Hair Care

By Hannah Joseph

Some women have no problem with commitment. These women are the type who knew what they wanted to be by sophomore year in college. They have a steady significant other, and they have no problem going from brunette to blonde on a whim.

I am not one of these women. I redecorate my apartment every couple of weeks, cannot decide on a nail color, and tend to buy shirts rather than pants or shoes because they seem like a lesser investment somehow. I like to wear my hair wavy, curly or straight depending on my mood and outfit. So I think it’s safe to say I like to keep things versatile. But…I also have impossible hair, and it was starting to get in between me and my low-maintenance M.O. After one too many mornings of impossible knots and having abused the messy bun look to death, I decided to turn to a more permanent solution.

The first thing that caught my attention was the Japanese hair straightening treatment. A few friends had it done, and their hair looked perfectly straight. So straight in fact, that when their hair began to grow out after a couple of months, you could see a noticeable difference between their processed and unprocessed hair and they had to use a straightening iron every day and get their roots touched up for hundreds of dollars. Plus, did I say permanent? Next! How about relaxers? Also permanent, with the added bonus of limp, boring hair. (Although the same can be said for the Japanese treatment.) OK, next. How about the Brazilian straightening treatment? Just because you change the country, doesn’t make it any better…

Oh wait, it is better. And here’s why: First, it’s not permanent (YAY!) It washes out in three to four months. Second, while Japanese straightening can only be performed on virgin hair because of the amount of damage it does to the follicle, Brazilian actually works better on treated or damaged hair. It rebuilds your hair with a keratin serum, essentially repairing all damage and giving it a super moisturizing protective barrier. When the hair stylist sets the serum into your hair with a straightening iron, it makes for a healthier, shinier, straighter ‘do. Which leads us to the third, and my favorite, advantage: Although Brazilian straightening does indeed straighten your hair, it doesn’t make it pin straight. So theoretically, you would still maintain body and be able to style your hair wavy when you choose. It seemed perfect! I would finally achieve a more polished look – and if I was so unhappy with the final product, well what’s three months? So I took the big leap and made an appointment.

DEX New York

I chose DEX New York, a year-old salon on the west side in midtown where the property is beautiful and the stylists are renowned and work with celebrities and models regularly. My hair stylist, Naomi, worked on my hair for a total of about two hours. First, he washed my hair to strip it from all the lingering morning leave-in conditioners, shampoo residue and natural oils. Then, he combed it out (which, believe it or not took quite a long time with all of my knots). He applied the keratin serum to my hair in sections, combing it through as it went. After 15 minutes of “set time,” he ironed my hair several times to make sure it locked into the follicles. There was no need to blow dry first, the chemical simply dried under the iron.

My super hip stylist at DEX, Naomi

The process took a bit longer because, as he explained, it was actually an alternative to the Brazilian treatment. DEX NY uses a Moroccan< chemical that is very similar to the Brazilian but has a much more diluted concentration of formaldehyde, which he said proves ultimately harmless to most people in such low doses. It also doesn't require any post-salon waiting time - while recipients of the Brazilian must wait four days before they can wet, wash, or even clip their hair while the chemical sets, people who get the Moroccan done can leave the studio and wash their hair on the way home if they'd like. (Relief - I had envisioned three sleepless nights of lying uncomfortably on my face.) In fact, the only thing you have to do after you get it done is be sure to use sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners so as not to strip away the treatment,

Finally, it was cut, styled and done! The results were BEAUTIFUL. For the first time in months, my hair was untangled, smooth, shiny, light and straight. And it still had body, and wave if I wanted it. It was so easy to manage that I was even inspired to make a little commitment of my own! I have always wanted thick bangs, but could never bring myself to commit to straightening it every day or dealing with the curly consequences. Now I don’t have to! It’s been three days, and I’ve showered, exercised, slept on wet hair, worn it up, worn it down, pinned it back, straightened it and not straightened it, and no matter what I do, it looks healthy and pretty.

DEX New York is located at: 224 W 30th St. To schedule an appointment call: 212-643-3188.

Originally published December 2008
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