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STEAM: Latest on the Hottest Global Beauty Trend >

Fashionlines Beauty Editor Angela Huff first reported on the phenomenon, Japanese hair straightening this past winter. Every day, Fashionlines receives more than a dozen requests for information about this process. So we have uncovered a second superior source, this time on the West Coast, in West Hollywood, one of our favorite places in the world to shop and relax.

Steam, a new concept in hybrid hair salons, opened in 1999. As you can see from the images, Steam looks more like a chic Parisian nightclub than a salon. In fact, all the beauty stations and shelves are on wheels and can be rolled out when the owner, Carla Gentile, a belly dancing aficionado, wants to host a special dancing event, or a bi-annual bazaar where unusual gifts and designs may be purchased.

Carla also hosts performance art, astrology readings and massage classes. But readers, I know what you want to know about, and that's the Japanese hair straightening treatment. There are actually two types of hair straightening processes that Steam offers, one that incorporates a hot iron and a second that does not. Both processes were developed in Japan and are fairly new to the American market.

The Steam Hot Iron Straight Perm is a multi-process service resulting in "stick-straight" hair. An application of permanent solution is applied to several portions of the hair, one at a time and is immediately followed by the use of a hot iron until it takes. The heat of the iron, combines with the solution, is what directs the hair to relax straight.

The process is also an expensive one and can take anywhere from three to seven hours and cost from $350 up to $700 depending on the amount and type of hair. The results are worth it as it is a permanent solution that doesn't change until the old hair grows out. Carla would also like to remind you that she employs the most experienced professionals, so you can relax along with your hair!

The second treatment is a no-iron hair-straightening treatment (also known as thermal reconditioning) that is less drying to the hair yet equally effective as those that use the heat.

Known as the "Blanche" system, this Japanese technique leaves the hair with a body so it feels as close to natural as possible and not stick-straight. There is a bit of "kick" to the hair which is a subtle yet slightly different effect than the hot iron treatment.

The multi-step process begins with a special conditioner that provides the hair with the necessary amount of protein and moisture needed to sustain natural, healthy hair. The conditioner also protects the hair, even color processed hair, which can absolutely NOT undergo a hot-iron treatment.

Secondly, the active ingredient is applied followed by a 10-25 minute session under the steamer. The hair is then blown dried straight with a special twin or double-sided brush. The use of this brush allows for some movement and natural texture that a flat iron does not.

The neutralizer is then applied to harden the hair so it takes its straight shape permanently. Another shampoo, condition, and final styling complete the process.

The "Blanche" requires a three hour minimum, depending on length and thickness of the hair, and starts at $450. Again, it is a permanent solution that lasts until the hair grows out.

314 North Harper
Los Angeles, California




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