Straight TalkJuly 1, 2009 By: Lori Morris American Salon
Senior Editor Lori Morris investigates straightening services, from Japanese thermal reconditioning to Brazilian keratin treatments.
With summer in full effect, many of your clients want to ease up on their daily beauty routines, longing for smooth locks that don't require hours of styling. Lucky for them—and for your salon's bottom line—there are several straightening services and conditioning treatments that can offer them just that.
"We've been offering straightening services since the day we opened," says Hanh Tran, owner of The Art of Hair Salon in Arlington, Texas. "In order to be a full-service hair salon, we must offer what is in demand. These services have kept our salon in the forefront and have kept our stylists' books full even in the recession." Mark Garrison, owner of the Mark Garrison Salon in New York City, said that while the services are popular year-round, they really pick up in the summer due to the humidity. He also stresses the importance of offering a selection of services. "Clients have different needs, so you need to be able to address all of them," he says. "Some want stick-straight hair and more permanence, while others just want to fight frizz and make curls more manageable."
Japanese straightening, also called thermal reconditioning, was the first big straightening craze to hit the general public, and Yuko Yamashita was at the forefront, bringing her hair straightening system to the United States and patenting it in 2000. According to Joe Furuhata, longtime manager of Yuko Salon in Beverly Hills, CA, Japanese straightening utilizes the same process as a perm, breaking down protein bonds within the hair and chemically altering them. In this case, the bonds are broken down with a straightening solution and then reconnected with a flat iron in a straight position. The hair is then neutralized with a second solution to stabilize the pH level and minimize damage. "Japanese straightening is best for strong, curly hair," Furuhata says, noting that clients with severely damaged hair should probably skip this treatment. "It rejuvenates the hair, but it's still a chemical process." The Yuko Beauty System, used by thousands of salons in the United States, Japan and worldwide, is rejuvenating due to a special gold-infused water used in the process that stabilizes the electric charge and has smaller groups of molecules to allow greater penetration into the hair shaft. The system also combines hair-regenerating proteins, such as collagen and keratin, with the chemicals to make the hair healthier. After Japanese straightening, hair will remain straight until it naturally grows out in about three to four months. To preserve the longevity of the service, Yuko sells a line of products containing keratin and collagen.
While Japanese straightening is a good option for some women, others may not want to change the molecular structure of their hair. For these clients, Brazilian keratin treatments, which achieve similar results but can be used on even very damaged hair, are a great alternative. "The Brazilian keratin treatment has been so popular that our clients ask for the service on a weekly basis," Hanh says. "The result of having the most intensive reparative and reconditioning treatment available while achieving a straight, smooth, healthy texture is a dream come true for so many." Garrison points out that because the treatment doesn't change the molecular structure, the regrowth is not as obvious as it is with Japanese straightening. "The hair just goes back to its natural state with no real line of demarcation," he explains.