Japanese hair straightening treatment

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One beauty treatment that was developed in Japan is now used by women around the world. Known as Japanese hair straightening, hair correcting or thermal reconditioning, this technique uses chemical creams and flat irons to straighten wavy hair. "It's a way of taking hair that's naturally wavy or a little bit kinky—something that you could blow straight—but just for convenience' sake, you permanently make it straight," Mara says.

In Japan, straight hair is considered "the norm," and therefore, more attractive.

As an African-American woman, Mara says she's had her hair straightened or relaxed using similar techniques, but she didn't think it was common in Asian countries. "We go through a lot to straighten," she says. "I was a little surprised to find that Asian women are also using chemicals and heat to straighten their hair."