I don’t remember exactly for how long I’ve wanted to do it, but it has to be at least 4 years. Back then I was a broke student in Switzerland who struggled with dry and frizzy hair. Sadly, straightening treatments were still pretty much unknown there, so options were scarce and prices far too steep for my humble wallet (if a simple salad at the supermarket costs almost £10, imagine getting all your hair permanently straightened?).
However, this scenario changed when I moved to the UK a few years later. Nowadays, there are countless options of getting your hair reshaped: Brazilian Blowout, Yuko, Milbo Liscio and many more. Since I’m half Brazilian, I’d done the Brazilian Blowout a few years ago when I went to visit my family over there. The results were great, but as with most Keratin treatments, they wash out after a few months. In addition to that, I had to avoid shampoos that contained salt, strongly chlorinated water (aka swimming pools) and the beach. Yes, I had to avoid the beach while in Brazil. I mean…seriously?
So my journey for the perfect straightening treatment continued. I wanted something that would not overly damaging, smooth my hair down and most importantly, be permanent, which let me to discover the Japanese Rebonding Technique.
However, there was just one problem: During one summer, I had started to use a spray meant to lighten the hair, giving it a beach-babe kind of look. Unfortunately, this spray contained bleach. Because I used the spray all the time (and too much of it too, admittedly), I ended up with very dry, frizzy hair that just wouldn’t improve no matter how many masks and treatments I applied. The problem with bleach is that it opens the ‘pores’ in your hair and leaves them open, which makes it very hard for the strands to actually retain moisture. Imagine it like trying to pour water into a cup full of little holes.
As you can imagine, my hair didn’t quite recuperate from the ordeal even after several years had passed. So when I went for my first appointment at a Japanese salon in the UK (it was for a Yuko treatment, which is supposed to give you pin-straight hair), they said my hair was too damaged and it would be risky to apply the harsh chemicals used for the straightening.
After the initial shock, I pretty much gave up on straightening my hair and instead decided to get it back to health first. A few months ago, however, I discovered a new kind of Japanese straightening while browsing for Japanese salons in London online. The treatment is called ‘Momoko‘ and can give you either straight or wavy/curly hair, depending on your preference. What distinguishes this treatment from others is the fact that Momoko claims to be safe for previously bleached/highlighted hair while at the same time nourishing and conditioning the hair so your hair is actually healthier after the treatment. Obviously, I was intrigued. Could this be the treatment that would finally give me the straight, glossy smooth hair I’ve been longing for for so long?
I decided to call up the salon and arrange a consultation. A few days latter, I was sitting on a comfy chair in a trendy salon and grinning stupidly with joy & hope. Ryoko, the hair specialist, told me that she hadn’t treated a case like mine before (a half bleached head were only the outer layers were affected) but that she could measure the strength of the chemical and apply a less strong one to the damaged bits so that it wouldn’t be too heavy on my fragile hair. The confidence in her words and her knowledge about the procedure gave me the confirmation I needed to go ahead and book an appointment.
A few weeks later, early in the morning, I was back for my straightening session. Ryoko had explained to me that it would take about three hours and that I would also get a haircut with it.
In order to ‘reshape’ my hair, I went through various stages that included frequent washes and application of different chemicals and conditioning creams. My hair was also straightened to its new form with a straightening iron, then given a new haircut and finally washed again. It can be a lengthy process but Ryoko was always very focused and confident at all times.
If you are wondering about the chemicals that are used, they have all been tested to UK & European standards and all ingredients comply with the European Cosmetic Regulation 1223/ 2009/ EU. Also, no formaldehyde or other aldehydes are used in their products. A lot of straightening techniques contain formaldehyde, which is believed to be carcinogenic and is banned in quite a few countries, so always double-check and stay away if they contain these ingredients! Initially, I was a bit worried that the chemicals could irritate my scalp or cause a burning sensation in my eyes (as previously happened when I did the Brazilian blowout), but neither one occurred. If that can even be said about a chemical that changes your hair structure permanently, I would almost be tempted to say that it’s quite gentle.
After the treatment was done, I looked in the mirror in awe admiring my newly gained silky, smooth, frizz-less, shiny hair. It was only a second of silent contemplation later that I realised this was not just a ‘fresh out the salon’ kinda hair that disappears once you wash it – this was how my hair is going to look like every day from now on. However, there was still a side of me that was scared that, once I washed my hair, it would revert into its old state or be really dry or even get the frizz back, which isn’t really possible unless the treatment wasn’t performed by a professional.
For the 48 hours afterwards I was not allowed to wash or let my hair get wet, put it behind my ear or even use hair bands, as all these things could leave a permanent dent in the hair. Honestly, this was the hardest part. The fact that I live in rainy and windy London and it’s winter didn’t help either. By the third day, I was dying to wash my hair, as it had started to become oily, which in turn left my hair looking flat and limp. So when the waiting time was finally over, I was obviously quite happy, but at the same time a bit nervous. A tiny part in my brain was still not sure if the treatment would really last or if washing my hair would ruin everything. At the same time, I couldn’t stop washing my hair for the rest of my life in order to maintain the new straight, shiny tresses, so I took the leap and had a shower (am I being overly dramatic here?)
After the shower, I decided to let my hair dry naturally as I wanted to see how straight it would be if I didn’t interfere with any styling tools. I’m happy to say that after drying, my hair was still straight, soft to the touch and shiny as ever! There was no frizz, no dryness or signs of damage no signs of rebellious little curls around the hairline! I was told that for the first week or so, my hair would look very straight, almost pin-straight, but that afterwards it would change into a natural straight, but I wasn’t really worried about that as it doesn’t look unnatural at all as it is now.
It’s been a few weeks since the procedure now and my hair continues being frizz-free, shiny and healthy. It’s like my unruly, dry hair has been completely replaced and there are no signs that would show I ever had damaged hair. I do however make sure to use moisturising and replenishing hair masks (read more about my HG hair mask here) at least once a week and a leave-in treatment after every shower.
For a long time I wasn’t sure if I would ever have healthy, frizz-free hair again because of all the damage I had caused to it and it took me years to build up the courage and finally take the leap into the unknown world of permanent hair straightening. Although there are so many different methods out there now, there is always a risk to it that it might not work or even impact further damage, but I’m glad I did my research and found a great professional salon that offers this innovative procedure. I absolutely love the new look, the way my hair feels and how easy hair care has become since I’ve done it. Drying time tends to be much shorter than before and maintenance and styling also reduced to a minimum.
For those with damaged hair who want to do Japanese rebonding, I would definitely recommend having a look at Momoko and consulting with a professional.
For those who are curious where I’ve done it, the salon is called My Snug Room and located in Soho. Staff there are super friendly and professional and you get a sense that they know what they’re doing, so I definitely recommend it!
Have you ever had your hair permanently straightened or are looking to do it? Make sure to let me know in the comments below or ask any questions you might have 🙂
As always, thanks for reading ❤
5 thoughts on “Japanese Rebonding: The Journey to Straight Hair”
Your hair look great. I am born with naturally wavy hair, so I do get a lot of straightening done. The things we do for the love of straight hair! But it is all worth it in the end 🙂
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Hi Arpita, thanks for your lovely comment! Ah, the struggles for straight hair! Unfortunately I couldn’t even iron my hair as it it’s so thin it only takes very little to look fried, so permanent (and damageless) straightening was the only option for me. It is quite an investment but it was definitely worth it 🙂
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Your hair look really good & healthy now! ( before After pictures) This treatment seems to suit you well.
Thank you for your review! I’ve been considering this for a long time… Going back and forth between embracing my curls and flat ironing everyday while damaging my hair in the process… It’s pricey, but in sure if I do enough research I can find a place that does a great job for permanent straightening ! I’m glad your hair story came out nice and you are loving your manageable hair 🙂
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Hi Kristy! I know what you mean, the decision process is almost like getting a tattoo, you have to be a 100% it’s what you want because there’s no going back afterwards. I did have a lot of days where I thought ‘actually, my hair is not that bad today!’ but these days were definitely a minority, so I decided the straightening would be the best option. It is indeed a big investment but looking back I think it was worth it, as I’m saving time and money on haircare/styling products and I’m really happy with the results! I’m sure you can find a good professional that does it; I recommend reading lots of reviews and making sure you choose the right procedure for the finish you want! 🙂
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