Hair Care

By Patricia Wersinger

Hair fatigue. My hair suffers from it. Too many chemical treatments have left it good for the trash. Whatever I do, my hair ends up with the same listless, depressed look. I realized I needed a totally new approach and change of scenery for my poor, pathetic mane.

I started thinking… who are the ladies that always seem to have the most beautiful hair? (Besides celebrities who have doting stylists daily, of course) All the Japanese female tourists I see on the streets of New York seem to have beautiful, healthy hair. In fact, the beauty and hair rituals of the Geishas were somewhat of a legend. This culture had the art of turning hair into alluring weapons of seduction down pat. I decided to look at how Japanese women take care of their tresses and found out that a lot of it is thanks to two ingredients easily found in the environment: seaweed and Camellia oil.

Too little iodine plays a significant role in most women’s hair problems today, say Japanese hair experts. Seaweed rich in vitamin K, calcium, iron and magnesium can provide a fix hair craves. High in iodine, seaweed restores moisture to the hair shaft, improves poor hair growth, corrects thinness and can help with hair loss. Funori has a seaweed treatment that consists of little packages of dried seaweed extracts that are to be mixed with hot water before applying to hair. After letting it sit under a cap for half an hour, rinse hair to see how improved its texture feels. Locks are moisturized and revived all the way to their core. Every kit allows for between 25 to 50 treatments so it is quite affordable too. This treatment is similar to that used by Geishas and it works as a cleanser and conditioner. Available at http://www.wawaza.com

Women in Japan have used Camellia Oil for centuries because it contains rich Oleic acid that improves the texture of hair. It repairs split ends, moisturizes dry scalp and brings out shine. Rich in Linoleic Fatty Acid (Omega 6) and numerous anti-aging polyphenol antioxidants, it has the highest Oleic fatty acid (Omega 9) content of any natural oil (82%). Aya Organic Camellia Oil is cold-pressed from the seeds of Camellia Japonica. This unrefined formula comes in a press dispenser for easy use. Available at http://www.wawaza.com.

If you’re eager to have some great Camellia Oil right away, find Chidoriya’s Camellia Oil at C. O Bigelow. Made in Japan, it is extracted from wild Yabu Tsubaki and made by a traditional oil maker in Kyushu using a hand press manufacturing technique. Just a few drops rejuvenate over-processed hair. The oil penetrates the hair shaft and delivers all the nutrients hair needs to feel elastic, young and bouncy again. Penetrating the hair rather than coating it is key to real conditioning. Available at http://www.chidoriyaworld.com.

Today many Japanese hair care lines continue to use local traditional ingredients such as Camellia Oil, seaweed, soy, rice or silk as active ingredients to combat dryness, coarseness and brittleness in hair. Yuko, a leader in chemical-free hair straightening, has created a semi-permanent, anti-frizz treatment that uses these ingredients as well as wheat and Meadowfoam seed oil to control frizz without any of the harsh chemicals many salons use to relax hair. The treatment is available in the Beverly Hills salon, but the Anti-Frizz treatment can also be purchased online for similar at-home results. The leave-in conditioner uses camellia oil and rice brand oil and the Meadowlactone additive to detangle and revitalize hair. Use it with your styling tools to seal the nutrients even further with heat. You will love how baby soft your hair feels. My hair responded well to the shampoo, conditioner and serum since the products work synergistically to heal the hair shaft. Hair will feel strong from within, not merely coated with a smoothing agent. I use it after I swim and it helps restore my hair to vitality after chlorine damage. The line is available at Yuko-usa. com. The Yuko Salon is at 351 N.Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210, tel: (877)985 6797.

Hamadi Organics, a California-based hair company, uses ingredients from Japan such as soy milk, rice and ginger. The company’s shampoo is called Wash and almost feels like an herb rinse – very little soap suds are created during washing. This is especially good for those of us who like to wash hair often but can’t (and shouldn’t) tolerate more chemicals. It feels like a healthy cleansing drink for your hair. The Ginger Soy Milk Hair Wash contains soy milk that helps to seal in moisture without weighing hair down. Rice proteins strengthen and fortify the hair cuticle. Ginger stimulates and tones the scalp and works as a gentle antiseptic. The Honey Soy Milk Hair Wash contains Ylang Ylang, which revitalizes hair and promotes hair growth and shine. The Shea Rice Milk Conditioner contains rice proteins to fortify the hair shaft and prevent breakage. The unique line is green conscious and calls itself “decadently healthy” for a reason. The company tests its products on actresses in Hollywood, not on animals. Drew Barrymore claims that the line brought her hair back to life and Heather Graham is a big fan too. Available at http://www.hamadibeauty.com.

Another popular Japanese hair care line is Gatsby’s Moving Rubber Hair Wax Series. Unlike gel, the wax allows users to re-shape their style throughout the day without adding water, washing or re-applying more product. Although geared toward men, the product is popular with women who request an extremely firm hold for their hair creations but need the freedom to reshape them indefinitely. Available at Ricky’s stores in New York City or http://www.gatsbyglobal.com/usa.

If you’re bored of the same hair care routine and your hair feels dull, explore other worlds’ recipes. My exploration of Japanese hair care has given me plenty to think about and with these new products my hair has never looked better.

Originally published April 2014
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