As I navigate this massive city (Tokyo) that does not speak my preferred language (English), I find it helpful sometimes to search the internet for information on what I need. Quite often the most useful tips I find are from other bloggers who have been here before me and were willing to share what they learned with the world. So, I like to do my part and share some useful information from time to time, on the off chance that it may do some other desperate Googler some good. Fair warning – this may not be of interest to any of my usual readership (read: friends and family ;-0).
Since moving to Japan, I’ve been on a desperate search for anything or anyone that can help tame the unruly frizz that now sprouts from my head. In LA’s pleasant desert-by-the-ocean climate, my hair was comfortably wavy. I used to throw some mousse in my wet hair and walk out the door, and generally my hair would more or less do itself. My hair was tame. Polite even. Now I am in semi-tropical Japan, and what is occurring on my scalp now can only be described as complete mutiny. My hair is curlier than it has ever been, and has this irritating tendency puff up and become a huge ball of Medusa-like fuzzy snakes. I leave the house looking somewhat put together, and if it happens to rain (a frequent occurrence in Japan), I end up turning innocent passers by into stone. Clearly my hair is angry with me, so lately I have been obsessed with hunting for products to appease it.
I got my Mom to ship me a box of various creams and serums from the US – some of which are helping, and some of which just make my hair sticky and frizzy instead of just frizzy, but none of which are really completely solving the problem. My favorite product of all is a $4 Garnier Fructis drugstore mousse. With my devotion to this product, I’m pretty sure I kept the Garnier corporation afloat single-handedly for at least the last 5 years. Sadly, it can’t be shipped here by air or sea due to its unfortunate ability to catch fire and explode, but even that scarce and delightful product is no match for the Japanese humidity on its own.
LoFt and Tokyu Hands are two large department store chains here in Tokyo that sell some hair products that are imported from America or Europe, as well as a larger, nicer variety of Japanese branded grooming solutions that are actually aimed at creating or controlling curls – a hair type that is fairly uncommon here. At these two stores I was able to find Western salon brands such as Wella, Schwartzkopf, Paul Mitchell, and L’Oreal. These products are much more expensive than what I would normally buy, but desperate times call for desperate measures, so I bought a basketful of stuff. I am trying EVERYTHING.
I’ve actually even considered switching from using shampoo and conditioner to washing my hair with baking soda and apple cider vinegar. There are some people (read: hippies….kidding) who believe that hair becomes unruly as a result of the drying effects of the chemical surfectants in shampoo, so the cure is to essentially stop washing your hair. Not sure I’m ready to go THAT granola, but I’m considering it.
As I have been here almost 6 months now, I was also fretting a bit about where I could get a decent haircut. My last haircut was in April or May. My hair is getting a bit long, but I didn’t want to just walk into any salon and hope for the best when they may never have seen hair like mine. Then yesterday I made a fortuitous discovery. While reading Metropolis magazine – a free English magazine about Tokyo – I came across an ad for a salon that bills itself as a “curly hair specialist.” I swear I heard the Hallelujah chorus. The salon is called Nepenji, and it is based in Ebisu. Kiyoko is the name of the stylist with the actual curly hair expertise. Apparently she trained in NY at a salon specializing in curls, and therefore not only can handle hair like mine, but can speak English as well.
This issue of Metropolis also included an article about expat wives in Tokyo, which includes a handy list of spas, salons, stores, and other establishments that are frequented by foreigners and therefore perhaps easier for those who only speak English to utilize, though in many cases, they are on the luxury side and more for the “1%” than for the masses. There are also a few places advertised that offer various straightening treatments to get hair under control, such as the Brazilian Keratin treatment, or the Japanese ionic processes. Not sure if I am ready to go that route as those treatments are harsh, potentially unhealthy, and expensive, but it’s nice to know I have the option here. One salon that does these is A Cut Above. Another not mentioned in the article is called Sin Den, and also not in the article is Estetica. I hope someone else finds these nuggets useful!