Review of "Yuko Straightening System"

published 14/06/2008 | nina_in_the_bedroom
Member since : 25/09/2007
Reviews : 22
Members who trust : 2
About me :
I'm slightly addicted to beauty products, which is probably the main reason that I'm here; I figure that I could use some of my exciting/disappointing experiences with new products to write some helpful reviews for people!
Pro Straight, shiny hair, minimum styling hassle, more time in the morning!
Cons The cost!
Value for Money

"Go-straight! No really - it is possible!!!!"

Introduction to my hair (pre Yuko)

I have medium (i.e. just above shoulder length) hair, with a heavy eyebrow-length fringe.

My hair is naturally that in-betweeny kind of hair - not curly and not straight (I call it surly in private). It has an annoyingly stubborn wave to, which fails to look good however I wear it. So as such, I straighten it on a regular basis. It is fine/medium in texture and there is a lot of it.

It can be blow-dried straight, by my hairdresser, but it's not something that I have the patience, skill (or arms) to do myself.

I normally wash it, blow-dry my fringe (I have a stubborn cowlick which needs to be tamed before my hair dries), leave the rest to dry naturally and then straighten the whole lot once it's totally dry. This seems to work pretty well, however it is insanely time consuming and BORING - and I am getting seriously fed up with it (as is my boyfriend - he hates waiting around while I spend ages on my hair).


I guess if you're reading this review, then you are probably interested in Yuko straightening anyway and probably have a good idea of what it does… but for those of you who are scratching their heads in puzzlement over this strange sounding procedure - read on:

Yuko straightening is named after Yuko Yamashita who came up with the idea in the early 90's - it is a method of permanently straightening hair. The reason that this straightening system is so revolutionary is that Yuko hair straightening is PERMENANT. By this I mean really, really permanent - it is NOT the same as having your hair relaxed/straightened (like a reverse perm), in which process your hair gradually returns to its original state (a bit like the opposite of when perms fall out/drop).

With Yuko - the hair that has been straightened, will stay straight forever - obviously you will get roots growing through with your original hair texture, but the ends will always be straight.

The treatment works (in layman's terms) by breaking the bonds inside the hair shaft, allowing them to be straightened - and then re-set in their new straight orientation.

Another amazing feature of the Yuko treatment is that it actually improves the quality of the hair, unlike other methods of straightening, which are really bad for the hair. So you not only get straight hair, you get healthier, shiner hair too.

The system does sound too good to be true and, like anything, it does have it's drawbacks - it's a time consuming process and thus expensive (will get into the nitty gritty of that later), it is best performed on virgin hair (most Yuko practitioners won't touch you with a barge poll if you've had bleach near your hair) and if not done properly, it can go TERRIBLY wrong.

Sometimes Yuko is referred to as 'Ionic Hair Reconstruction' (IRH) or Japanese Hair Straightening and probably a few other names too. I've been trying to find out the differences between IRH and Yuko, but with little success; I don't think that they are necessarily 100% the same though.


I did a hell of a lot of research/reading before I finally took the Yuko plunge. Having processed hair (it has been highlighted and dyed many times) I did struggle to find a salon where I could get my hair Yuko'd. I had actually been considering Yuko/looking for a suitable salon for about 2.5 years, before I actually got it done.

I had one appointment at a salon in Buckinghamshire, but got turned away because of the bleach issue. At which point I almost gave up!

However, about 9 months after this, I started looking again and stumbled across a website ( with some exciting information on it - it WAS possible to Yuko hair that had been bleached, if you had the right knowledge.

At last!!!

I made an appointment with the Go-Straight team (based at the Eleven salon in London) and at last I really felt that I was finally on my way to having permanently straight hair.


So - who are the Go-Straight team? Two guys - Christian and Sebastian - who trained at the Yuko academy (whatever that is) by Yuko Yamashita. They have a hell of a lot of experience between them and Yuko straightening is all that they do - they don't cut hair or provide any other service. They opened the first UK-based Yuko salon, outside of the umbrella of the Yuko flagship salon (Mayfair). They are incredibly popular - they treat at least two clients EVERY day Monday to Saturday and there is a two-month waiting list for a Saturday appointment and two week waiting list for a week day appointment.

The Process

So - now to tell the story of my own personal Yuko experience!

It all started out with a consultation - I travelled all the way to London from my Oxfordshire home - for a 15 minute consultation - I am probably mad - but the allure of straight hair was too exciting to pass up. I needed a consultation because of my naughty history of dying my hair - people with virgin hair could probably do without - but if you've ever dyed your hair, you would need a pre-treatment consultation.

The salon, Eleven, was positioned on Blenheim Street - a quiet area near Oxford Street. It was very glossy, with pieces of glass hanging from the ceiling and dark polished wood everywhere. I must admit, I was nervous - posh salons do that to me, as do hairdressers in general - so I felt completely out of my depth!! My nervousness wasn't helped by the fact that I went to my consultation with unstraightened hair - not a requirement, but I wanted the consultation to be as accurate as possible, so I felt au natural was the best way to go.

The consultation was quite brief. Christian examined my hair, layer by layer - running it through his fingers to assess the strength and condition. I also filled out a questionnaire, noting down the treatments I had had and any history of allergies, etcetera. For one horrible minute, my dream was almost shattered; Christian advised that I grow out my red highlights before commencing with the treatment. I must admit, my heart sank, but I kept my composure. However, he then went on to say that, if I had an all-over colour before having the treatment, it could be carried out. He explained that this was because in its current state, my hair was a mixture of processed and natural hair - a weaker solution of chemicals could be used on my processed hair, to stop it from being damaged, but the weak solution wouldn't work as well on my unprocessed bits.

Not even needing to think twice, I jumped at the chance - made an appointment to come back after a month, paid a £50 deposit and went away happy and excited.

In the month following, I had an in-salon colour in preparation for the big day - I went with a nice deep brown. Once that was done I waited impatiently for the big day.

On the day of the straightening, I got an early train to London - I had to be there at 10.00am. On arrival at the salon, I was the first customer of the day. I sat and flipped through some magazines - until I was escorted to my chair, where the battle (straight against surly) began!

Christian and Sebastian (yes, you get two people attending to you!) looked at my hair again, asked me some questions about the colour treatment I had and then began preparing me for the process. This is how it went:

* My hair was washed first and then lightly towel-dried.

* Tiny section, by tiny section a chemical was applied to my damp hair - this took about 35-40 minutes. One of them worked to apply the chemical, while the other sectioned the hair and held bits out of the way. The chemical was applied near the root and then smoothed through to the end. It smelled pretty bad - actually (and alarmingly) it smelt like hair removal cream! Eeek! Then my hair was covered in a plastic bag and I was left alone for about 10 minutes.

* When Christian came to check on my hair - he took a single stand and then began to stretch it - which was quite amazing, as instead of snapping, it acted like a piece of elastic! This was how he assessed if my hair was ready for the next stage i.e. whether the bonds in my hair were broken properly.

* Once my hair was stretchy enough, the chemical was washed off.

* Then they blow-dried my hair until it was almost dry.

* Next came the really painful part - the straightening - it must have taken 2 and a half hours. They both worked on my hair together, with bizarre looking straighteners, with cloth wrapped around the hot plates. It was very boring, and to make matters worse, my hair didn't look too good during the process - as it was sticking out at the front (that pesky cowlick). I was a bit apprehensive of how the finished result would look at this point!

* Once the straightening was finished, to be frank - I looked bloody awful! But straight away another chemical was put onto my hair - this was the neutralizing phase, which re-sets the bonds broken by the first chemical. It was applied in the same way as the first chemical and left on my hair for about 20 minutes (I had lost track of time by this point).

* Once again I was back at the basin, having the second chemical washed off and my hair was conditioned too.

* Next my hair was blow-dried - they both worked together and didn't use any implements at all - they just finger dried it - and it dried STRAIGHT! Yay! It looked beautiful - shiny and glossy and my cowlick was also behaving remarkably well.

* I was bored and had a sore arse, but delightfully there was still more to come. They both went at it with the straighteners again. Not quite as rigorously as the first time, but they had to make sure 100% of the moisture from the wash had been removed from the hair - as water can mess up the straightening process.

* Once they had finished straightening for the second time - it was finished.

Now, in all honesty, I was a little disappointed - the extra round with the irons hadn't improved my hair's appearance at all - it looked pretty bad and my cowlick was sticking out, because they'd had to straighten right from the root. However, I just remembered how lovely it had looked when they'd just blow-dried it - and consoled myself with the fact that it would look like that again!

So, I paid up (£320 in total, including my initial deposit) and left the salon.

I was given the following post treatment instructions:

* Do not, under any circumstances, get your hair wet for 48 hours after the treatment. This is very serious - no rain, no mist, no saunas, nothing wet at all, as it will encourage the wave back into the hair (you can use a shower cap to keep it dry when you wash!)

* No tying up your hair or tucking it behind your ears for 48 hours - just LEAVE IT ALONE SISTER!

* No extra processing for two weeks (no dying or bleaching).

After the two weeks is up, you can do anything!!

The 48 hours took FOREVER to pass! Then, just as the time of washing was upon me - I got the flu! So I was far too ill to wash my hair for another 5 days (yuck!). It really started to look bad! Most worrying was the fact that, because I had been lying down on a pillow for so long, it was beginning to flick out at the ends - NOOOO!

Finally I was able to wash it, when I did, I could immediately smell the smell of the chemicals (this happened for about the first 5 washes and then went away). It didn't feel any different to wash, just the same old hair.

I decided to blow dry it for the first time, rather than let it air dry, because I wanted to see what it looked like straightaway!

In a word - it looked amazing - once I had finished blow-drying it - it was straight, but not poker straight, which was, in my opinion a good thing. Instead of looking like I'd straightened it with irons, it just looked like my hair was naturally straight. It also felt soft to the touch. There was a slight hint of flicking out at the ends, but I was still delighted with the results. It looked so much longer (touching my shoulders, rather than hovering above them). I was a very happy bunny, especially since it took me 5 minutes to finger dry my hair and it looked better than when I'd spent hours on it in the past.

Almost two months on and I am still extremely satisfied with my hair - looking after it is so much easier - I don't dread washing it, and the rigmarole that follows any more! I have used my straighteners twice since my treatment - and on both occasions this was just to sharpen up the ends of my fringe before going out. If I'm feeling really lazy, I can leave it to completely air-dry and it still looks good enough to go out without a hat!

This will undoubtedly sound a bit over the top - but having my hair Yuko'd has really changed my life. I can wash my hair in the morning before work - blow dry my fringe in 3 minutes (cowlicks can't be cured by Yuko unfortunately!) and leave the rest to dry naturally - and it looks beautiful, shiny, straight and just wonderful. When I go out, I have more time to spend on my make-up and more time for pre-pub drinks with my boyfriend - rather than locking myself in my room while I blow-dry and straighten, I can now be sipping a glass of Chardonnay!

Does it need any special after-care?

In a word - yes and no; Yuko make special shampoo and conditioners, which are 'recommended' for use as part of your aftercare routine. But in reality it is also fine to use your normal shampoo and condition if you wish. Having said that, I brought the special Yuko shampoo and conditioner for coloured hair, because I thought after spending so much cash to get my hair looking straight - I wanted to look after it in the best possible way. The shampoo and conditioner are really nice, but I don't use them every time - I alternate them with my normal shampoo, to help them last longer. There are no other special aftercare instructions - so it's pretty hassle free, once you've gone through the initial hassle of getting it done! You can buy the shampoo and conditioner from too, so if you run out inbetween visits, you don't have to go back to the salon.

Colour lock shampoo - £14.00 for 300ml
Colour lock conditioner - £14.00 for 240ml

When will I need to have it done again?

Well, that is really up to me! It just depends on re-growth and the length of your hair. The longer your hair is, the less frequently you will need to have the treatment repeated. I am growing my hair to help make the treatment last longer. I'm hoping to make it to around 8 months to a year before I'll need to get my re-growth done, but I will just have to wait and see. Unfortunately re-growth treatment costs the same amount as having your whole head done, because it takes just as long. I can't visibly see any evidence of re-growth yet, which is a good sign.

Points to consider

* The cost! Damn, it's expensive. Mine cost £320 - and the minimum cost (with the Go-straight guys) is £300, the maximum is £420 (it all depends on the length and thickness of your hair). I am anticipating paying more next time, as my hair will be longer, but I have already started to save some money towards my next treatment. I really have found that the treatment has been worth every penny so far, which may be hard to believe, but it's true. The amount of time I save every day is worth it alone!

* Finding a reputable Yuko salon. I have read some horror story reviews about Yuko in the past - but I fully believe that if you go to a good salon, with a good reputation, then you will be OK. A good salon would never risk their reputation by treating your hair if they weren't sure that it was safe. Which is why I chose Go-Straight - they have an amazing reputation, so I felt safe and the end result goes to show that I was safe. I can't recommend them enough! I would recommend using them, or perhaps the official Yuko Salon in London. Reputable practitioners are always going to be more expensive than cheap fly-by-night types, and quite a lot of the horror stories I've read started out with the words: I got a friend of a friend to do it cheap…

* Consider the look you're after. My hair isn't poker straight. Before I was Yuko'd I thought that it would be - but in hindsight I'm glad that it isn't. It looks better this way. But if you're in the market for super, super straight hair, I'm not sure that this process will necessarily be right for you. That said, I have seen before and after photos of people, whose hair has looked straighter than mine, so perhaps some of the pre-processing of my hair has stopped it from being quite as straight as virgin hair.


The only complaint I would have about the Go-Straight guys is that they really didn't seem very friendly. They didn't speak to me very much and I'm quite shy around strangers and as such found it hard to strike up a conversation. I felt somewhat uncomfortable during the process because of the silence, mainly because I didn't want to appear rude, but I didn't know what to say. On this subject, they didn't really explain the process as they were going along as much as I might have liked - but I had faith, so I just sat there and trusted that it was all going well.

Really though, this is just a minor complain - my hair is fabulous and that was the real reason I was there. I'm sure that if you were a chatty confident person you would have been able to chat away to them quite happily; it was probably more a side effect of me being a bit socially retarded.

Other notes

As I previously said, I have read endless reviews and accounts of Yuko straightening and as such, I'd built up a strong idea of what it would be like in my head. I read one particular review, where the reviewer had gone to Go-Straight too - and she described the process in quite a lot of detail. However, when I had my hair straightened, certain aspects of the process were different - which frightened me at the time, but I guess they vary the process according to your hair type. So this is just to say - if you go to have your hair Yuko'd and you're treatment isn't exactly as I've detailed in this review - don't be alarmed.

Would I recommend the process?

I certainly would! If you hate your hair in its natural state and also resent the amount of time it takes to style it - then yes, I would recommend this system to you. I would also recommend Go-Straight team for their skill and expertise, if not their conversational skills.

I realise that many people will be gasping at the cost of this system, or branding me as vain and shallow for being prepared to spend this much money on what is essentially a beauty treatment, but in all honesty - I don't really care.

As I've said before, it's changed my life for the better - I feel more confident about my appearance these days - I'm genuinely not a very high maintenance girl and now I can spend more time getting on with non-high maintenance activities!!

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Comments on this review

  • MurkyDismal published 25/03/2009
    Sounds fab but I'd rather spend my spare cash on extensions. x
  • Raye0274 published 02/03/2009
    Incredibly detailed description. This is something I would love to be able to do this but the cost is prohibitive. Really pleased it worked for you.
  • rachael23 published 21/07/2008
    great review, not for me though as I like to have the option to go straight or curly!
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