My Brilliant Career

The little girl accompanying her mom to the salon is an age-old tale, but seldom does it lead to a thriving career in the salon industry. Yuko Yamashita, best known as Ms. Yuko, started working in the beauty trade at age 18, but her biggest career accomplishment occurred in 1996, when she invented thermal reconditioning.

Yuko Yamashita (Ms. Yuko), inventor of thermal reconditioning
Yuko Yamashita (Ms. Yuko), inventor of thermal reconditioning

Neither Ms. Yuko nor her parents envisioned such a fruitful career, but now thermal reconditioning is a highly sought-after process. This procedure transforms curly, coarse hair into shiny, straight tresses. Around 1985, she and her salon staff began to express their frustrations with traditional hair-straightening methods because they didn't work well with Japanese hair. That's when Ms. Yuko decided to come up with her own procedure. But it wasn't until nine years later that her vision became a reality, with the help of Phiten, Inc.

After several years of success in Japan, the Yuko System Permanent Hair Straightening debuted in the United States in 1999 and has since made a splash in the salon industry. American hairstylists take pride in being trained at one of the Yuko Academies, by Ms. Yuko herself.


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Ms. Yuko works her magic on a model.
Ms. Yuko works her magic on a model.

This process has even graced the manes of Jennifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow. One of Ms. Yuko's proudest moments, however, is when she was able to boost the self-esteem of a little girl. "She had been teased mercilessly by her classmates for her curly hair to the point where she had stopped going to school," Ms. Yuko says. "But she was able to smile again after she had her hair reconditioned."

Ms. Yuko also founded Yuko System, a Japanese company that manufactures products that promote beauty and health for the hair and body. Yuko System makes two different patented heat irons that are used in the thermal reconditioning process.

Ms. Yuko currently directs the four Yuko Beauty Salons in the world, one in London, another in Beverly Hills, CA, and two in Japan where she trains Yuko stylists. Ms. Yuko's next endeavor is to develop a dietary supplement that can recondition the hair by altering hereditary factors.