Although big curls will always be a classic, there’s nothing like sporting sleek and chic pin-straight hair. You get everything in one look – glossy shine, gorgeous movement, and zero frizz.
But let’s be honest. Straightening your hair with a flat iron every day can be exhausting, and frankly, a waste of time if you have better things to do. Thankfully, there are salon treatments available to keep your hair straight from the moment you wake up, like Japanese hair straightening.
Japanese hair straightening is a fan-favorite among women with curly, frizzy locks who want to trade in their spirals for sleek, straight hair. It sounds like an absolute miracle treatment – you walk in with a frizzy mess and leave with stylishly straight tresses.
Sound too good to be true? Well, the truth is, sometimes it is. An old client who moved to another state recently called me over a Japanese hair straightening gone wrong. The thing is, this type of hair straightening is high maintenance and can go wrong in multiple ways, whether it’s because of chemical or mechanical damage.
If you ever find yourself in a sticky situation after getting what you thought would be the Japanese hair straightening treatment of your dreams, here’s how to fix it.
What Is A Japanese Hair Straightening Treatment?
Japanese hair straightening (also known as an acid perm or thermal conditioning) is a treatment to straighten and smoothen unruly hair strands.
It dates back to the 1990s in Japan, where it was patented by a world-renowned stylist before making waves as a global hair trend among those with curly hair.
Basically, Japanese hair straightening is a chemical process that takes away up to 90% of your hair’s natural curl.
This leaves every strand smooth and silky straight, similar to Asian hair that is conventionally known to be long, sleek, and frizz-free.
The treatment works by breaking down your hair bonds with special chemicals, making it easier to alter your hair’s texture and structure.
Then, after a quick wash, your stylist will blow-dry and straighten your hair with a high-temperature flat iron to lock in the chemicals in a smooth, bone-straight look.
Japanese hair straightening requires touch-ups every half a year or so when your curly roots have grown too long.
And one last thing about this glamorous, coveted treatment: it can get very pricey.
Most salons will put their price for a Japanese hair straightening treatment at about $700, but I wouldn’t be surprised if at high-end salons it goes up to the thousands.
Difference between Keratin Treatments And Japanese Hair Straightening
Many people confuse Japanese hair straightening with your normal keratin treatment, and I understand why.
Both chemical processes work to tame frizzy, unruly hair, leaving it straight, shiny, and more manageable.
But the difference between the two lies in their formulas and longevity.
Keratin treatments are temporary.
They wash out over time the more you shampoo your hair.
Plus, they don’t get rid of all your curls; they simply make them a little smoother and more manageable.
Japanese hair straightening involves ironing your hair the flattest and straightest it can be.
It’s also permanent, so you can’t wash it out over time.
Basically, the only way to get rid of your hair that’s been straightened through this process is to chop it off.
See: How To Stop Hair Loss After Keratin Treatment
Japanese Hair Straightening Gone Wrong: What Happened?
Japanese hair straightening might sound like a dream if you’ve struggled with extremely curly and frizzy hair all your life.
Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it doesn’t go smoothly for everyone.
So many people have shared their anecdotes and horror stories about Japanese hair straightening.
They talk about how the treatment ended up “frying” and drying out their hair so much.
As with all chemical hair processes, Japanese hair straightening can go wrong too.
Luckily, there’s always a way to fix it so long as you know what went wrong in the first place.
There are two main reasons why your Japanese hair straightening can go wrong.
The first has to do with improper aftercare post-treatment, and the second happens right when you’re sitting in the salon chair getting the treatment done.
Let’s talk about each one in-depth, shall we?
Washing And Manipulating Hair Too Fast
As soon as your last lock of hair is ironed pin-straight, you have to be careful to keep your hair dry and untouched for at least 72 hours.
That means you can’t wash your hair.
You also need to avoid clips and ponytails that can change the shape of your hair and leave it looking bent and creased, not straight and sleek.
You must also watch out for habits like tucking your hair behind your ears – this can also make an indentation that leaves your hair less straight than when you walked out of the salon.
Keep in mind: after a Japanese hair straightening treatment, your hair is very delicate.
It’s still coated with chemicals that alter your hair’s texture.
So, any changes in the positioning of your strands will be locked in permanently, leaving you with unkempt, textured, unruly hair again.
That’s counterproductive to why you got your Japanese hair straightening in the first place!
The key is to keep your hair from getting wet and bent from manipulation.
Damage From Chemicals
One could argue that getting a Japanese hair straightening treatment is a healthier option than heat-styling your hair straight every day.
While that’s true for most, an unlucky few will still feel the devastating effects of this chemical process if they’re not well-prepared.
While Japanese hair straightening formulas don’t contain bleach, it still contains potentially harmful chemicals like formaldehyde that can damage your hair immensely.
If you don’t go to an expert to get this treatment (for example, opting to DIY at home), you run the risk of exposing your hair to the chemicals for far too long.
This can end up damaging your hair, leaving it weak, straw-like, and prone to breakage.
The chemicals in this treatment can deal severe damage, especially to previously treated hair.
Women who have colored their hair in the past should never come in for a Japanese hair straightening appointment.
This will leave your hair over-processed, dehydrated, and so fragile that your hair will just snap off unprompted.
Some people also report experiencing hair loss after getting a Japanese hair straightening treatment.
You can attribute this to scalp damage from the chemicals.
When the thermal conditioning formula is applied too close to the scalp, it can damage the skin, leading to hair shedding later on.
How to Get A Perfect Japanese Hair Straightening Treatment
Now, let’s talk about the fix and how to avoid Japanese hair straightening treatment mishaps.
Keeping Your Hair Straight After Washing Or Manipulating It Too Early
As mentioned earlier, you’re meant to leave your hair alone for the first 72 hours after your Japanese hair straightening.
This gives the chemicals enough time to lock in the straight texture in your hair.
That means no shampooing your mane, clipping your bangs up, or even lying on the bed with your hair above your head.
But if you’ve accidentally done anything you weren’t supposed to after your Japanese hair straightening process, don’t fret.
You can still save your treatment!
If you forget this golden rule and realize that you stepped into the rain or put your hair in a ponytail only after the fact, act quickly.
Straighten Your Hair Again
The first thing you have to do is blow-dry your hair if it’s wet.
Don’t stop when it’s damp – it has to be completely dry.
Then, bring out your flat iron to straighten your hair again.
The heat will reactivate the thermal conditioning formula, allowing you to change the structure of your hair again.
Some say you need to let the iron pass 15 times per lock of hair to straighten it completely flat again.
If you can, get your straightener really hot at 400-450°F before doing so.
If you have coarse and curly hair, I recommend using a flat iron with titanium plates.
Titanium irons heat up stronger and faster, so it’s great for hair that needs that extra straightening power.
Because it’s so effective at straightening, you won’t have to pass your hair 15 times just to get it pin-straight again.
I highly recommend the CHI Titanium XL 1″ Hairstyling Iron.
It has curved, floating plates that allow the straightener to glide through the hair, no matter how thick and curly.
This titanium iron heats up to 425°F, which is already quite high and is perfect for saving your Japanese hair straightening treatment after a mishap.
Saving Your Hair From Chemical Damage
But what if you’re dealing with damage from chemicals that were too strong, or even expired?
The biggest consequence of severe chemical damage from your Japanese hair straightening treatment is hair breakage.
Your hair can get so fried and parched that it will start snapping off in fragments.
You might also notice more split ends and tangles in your hair.
When this happens, your goal should be to nurse it back to health.
You must feed your hair the right nutrients to get it resilient and elastic again, so it doesn’t shed or fall out.
One of the most basic things you can do to pamper your hair when it’s not in its best condition post-treatment is to moisturize it deeply.
Weak hair is dehydrated hair, and nourishing it intensively will help boost elasticity and bounce again.
That way, your hair won’t be prone to damage.
I suggest doing a weekly deep conditioning treatment for your hair.
One of my favorites to use when my hair is extra dry is the Briogeo Be Gentle, Be Kind Avocado + Kiwi Mega Moisture Superfood Mask.
This mask is incredible at making your hair instantly smooth and soft.
It contains deeply moisturizing ingredients such as avocado oil and cocoa seed butter to nourish and repair your hair.
It’s also free of silicones, sulfates, and parabens.
Every couple of weeks, you can switch out your usual deep conditioner with a protein treatment.
Proteins help fill in the gaps in weak, porous hair.
This leaves your strands fortified and with more structure and bounce.
They’re very useful in strengthening damaged, overprocessed hair, which is perfect if you’re struggling with chemical damage post-Japanese hair straightening.
One of the best protein masks I’ve tried is the Aveda Damage Remedy Intensive Restructuring Treatment.
This mask contains quinoa proteins and lipid-rich oils like castor and jojoba oils.
Together, they work to moisturize and strengthen damaged locks, leaving them smooth, renewed, and touchable.
I also love that this vegan, cruelty-free mask leaves the hair smelling fresh and floral, with notes of mandarin, ylang-ylang, and bergamot.
You might also be having stuff in your pantry that you can use to make a DIY protein treatment.
Ingredients such as eggs, yogurt, and mayonnaise, among others, are perfect to use in making a homemade protein treatment for your hair.
Another way to tackle a Japanese hair straightening gone wrong is to moisturize the scalp.
You see, if you’re dealing with chemical damage on the scalp, you have to focus your treatment on the area.
Some people experience hair shedding after a Japanese hair straightening process because the chemicals were too close to the scalp.
This can leave the scalp incredibly dry, and your follicles weak.
The way around it? Moisture, of course!
Hydrate and moisturize your scalp not only to strengthen your roots but also to soothe any irritation in the area.
Try moisturizing your scalp with an oil to help calm it down.
The Moroccanoil Dry Scalp Treatment is an excellent option.
It’s made with argan oil, which is rich in vitamin E and fatty acids to help nourish your skin and strengthen your roots.
It also has geranium oil to soothe irritation in the area.
And if that’s not enough, the treatment also leaves your hair looking glossy and smooth all day long.
It’s a great way to showcase your sleek, straight hair’s natural shine!
Don’t get me wrong, there are tons of benefits that you can get out of a Japanese hair straightening treatment.
You don’t have to wake up an hour early just to wash and iron your hair, or worry about your mane getting frizzy and curly again with a little rain.
Your hair will be permanently straight, and for some people, that’s more than enough.
If you’re reading this post, chances are that you’ve had a Japanese hair straightening gone wrong.
Even if it hasn’t happened to you, you’re probably thinking of getting one in the near future.
You need to know what could go wrong and how you should handle it after.
So, if your luck runs out and you end up with damaged locks or accidentally wet your hair before your 72-hour waiting time is up, do everything I mentioned above.
It’s a surefire way to heal your hair and not let your treatment go to waste.
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