Japanese Hair Straightening & African American HairQ: I am an African American female that relaxes my hair and plans on moving to Japan in the near future. I have heard that Japanese hair straightening would be bad for me since I use a relaxer with lye in it. What are some options for me? Also how can I find a hair dresser in Japan that has experience with African American hair?
A: You heard correctly regarding Japanese Hair Straightening (also known as Japanese Hair Restructuring and Japanese Hair Reconditioning) being unsuited to African-American women. Not only is lye-based relaxer not compatible with the chemicals used in the Japanese processes, but African-American hair in general has proven unable to withstand the chemical process used.
You will obviously want to find a salon in Japan that can help you get the services you need to maintain your hair, and in order to do that, here are a few suggested resources:
Ask for references from other people in your situation: You don't state what prompts your move to Japan, but if it is for business, perhaps the company has other African-American women who have made the move you are planning. These women will most likely be able to give you advice on where to go for your continuing hair services.
You may also contact the U.S. Embassy and ask for assistance in finding local salons that can help you meet your hair service needs.
If neither of these solutions is appropriate for you, contact any of the upscale hotels in Japan which cater to American travelers. Many of these hotels have on-site salons that are familiar with the needs of American travelers, and even if the hotel doesn't have a salon, the concierge service can advise you on where you can find local salons which can offer the services you need.
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