What Is Japanese Straightening?

By | October 27, 2017
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Does Japanese Straightening Work?


I think that somewhere in time, you might have come across the idea of getting a Japanese hair straightening process done on your hair – I know I considered it once, though I did not act on it. This was way back in the early 90’s. Back then, curls were slowly ‘going out of style’ and ‘the blunt cut or on straight hair’ was ‘in’!

Japanese thermal hair straightening has been referred to by many names:

  • thermal reconditioning
  • permanent hair straightening
  • magic straightening
  • ionic perm
  • bio ionic straightening
  • Yuko system
  • Liscio
  • rebonding

And I am sure there are a few more not mentioned here.  It was thought that the Japanese straightening would leave your hair pin-straight and last until the new hair growth showed up – let’s take a closer look. In any event, we will be looking at what the hype is about!

What Is Japenese Straightening?

Japanese hair straightening is a type of thermal, permanent hair straightening. This process became popular in Asia more than 20 yrs ago. You might wonder about the need for Asians to have ‘straight’ hair when their hair is more often than not – bone straight. Well, like everyone, we all like to perfect what we already have or try something new.

Originally, the process was one where the stylist would apply a perm solution product to the hair and then straighten the hair by stretching it over ‘straightening boards’. This process worked successfully for a few years. However, the end result was a case for frizz and dryness.

The Asian women preferred to do thermal hair straightening for these 3 main reasons:

  1. Perspective – some Asian women think their hair is ‘curly’ as opposed to straight. This can be the result of interracial births. The hair texture may have a soft curl pattern not obvious to the eye, but obvious to the person having the texture on their head, especially being in a culture where there isn’t much inter-mixing between races.
  2. Natural texture – the hair will have multiple textures on any one head. My hair has about 3 different hair texture types, of course with one type being more dominant than the other. The same with Asian hair – there are various degrees of texture (curl) patterns.
  3. Softening – by using the thermal straightener, it can also make the hair feel softer by making it look and feel bouncier, full of movement than just straighter. Of course, the technique would be in the hands of the professional stylist on how to achieve this effect.

How Is The Process Done?

Important points to consider before doing this process. Like any other chemical process, you need to be aware of how it is done and by whom. So, while doing your research, it is important to know four things:

  1. Experience
  2. Training
  3. Professional Expertise
  4. Type of hair texture


You need to ensure that the person who will be doing the process has experience in the process in terms of frequency (how often that he/she has done the process) and on the different types of hair textures that the process has been done.


You need to know about the training that the individual has gone through in the thermal straightening process as well as the line that that particular salon is using.

Professional Expertise

You need to be aware of the stylist’s track record in all facets of the hair grooming (basic cutting, styling) process and also the chemical reaction that can occur when you combine products ultimately in any process.

Type Of Hair Texture

You need to remember that ‘not all hair is created equally’ – different textures will react differently and some may not be a good candidate for thermal processing.

The Process

The base chemical that is the main component of the cream used for the thermal straightening is Thio. This is further sealed into the hair by using a ceramic flat iron.

Before we get into the whole process, we still need to look at a few things:

  • Before you decide to do thermal straightening on your hair, you should get a preliminary consultation with the stylist. At this point, you will be made aware of: the time for the process to be done (around 4-6 hours), whether or not your hair texture can withstand the process, and the after-care or maintenance.
  • You will be advised on pre-process tips/suggestions – maybe not to wash your hair for a few days or pre-condition your hair before your appointment.
  • The first step is to apply a protein conditioner to help strengthen the hair and make it ready for the chemical change.
  • Then a Thio-based cream relaxer is applied to the hair which does the job of breaking down the sulphur bonds in the hair shaft.
  • The cream is left on the hair until the stylist determines that the hair strand has broken down to the required degree of straightness.
  • A neutralizing product will be applied and then the hair will then be rinsed of all the products.
  • Your hair will then be shampooed and conditioned and then desired styling applied. You have to wait for the neutralizing process to complete its job and this can take 24-48 hours and the client is usually told not to wash or manipulate the hair until the desired rest time.


Advantages Of Japenese Straightening

Trying to find the advantages to doing this type of hair straightening is going to be a challenge for me, however, I love a challenge and I rise to the occasion. Some advantages could be:

  • gives the client more time to do other things versus doing their hair – so I guess in some respects, time management
  • strengthens the hair as long as it is done in the most optimal process
  • gives the client a more consistent hairstyle choice – as in, ‘never a bad hair day’!
  • quicker to dry, almost like a ‘wash ‘n go’ kind of thing – very low maintenance

Disadvantages Of Japanese Straightening

This section should be less intimidating for me to find reasons as to why it should not be a very ‘popular’ choice for some people. Having Japanese hair straightening done on your hair can:

  • be expensive – in some instances anywhere from USD$300 – 1,000.00
  • time-consuming – sometimes the procedure can take up to 8 hours depending on your hair texture and length
  • damaging to your hair if not properly maintained after the process itself
  • may cause breakage, dryness, and frizz

My Final Thoughts On Japanese Straightening

Even though getting a Japanese hair treatment may not be next on my list of things to do, I daresay that there are women who would do it. There are so many other healthier ways to straighten your hair As the cliche goes – ‘to each his own’.

How do you feel about Japanese Straightening? Have you ever done it? What was your experience? I would love your feedback.



2 thoughts on “What Is Japanese Straightening?

  1. Brittaney Verkuyl

    I have heard of permanent hair straightening I did not know it had a specific name though. The crazy thing is I love Japan and anything about the culture so you would think I would know that permanent hair straightening is also known as Japanese hair straightening. I personally just go with the regular hot iron straightener, of course with ceramic hot plates.

    1. Michelle

      Hello Brittaney,
      Thanks for your visit. LOL, your candid reflection made me smile. Yes, this Japanese hair treatment is very popular worldwide even though it can get pricey. Yes, going with the ‘normal’ heat/reversible straightening is sometimes easier and surely more cost-effective depending on your budget.
      All the best and don’t use too much heat!


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