No doubt about it, many naturally curly folks, given half a chance, will trade in their ringlets for a walk on the straight side. Although most curly girls and guys love their Mother Nature inspired corkscrews, sometimes they just want a different look and a temporary break from daily curly hair wrestling.
The quest for chemical straightness has been the frizzy hair battle cry for decades. Hoping to temporarily ditch uncontrollable curls, many mop tops have subjected their strands to everything from the traditionally harsh chemical lyes to the current day ammonium thyoglycolates.
Although the modern relaxers and home treatments made by Phytotherathrie and Rusk are much less invasive then the traditional methods, they still require the use of temporary straighteners and blow dryers to get perfect sleekness.
Enter Japan based Yuko Systems with their patented Thermal Reconditioning process based upon the principles of restructuring hair’s protein bonds. This hot new curl busting process has taken the hair world by storm.
This natural cornstarch-based hair relaxing system utilizes a more gentle form of ammonium thyoglycolate free of the traditional relaxing waxes or lyes along with special straightening irons.
Developed in 1996 by Ms. Yuko, the system was designed to create a non-coating, straightening system that uses the heat oxidation process to seal in and rebuild hair from the inside out through a combination of patented chemicals and irons that reach 356 degrees to achieve sleek and silky straightness.
The majority of good Yuko candidates emerge from the treatments with almost perfectly straight strands that can last for many months between touchups. Even better, the Yuko System promises long term freedom from straightening irons and hours wrangling with hot styling tools.
A Report From A Yuko Practioner
I recently received great feedback about the Yuko process from a kinky haired Hairboutique.com visitor who had traveled from Nashville, Tennessee to the Dominic Michael salon in St. Louis, Missouri to have her hair treated by Amy Reed.
The majority of the current 20+ Yuko certified stylists (see salon list at the end of this article) are located in either the Los Angeles or New York areas. Amy has the unique advantage of being the only stylist in the Midwest that is currently certified in the Yuko thermal reconditioning process. As a result of her convenient St. Louis location Amy has many clients travel from out of town to receive the treatment.
Note: Amy is also very gifted working with naturally curly and long hair.
When I contacted Amy by phone she agreed to chat with me about her experiences with the Yuko thermal reconditioning treatment.
Amy could not say enough great things about the thermal reconditioning process even though it is “very time intensive and requires a demanding hands-on process.”
She has worked with other relaxing systems in the past but Amy confessed that she was not all that impressed with previous results that left “the client’s hair feeling thick and bulky and just not quite right”. Compared to her work with previous products, “the Yuko System leaves her client’s hair smooth, silky, sleek and soft”.
When Amy first read about the revolutionary Yuko Systems training program in a issue of InStyle Magazine “she was eager to immediately take the training and get certified”. In August of 2001 she made her way to Beverly Hills, California to the Yuko Systems US headquarters for full training in the thermal reconditioning process.
Amy loves the opportunity to make a difference for her frustrated frizzy haired clients and has been doing the thermal reconditioning treatments ever since she completed her coursework in California.
Amy reported that “the folks at Yuko Systems did a great job with training. They also do a very good job of helping her and their graduates with ongoing full support as well as offering advanced training”. Amy is “comfortable with the fact that whenever she encounters a question or problem during a treatment she can pick up the phone and receive immediate help from the folks at Yuko”.
While the Yuko system provides great results, not every head of hair is a good candidate for the treatment. All of Amy’s prospective local customers are strongly encouraged to schedule a pre-treatment consultation to determine the probable results for their hair.
Out-of-town clients are required “to send advance hair snippets and close-up photos” so that Amy “can determine in advance if they are a good candidate for the treatment. This prevents everyone from “wasting unnecessary time and money”. Amy has had to turn away prospective clients because she did not feel that their hair would benefit from thermal reconditioning.
Since Amy is dedicated to “working only with clients who have hair that will respond well to the thermal reconditioning process” sometimes she has to “turn away prospective clients”. “The treatment is time-consuming and expensive”. As a result, Amy definitely “wants her clients to be happy with the results”. Working only with the right hair candidates is one way of helping to guarantee client bliss.
The ideal candidate for Amy “has fairly healthy, chemically virgin hair, that is frizzy, coarse and at least four or five inches long”.
Great candidates “are the type of people who don’t get great results from temporary straighteners and generally have to spend hours blow drying and temporarily straightening their hair every day just to get it to look decent”. After thermal reconditioning this same client, according to Amy, “will only have to spend 5-10 minutes to blow-dry and style their hair”.
Super short hair is generally not a good candidate for the thermal reconditioning process. This is because the benefits of the treatment will not be as long lasting on short hair as it is for longer hair. Yuko System clients with shoulder length or longer hair have reported the best long term results. Each person who has the treatment will experience different results, however, for many people, the effects of the reconditioning can last up to six months.
The very best candidates have chemically virgin hair that has not ever been colored or processed in any way. Unfortunately most women have some type of chemicals applied to their hair before they decide to opt for the Yuko system. While Amy will consider working with people who have color or other chemicals on their hair, she is still careful about her pre-selection process.
Some damaged or naturally fragile hair may not respond well to the treatments. While some stylists will apply the treatment to fragile or damaged hair, Amy does not generally like to work with hair that may not withstand the chemicals and the excessive heat from the Yuko straightening irons. Each stylist is different and may have different requirements for the type of hair they feel comfortable working on.
More About The Process
Thermal reconditioning is not a simple process. As Amy pointed out “most hair consumers have never seen anything like it before”. Because of the time commitment involved, Amy only schedules four or five thermal reconditioning treatments per week on her lightest work days so that she can give her client her total focus.
Depending on hair length, thickness and overall condition the thermal reconditioning process can take anywhere from three to six hours to complete.
The Yuko thermal reconditioning treatment uses heat to restructure the hair’s protein bond resulting in smooth, straight, shiny and sleek hair. The system is protein-based and uses special Yuko patented straightening irons set at very high heat to seal in moisture once the hair’s cystine bond is broken, allowing the hair to be straightened. Heat actually consolidates the entire straightening process.
Step-By-Step Thermal Reconditioning
Amy explained that it is impossible to describe all of the individual steps that occur during a thermal reconditioning process. This is because even though Yuko recommends a series of processing steps, each practitioner is encouraged to custom fit the steps in the process to the individual hair needs of each customer.
One thing is certain, all customers receive two different applications of chemicals and their hair is flat ironed at least twice. Of the two chemicals applied, one is the protein bond busting chemical formula while the other is a special Yuko chemical neutralizer. The chemicals remain on the hair for various time lengths ranging from 5 to 20 minutes, again depending on the texture and condition of the hair. The chemicals are applied at different points during the multi-step reconditioning process.
Yuko manufactures two different patented heat irons that hold a patent. Some thermal reconditioning specialists use both irons, which consists of a small and large iron, while others only use just one of the irons. Again, this is based on individual stylist preferences.
During the reconditioning process the Yuko iron is applied to individual sections of the entire head of hair. Each section is approximately 1/8” thick. Depending on the thickness and length of the hair, this can take a long time to complete. The Yuko irons heat up to 356 degrees. Depending on the condition of the hair, the stylist may use various heat settings on hair that ranges from wet to dry.
The last step in the process involves a second ironing of the hair after it has been completely dried with a blow drier. At this point the thermal reconditioning process is complete except for the required after-care steps.
The most critical after-care factor is keeping the hair 100% bone dry for a minimum of 48 hours after the process is completed. This can be challenging in terms of bathing but it is essential that this rule be strictly followed. The hair must remain 100% dry. Carry an umbrella everywhere to make sure.
You must use the Yuko recommended products to maintain your straight hair. Amy reports that “the after-care conditioner that comes with the Yuko system is absolutely incredible”.
The thermal processing after-care hair products include:
Challenging Side Effects
One of the rare complaints with the thermal reconditioning treatments is that the hair may feel dry as a result of the chemicals. Whether hair is relaxed the traditional way or the Yuko way, it generally requires post-treatment deep conditioning and moisturizing on a regular basis. The Yuko post-treatment products are designed to counter any drying effects. If you need an extra moisture dosage, ask your stylist to recommend a deep conditioner that you can use in conjunction with the Yuko products.
For the majority of people, their hair remains perfectly sleek and straight until curly re-growth appears at the roots. While there is always an exception to every rule, once hair is straightened chemically it remains straight until the roots grow to a certain point. Depending on your hair, treatment need to be repeated every three to nine months if you wish to retain the straight look.
If you decide to repeat treatment it is advisable that you return to the stylist that performed the last thermal reconditioning process. Not only will the stylist be familiar with your hair and condition, they will make sure to only apply the chemicals to the root re-growth and not over previously treated hair.
So what does all this shiny sleekness cost? Like everything else in the hair world, the cost ranges wildly depending on the location and the needs of your hair. The price can range anywhere from $500 all the way up to $1,000+ depending on the condition and amount of time it takes to work with your hair. Be sure to always get a cost estimate during your evaluation consultation to make sure that you don’t suffer checkbook shock after you have already had the treatment applied.
Is the treatment really worth all the time and money? Salon professionals along with curly haired men and women rave about the Yuko process. If you dream of a life of stick straight locks, thermal reconditioning might just be worth it for you too.
For More Information Contact Amy Reed through the Dominic Michael Salon at 314-721-4230.
Salons With Yuko Certified Practioners (As Of January 2003)*
*To get a current list of certified stylists or more information on the Yuko system, call the Yuko Systems Salon in Los Angeles at 310-550-8850 (877-YUKO-SYS.) Yuko is at 351 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA. 90210.
Note: The information in this article was correct at the time of original publication. HairBoutique.com makes no guarantee to the timely accuracy of this list. For an updated version contact YUKO at (877-YUKO-SYS).
California Salons *YUKO Salon & Shop (Originators of YUKO System) 351 North Canon Drive Beverly Hills, CA. 90210 (877-YUKO-SYS) Los Angeles Area
Artistic Gallery 141 North Atlantic BLVE #109 Monterey Park, CA. 91754 626-576-8838 Ben
Artistic Gallery (Second Salon) 18750 Colima Road #A-2 Rowland Heights, CA 91748 626-913-8828
Estetica 9635 Brighton Way Beverly Hills, CA 90210 310-274-1553 Ana
European Hair Institute 3140 Bear ST #250 Costa Mesa, CA 92626 714-850-9993
Gene Bailey Los Angeles Stylist Note: Gene personally trained the staff at John Barett in New York City. 323-359-7170 email Gene at: You_Go_Straight@msn.com
Hair By NHC 15909 #D Gale Avenue Hacienda Heights, CA 91745 626-330-0055 Nob
Han's Beauty Salon 407 West Imperial Hwy Brea, CA. 92821 Ask For Agustin 714-529-8988 ID4U2000@aol.com Mary’s Beauty Spot 1600 Potrero Grande Drive #6 Rosemead, CA. 91770 626-571-1513 Mary Manage A Trois 8822 Burton Way Beverly Hills, CA 20211 310-278-4420 Gene
Salon Gregorie's 200 Newport Ctr. Dr. Newport Beach, CA 92660 949-644-6671 949-735-7416 Drew
Salon Mirror Mirror 148 S. Solana Hills Drive Solana Beach, CA 92075 858-794-0372
Yuki Sharoni 9960 Little Santa Monica Boulevard Beverly Hills, CA 90212 310-282-5440
*YUKO Salon & Shop (Originators of YUKO System) 351 North Canon Drive Beverly Hills, CA. 90210 (877-YUKO-SYS)
Palm Springs Area
Miko's Day Spa 285 N. Pala Canyon Drive Palm Springs, CA 92262 760-320-6884 Miko or Ken
San Diego Area
Jet Rhys Hair 3846 Fifth Ave., San Diego, CA 92103 619-291-7511 Three Yuko stylists available. www.jetrhys.com
2nd Street Salon San Diego, CA Ms. Crystal Well 760-753-4424 Note: Crystal is a wonderful hair master & also specializes in dealing with long hair. firstname.lastname@example.org
Detour Salon San Diego 760-634-1999 email@example.com
San Diego/Mission Valley 504 Hotel Circle North San Diego, CA 92108 619-295-5796 Carolejt@prodigy.net
Salon Salon 6236 San Dieguitto Road Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067 858-756-0082 Stacey Prida
San Francisco Area
Patrick Evan Salon - New Information as of 2/1/04 Patrick Evan San Francisco, CA 415- 421-1111 firstname.lastname@example.org Call or email for more info. Visit Patrick's excellent website at: http://www.thermalreconditioning.com/
Toshi Union Square Salon 166 Geary St. San Francisco, CA 94108 415-956-4667 Toshi
Harvey C. Salon 111 S. Olive Avenue West Palm Beach, FL 33401 561-832-2944
Vincent J. Salon 3301 NE 33rd Street Ft Lauderdale, FL 33309 954-566-6601 Vincent J email@example.com
Halo Salon 3165 E. Shamowlawn Drive Atlanta, GA 30305 404-816-0005 James Wright
CHOP 500 Ala Moana Blvd Space 2G Honolulu, Hawaii 96813 808-585-7400 Kihan
Maryland La Clinica 1624 York Road Lutherville, MD. 21093 410-828-7464 firstname.lastname@example.org Jayne
Zoe Salon & Spa 701 Russell Avenue Gaithersburg, Maryland 20877 301-921-8801 Lakeforest@zoesalon.com
Beaucage 71 Newbury St Boston, MA 02116 617-437-7171 Dean
Missouri Dominic Michael Salon 8220 Forsyth Street St. Louis, MO. 63105 314-721-4230 Amy Reed
Roni Josef International Salon & Spa 10050 South Eastern Suite 120 Henderson, NV 89052 702-217-8296 Maggie email@example.com
Bumble & Bumble 212-521-6500
John Frieda Salon NYC 212-879-1000 Ty Holbrook firstname.lastname@example.org John Barrett Salon 754 5th Avenue New York, NY 10019 212-872-2700 Tara Gonzalez
Nasrin Salon 3401 Airport FWY #108 Irving, TX. 75038 972-252-1332 Nasrin
YUKO SALON Unit 2, 1 Curzon st., London W1Y7FN (011-44-207) 629-7555; FAX (207) 629-7778
Anju Instyle Hair Care Salon 8296 120th Scott Road Surrey, BC V3W3N4 (604) 543-5993
Additional Article Revision Dates: 6/18/2002, 1/3/2003, 2/1/2004, 4/4/2006