Afro Hair & Japanese Straightening

Straightened afro hair
Photo: Rudo Film/Shutterstock
Q: I'm going to Singapore on holiday next month, and I have been thinking to have Japanese straightening done. I have got Afro hair medium course, and I use a mild relaxer time to time.
I have heard that Japanese straightening is unsuited for Afro hair, but I met a few people with worse hair than mine, also Afro, and the results are fantastic! I also heard that the best results are on virgin hair is that true? Part of my hair is still relaxed (the ends) would that damage my hair?

A: According to one of the leading makers of the Japanese Hair Straightening systems in the U.S. (there are only three at this time) ethnic-African hair types are not suited for Japanese Straightening (also called Japanese Thermal Reconstruction) both because of the products typically used to relax ethnic-African hair, and because the hair in and of itself tends to respond poorly to the chemicals and processes used.
I am surprised if you mean to say that you have met people who are of African ethnicity who have had the process. This is strongly discouraged by the makers of the process, and shows that somewhere some salon or stylist is disregarding the makers' warning. You should be aware of the risks involved.
Personally, I would recommend that you NOT pursue Japanese Straightening, especially given your partially relaxed hair. It is HIGHLY likely that attempting to have this service (if you can find a salon to perform it) would have detrimental effects on your hair. Given the cost involved with the process, it would also be a great waste of money.
{Update- February 2011: In previous articles and question responses, we have stated that Yuko Systems did not consider the Thermal Restructuring Service to be suited to African-Ethnic hair types. This information came directly from the Yuko Systems website. In addition, a call placed to a Customer Service professional at the Yuko Systems Training Academy where they teach the process, confirmed and clarified the restriction. Specific wave patterns found in African-Ethnic hair are not suited to the Thermal Restructuring Process and can be damaged by the service if attempted.
However, a recent reader questioned the validity of this statement since the Yuko Systems website no longer restricts African-Ethnic hair and says that the process is suitable to any hair type. I have once again spoken to a representative of the Yuko System Training Academy and once more verified that while their website has removed a statement that they felt was unfairly restrictive (given the wide range of wave patterns found in African-Ethnic hair) the problems with very tightly coiled and very kinky hair types is still at issue.
It is important that you see a professionally trained provider of these services to ensure that you do not damage your hair. Part of the Yuko Systems training is to teach stylists who perform the process how to properly determine which hair types are suited to the process and which are at risk for damage. For more information or to contact Yuko Systems you can go to}