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ask: Does Japanese hair straightening work and is it safe for my hair?

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I have heard a lot about Japanese hair straightening and since I have a head full of curls, I've been thinking about getting it done. We always want the opposite of what we have!

Does anyone know if this is damaging to hair? Could it fall out, the way African hair can fall out due to the harshness of some hair straightening products?

Add a Comment60 Comments

Diane Porter (reply to Anonymous)


At 15, I totally understand how you feel. My hair was also either curly or straight and puffy, always frizzy. Always. And if it was a humid day? Or I had gym glass? Just forget it!!

Japanese hair straightening is very safe when you do it at a professional salon that has done it for a long time. They will have certification from the hair straightening products companies that say they know how to use the products.

Things to be aware of:

1. You'll probably have to leave a depost when you make your appointment. Japanese hair straightening takes 4 to 5 hours depending on how long your hair is, and they won't set aside that much time without a deposit.

2. It can cost anywhere between $350 and $600 for your first time. And touchups for new growth (say, maybe twice a year?) can cost about $300-$450 depending on how long your hair is (and what part of the country you're in, too.)

3. Your hair wouldn't be ruined. In fact, you might love it. But you really have to realize that it's permanent, and that if you ever want to go back to your curly self, you have only one alternative: grow out the straight part and cut it off. This is hard to do for someone who loves their long hair!!

Have you tried some of the products for curly hair that help to straighten it and make it shiny? They can cut the frizz and the puff on a bad-humidity day especially. I like the Bedhead products and I love the Phyto products. Best product I've ever found, hands down? Phyto Phytodefrisant. It costs $20ish for a 3 oz tube or $30ish for a 5.7 oz tube, but the product lasts forever. And it works like a dream.

November 24, 2009 - 9:42am
EmpowHER Guest

um i am 13 and i have naturally curly hair. it is a bit past my shoulders and it takes like an hour to straighten. i want to try japanese hair straightening so i can have soft, pin straight hair permanently, but i am not sure if i should get it or not because if i regret it the only solution would be to cut if off. also i don't want to ruin my hair. any suggestions, please?

September 1, 2009 - 2:51pm
Diane Porter (reply to Anonymous)


If you get a good salon -- one that is established and that has a track record with Japanese hair straightening -- it won't ruin your hair. HOWEVER, you are right in saying that if you do it permanently and decide you don't like it, the only way to undo it is to let it grow out and then cut it off.

Since you are unsure, the best thing to do would be to try a straightening method that is not permanent. Many salons offer hair straightening that lasts about 4 or 5 months. It slowly wears off, so there is no sudden change between the hair you had straightened and your new growth.

One of the things you should know is that us curly girls (and I am one, too) get really used to having a little bit of shape around our faces. We just don't want too much!! Once we go totally straight, we can sometimes feel like wow, it seems like there's no hair there, because it's SO flat and just lies there. So if you do ok with hair products and a flatiron, that might still be your best bet for now.

November 24, 2009 - 9:33am
EmpowHER Guest

IM NOT SURE IF i WANT IT DONE OR NOT !!! But Im eleven and I have curly meduim lenth hair. My mom has always loved my curls, BUT sadly my friends and I agree that when my hair is straight - it's way more pretty. So i kinda needed to know if it's permanent. Or if there is a better way to get my hair professionly straightened

August 17, 2009 - 1:30pm
Diane Porter (reply to Anonymous)


At age 11, your hair still does have plenty of time to change. As you go through adolescence and get your period, the new hormones in your body may change your hair to be thicker, thinner, have a different texture, be oiler or drier, or, yes, have less curl.

At this age, your best bet is to find some GREAT haircare products that help by smoothing your curls out a little bit and making your hair shiny. There's a great website -- -- that talks about all the products out there and what they do.

Wait a little longer before you do anything permanent to your hair like Japanese hair straightening, and here's why: if you do permanent hair straightening, you have to do the new growth every few months, because it grows out curly and looks funny on top of the straight hair! So it's a really expensive and time-consuming habit to start so young. (A touch-up can be more than $300!)

November 24, 2009 - 9:27am
EmpowHER Guest

hi im turning 13 and i am planning to japanese straighten my hair. my hair has amazing curls and like anon. my family rather me not do it . i already reserved a date at the salon to do my hair, but im concerned i dont want to ruin my hair. what things should i ask before i get my hair done? instead of getting touch ups at the salon can i just straighten my own roots? also how will the roots look when they start to grow in? please im kind of worried but i want to straighten my hair because personally i think i look better with straight hair and it makes life easier. so please i need some advice.

July 14, 2009 - 2:32pm
alysiak (reply to Anonymous)

We always want the opposite of what we have!

As a child, I had very curly hair. The longer it grew, the straighter it got, probably because it was so heavy. Now, you'd never guess it has a natural wave, unless you saw me coming out of water.

My daughter also has very curly hair and sometimes uses a hair iron. However, that is very drying and she has to use a certain hair treatment when she irons her hair. While smooth looks very nice and professional, a good hair cut achieves an attractive result.

So, the point is that, a good haircut and taking good care of your hair - and overall health - is, in my opinion, the better way to go. It's also easier, and less expensive, to care for.

July 14, 2009 - 4:10pm
Tina Tran

Hi anon, I'm sorry you are so upset. Like you, naturally, I have sorta curly, sorta frizzy hair and used to be one of those women who religiously took a straight iron to her hair every day. And we are like millions of women -- who have cried over straightening, perms, short haircuts and bad dye jobs that turned our beautiful natural color into something that nature would never create. Is there a way to revisit your hairdresser to find out how you can restyle it or restore some of its suppleness? Maybe you can call her to have her recommend products? Hang in there. I hate to say this because my mother used to say it to me -- but it will grow out and you will have your curly hair back and appreciate it more than ever.

July 5, 2009 - 2:32pm
EmpowHER Guest

Hello, im 13 and i have recentaly got the japanse hair straighting done.i have very curly hair but it was soo nice, my family begged me not to get it because they love my curls but i wanted to see me with straight hair. the hair dresser said that it could either be pin straight like i really really wanted or wavy. i bugged my mom to get it done for like a year and finally when my mom made the appointment. when it was over it took 2 and a half hours and $400!! it looked awesome! it was silky and smooth and pin straight. after 3 days of not washing it on the 4th day i did,, when i got out of the shower it was soo easy to comb through, but when it dried it was wavy and sort of frizzy, it looked nothing like it did when i got it first done. i hate it soo much, and i have 2 wait a year for it to grow out. i have been crying for 2 days already because of how ugly it looks. i regret getting it and also my hair feels brittle. i am crying while im writing this because i miss my curly sorta frizzy hair!!!!!!

July 5, 2009 - 6:53am
Diane Porter (reply to Anonymous)

Hi, Anon. I want to add my comments because I"ve had the Japanese hair straigtening done a few times. Twice the results were like you described. I think the stylist did not leave the formula on your hair long enough. Usually when I get it done it takes about 4 hours (but I have fairly long hair). How long ago did you have this done? It may be that if it's just in the last couple of weeks you could go back and ask her to help you fix it. It should be silky straight even if you just get out of the shower and blow it dry with a brush. Not frizzy.

The times when I have had it done and the formula was on my hair long enough, it always looked silky and smooth, even after I washed it and dried it myself. So there is hope!

If you want to work on controlling it while it grows out, my favorite favorite product of ALL all time is Phyto Phytodefrisant. It is a clear gel that comes in a tube that you rub into your wet hair. It helps it not frizz so much. I used it a lot before I got my hair straightened, and when it starts to grow back in I use it. It seems very expensive -- it is $18 to $21 for a tube -- but it lasts forever because you just don't use very much each time. But it is a huge help.

You can get it at some hair supply stores, call them ahead and ask if they have the Phyto products and if they do, ask if they have the Phytodefrisant (pronounced phy-toe day-frizz-ont). Or you can search for it online. I found it at several places online including

The whole Phyto line is very good for us somewhat-frizzy girls.

I'm so sorry this whole episode has been so frustrating for you. Our hair is really really tough to deal with sometimes, and I know how you feel. Get the Phyto defrisant and work with your hair, and I bet you can get it controlled before school starts so that you are happy with it while it grows out.

July 7, 2009 - 8:15am
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