various ways. The trouble is quick fixes can be just that, quick, and potentially damaging (in irreversible ways) if you don’t get clued-up on what you’re doing. Japanese and Brazilian treatments that claim to permanently straighten or smooth hair have attracted a degree of controversy so we sifted through the facts and consulted the experts to find out what’s worth it, and what’s definitely not.
If you battle with wiry, frizzy or unmanageable curls and are seeking a permanent solution, it’s possible you’ve looked into Japanese straightening. The technique uses a round of chemicals to breakdown the bonds of the hair, followed by heat straightening to shift strands from curled to pin straight. The costly and time-consuming process is not offered at many salons, and some say for good reason. “The problem with this is your hair becomes so sensitive, you can not colour it after this service,” says Jaye Edwards of Sydney salon Edwards and Co. “Colour does the same thing to hair, it changes the bonds but on a much milder scale.”
If you’re tempted, make sure you ask all the right questions of your hairdresser including, how unhealthy will my hair be post-treatment? And how will it come out? The latter brings us to an important point; this treatment does not wash out gradually, you will have to grow it out meaning, like regrowth, there will be an aesthetically abrupt difference between your pre- and post- treatment hair. Picture curly roots with straight lengths.
Another more popular option is a Brazilian keratin treatment. Some hairdressers still avoid this as it does wear on the hair, however Edwards is a supporter. “It can be very beneficial for the client,” he explains. “The hair gets coated in a protein, it is then dried and straightened with a straightener. From the heat the protein coating acts like a glad wrap that has been melted onto the hair and smooths the hair out.”
The things to be aware of: this will not completely straighten your hair, rather smooth it and it’s difficult to colour your hair after this is done as colour can corrode the protein, Edwards says. It’s also not advisable to do too frequently as the heat used can damage hair. “It definitely is not something I recommend to everyone. I advise to have one every five months,” Edwards says.
If all this scares you off, there are a plethora of other options out there as Anthony Nader of Raw salon explains. “When you’re at the salon next, don’t be afraid to get to the nitty gritty about your hair concerns with your hairstylist,” Nader explains, adding that a hair cut can reduce bulk and make the most of your natural curls or waves. “Leaving your hair one length is a way to control your hair [and stop it] from flying around your face,” says Nader. “The more weight you can promote to your hairstyle, the less work it will be.”
Nader says another option is an in-salon moisturising treatment, which works like an intense version of the hair masks you do at home, or an oil treatment that will add lustre. He also advises reducing heat whenever possible from hot tools and overly warm showers. “When you’re giving your hair a final rinse, turn down the temperature to the coolest you can stand as this closes the hair scales which then gives your hair more sheen and more control throughout the day.” It can be that easy.