Hair Care

By Stephanie Ila Silver-Silberstein

Tivo, Lasik Surgery, and Japanese Thermal Reconditioning. These are just a few of what I consider to be the underestimated “miracles” of modern technology and science. My decision to splurge for the Japanese Thermal Reconditioning Straightening Treatment in April of 2003 was made after much deliberation, having heard rumors of irreversible destruction to my hair. But to my pleasant surprise, my hair was silky, shiny, and stick straight for a good four months and was considerably easier to straighten for months thereafter. Wasting what I’m sure amounted to months of my life spent blow drying my frizzy curly hair into frizzy pseudo straight hair, the ability to “wash-n-go” and have my hair actually look great was nothing short of a miracle. But if you’re in the midst of deciding whether or not to redo this potentially dangerous hair treatment, then read on. Both my hair and I have lived to tell the story (again).

1) Are the rumors true? Many hairdressers have ceased performing the treatment for fear that their clients’ hair will fall out. I apparently haven’t met any of these hairdressers. Instead, I’ve met the ones who scoff at this notion and proclaim that people with hair in far worse condition than mine (I had a few low bleach highlights done in February) have had the treatment done on numerous occasions. Disclaimer: This article is based on my personal experience, and I hereby relinquish all responsibility concerning your treated hair. A.k.a. – if your hair falls out, I am not to blame. For the record, I have a lot of hair of medium thickness that has not been chemically treated, save for the few highlights. I recommend your getting at least 3 reputable opinions before proceeding with the treatment.

2) Is the cost astronomical? Even in the wake of trendy ringlets, women are still putting their names on long waiting lists to receive this treatment and these same women have no qualms about spending $1000 for the coveted frizz-less low-maintenance hairstyle. But let it be known that there are women out there who are willing to brave the shady and super cheap salons in Chinatown or take advantage of relatively low prices (as low as $250-350) at authentic Japanese Hair Salons such as Mannish Salon in the East 50′s. Mika did my hair. She is fantastic and professional. Call her at 212-755-2623.

3) Is it really permanent? We’ll never know if I got some sort of generic version of the chemical treatment my first time around because the guy who treated my hair last year went back to Spain, unfortunately. But I can say that after about 7 months, my naturally curly hair came back. Yes, it was a tad drier than usual but my entire head of hair, and not just the roots of new hair growing back, was totally back to its old ways. However, according to Mika, until the hair is physically cut off, the hair should remain stick straight. In other words, the treatment is totally permanent if done correctly. This includes waiting the requisite 2 days before shampooing or putting your hair in clips and/or behind your ears (doing so can cause kinks). However, you can always get the roots touched up or spend 2 minutes blow drying the roots or kinks if need be – actually, you may welcome the extra body and styling flexibility.

4) Bottom line, should I have the treatment again? I say, yes! Sure, I was nervous about it and had the unavoidable nightmares of waking up bald. Sure, I felt like that Christine Taylor scene from “The Craft” was appearing on my TV screen a little too frequently (FYI, it’s the scene where she’s pulling out chunks of her hair in the locker room). And though I was convinced the first treatment had grown out, I still fretted over the fact that I had color-treated my hair with a few highlights mere months beforehand. I was also fully aware of the whole, “it looks healthier than ever before, but really it’s severely damaged” phenomenon. But I did it anyway. For 5 excruciating hours I sat in that chair, inhaling chemicals, staring at magazine pictures of countless celebrities who “went curly” and wondering why the heck I was doing this to what most people consider my beautiful curly hair! But I did it, and throughout this past month since the treatment, I haven’t second-guessed that decision once. As we all know, the greener grass on the other side of the lake can be oh so alluring!

I’ll admit that I miss playing with hot rollers; it’s depressing to see my checking account a tad lower than usual; I hate reading the many articles about how in style tousled, wavy hair is now (even though I know it’s no easy task to achieve that look!); it’s a bitch sticking to my diet so that my flat hair doesn’t reveal my chubby cheeks; and I live with the fear that someone, someday, will get to say “I told you so!” But for now, I’m sleeping a little later, staying a little cooler, living amidst a little less clutter, meeting friends a little earlier, and most importantly, feeling a little more beautiful! Who can argue with that?

Originally published August 2004
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