Straight Talk

With summer in full effect, many of your clients want to ease up on their daily beauty routines, longing for smooth locks that don't require hours of styling. Lucky for them—and for your salon's bottom line—there are several straightening services and conditioning treatments that can offer them just that.


"We've been offering straightening services since the day we opened," says Hanh Tran, owner of The Art of Hair Salon in Arlington, Texas. "In order to be a full-service hair salon, we must offer what is in demand. These services have kept our salon in the forefront and have kept our stylists' books full even in the recession." Mark Garrison, owner of the Mark Garrison Salon in New York City, said that while the services are popular year-round, they really pick up in the summer due to the humidity. He also stresses the importance of offering a selection of services. "Clients have different needs, so you need to be able to address all of them," he says. "Some want stick-straight hair and more permanence, while others just want to fight frizz and make curls more manageable."

Japanese straightening, also called thermal reconditioning, was the first big straightening craze to hit the general public, and Yuko Yamashita was at the forefront, bringing her hair straightening system to the United States and patenting it in 2000. According to Joe Furuhata, longtime manager of Yuko Salon in Beverly Hills, CA, Japanese straightening utilizes the same process as a perm, breaking down protein bonds within the hair and chemically altering them. In this case, the bonds are broken down with a straightening solution and then reconnected with a flat iron in a straight position. The hair is then neutralized with a second solution to stabilize the pH level and minimize damage. "Japanese straightening is best for strong, curly hair," Furuhata says, noting that clients with severely damaged hair should probably skip this treatment. "It rejuvenates the hair, but it's still a chemical process." The Yuko Beauty System, used by thousands of salons in the United States, Japan and worldwide, is rejuvenating due to a special gold-infused water used in the process that stabilizes the electric charge and has smaller groups of molecules to allow greater penetration into the hair shaft. The system also combines hair-regenerating proteins, such as collagen and keratin, with the chemicals to make the hair healthier. After Japanese straightening, hair will remain straight until it naturally grows out in about three to four months. To preserve the longevity of the service, Yuko sells a line of products containing keratin and collagen.

While Japanese straightening is a good option for some women, others may not want to change the molecular structure of their hair. For these clients, Brazilian keratin treatments, which achieve similar results but can be used on even very damaged hair, are a great alternative. "The Brazilian keratin treatment has been so popular that our clients ask for the service on a weekly basis," Hanh says. "The result of having the most intensive reparative and reconditioning treatment available while achieving a straight, smooth, healthy texture is a dream come true for so many." Garrison points out that because the treatment doesn't change the molecular structure, the regrowth is not as obvious as it is with Japanese straightening. "The hair just goes back to its natural state with no real line of demarcation," he explains.

New to the Brazilian keratin treatment market is La Brasiliana, which markets itself as a conditioning agent that smoothes, shines and softens hair while eliminating frizz and increasing manageability. "La Brasiliana gives you the best of both worlds," says Rafael De Sevilla, marketing director for the company. "It makes it much easier to straighten your hair, but you can also wear it curly—without the frizz." La Brasiliana is both keratin- and collagen-based, so it actually strengthens the hair, making it a suitable treatment for all hair types. "Even people with straight hair have frizz and damage," says De Sevilla, who notes that Brazilian keratin treatments make a good add-on to haircolor services because they help eliminate the damage done by the color (the services can be done the same day). While the Japanese straightening solution is applied about an inch from the scalp to start off with and is only applied to regrowth for touch-ups, La Brasiliana is applied from the root to the end every time. Another selling point of this brand is that it utilizes less product, so there is no real odor and the vapor is minimal enough that masks aren't needed during application. La Brasiliana emphasizes how important it is to educate stylists on how to properly do the treatment, offering hands-on certification classes, in-salon education and technical support from parent company Hair Color Research Group. They also teach stylists and salon owners how to promote the services and the company's take-home products that can help the treatment last from two to four months.

Once a client gets a straightening service or treatment, it's important to give them the proper follow-up instructions. For most services, clients should not wash their hair for up to four days following application, although Garrison is starting to use a new Brazilian keratin treatment called Lasio that can be rinsed after 24 hours. It's also essential that clients take care of their newly smoothed-out locks to make the treatments last longer. According to De Sevilla, products containing sodium chloride should not be used, as they can remove the product, and salt water can also affect the hair. For more on post-straightening care, see Kim Vo's column on page 54.


Let's Get Something Straight


For a more temporary straightening solution, sell your clients on these at-home styling products.

1) Joico Silk Result Straight Smoother blow-dry crème makes coarse, curly and wavy hair manageable (; 2) Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Relaxing Balm's humidity-resistant formula locks in smooth hair (; 3) Alterna Hemp With Organics Straight Conditioner repels moisture for frizz-free blow-outs (; 4) TIGI Bed Head Control Freak Extra Extra Straight gets hair straight as a board (



Let's Get Something Straight


5) Rusk Pro Elements Keratin Smoothing Treatment adds strength and moisture for enhanced sleekness and shine (; 6) Pureology SuperStraight Relaxing Serum uses multiweight silicones to smooth hair without alcohol (; 7) Aveda Smooth Infusion Glossing Straightener straightens and adds shine with Aveda's exclusive plant infusion blend (; 8) J Beverly Hills Crazy Straight Straightening Styling Lotion combines comfrey root and botanical extracts with thermal-activated polymers to tame hair (; 9) Biosilk Silk Strate is specially formulated for coarse, naturally curly, frizzy or permed hair (; 10) Phyto Phytodefrisant Botanical Hair Relaxing Balm uses natural ingredients to fight frizz (; 11) Redken Power Tame 16 intense straightening balm slims down coarse hair to transform unruly textures (; 12) KMS California FlatOut Straightening Creme has fig and jojoba to relax and control curls for a smooth finish (