They say a change is as good as a holiday, and that a woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life. So when my long-time hair stylist Shelene Shaer of Tanaz Hair, Body & Nails told me last year that she was about to change my life, I was convinced she was about to fulfil her lifelong dream of chopping my long hair into a lob. Little did I know what was about to happen really would change my life.
Having made the decision a few years ago to stop colouring my hair until the day comes when I really have to, it had been much healthier. My ends were better off after shying away from frequent colouring but I still struggled with its tendency to frizz unless I blow-dried it after every wash – a process which usually ended with me getting so hot and bothered that my half-dried hair would just frizz up all over again. I’d tried several straightening treatments (including those with and without formaldehyde) and although they helped a bit with the frizz I was never able to wash ‘n go without having to blow-dry.
This photo was actually a few days after washing but you can see how much unnecessary poof and frizz there was in the lengths of my hair. When freshly washed and left to dry au naturel, this business started from the crown and just got worse on the way down.
I entered the bustling salon on Corlett Drive in May last year expecting my usual trim, treatment, wash and blow. However, after voicing my frustrations about my temperamental locks and considering yet another partially effective Braziliana, Shelene decided it was time for the big guns. She whisked me away to stylist Bongani Majola, who introduced me to the treatment that would change my hair and my life.
Bio-Ionic (full head from R4800 – R6800, root touch-up from R2800 – R4800, fringe and hairline or crown from R850, and fringe from R500)
What is it?
‘Chemical treatments such as the Brazilian Blow-Dry use formaldehyde and hydrolyzed keratin, which act as polyfiller to create a stocking over the hair that coats and seals the cuticle,’ explains Shelene. This temporarily provides straightness, smoothness and manageability for 10-12 weeks until the coating washes off, which is why you can’t use shampoos with sulfates because they strip this coating, causing the treatment to be removed faster.
The Bio-Ionic is a permanent straightening treatment. In a nutshell, it’s the anti-perm. ‘It uses chemicals to break down the bonds of the hair and confuse it,’ says Bongani. ‘Once that process has happened, your hair can literally be taught how to behave in a completely different way.’ Bio-Ionic uses a natural ion complex (containing 23 naturally occurring minerals) discovered in Japan, which produces negative ions that allow moisture to penetrate the hair shaft. Combined with thioglycolate – the chemical activator in the retexturizing system, which breaks down the bonds in the hair cortex – it allows hair to be permanently restructured and restores its ideal moisture balance. And because this is a structural change – not just a coating – it grows out, so you can use any products you like without it being affected. This essentially means less money spent on expensive sulfate-free products.
Anyone who’s ever endured three hours having a Braziliana treatment knows that patience is a virtue when it comes to getting the hair of your dreams, and the Bio-Ionic is no different. Be prepared for several hours in the salon and don’t attempt to get this done during your lunch break:
1 – After a thorough consultation with Shelene and Bongani, I was sent away to the basin and made comfortable in one of the enormous leather chairs, complete with foot rest. I’m rarely comfortable lying in a chair at a salon basin (is it just me or does the angle play havoc with your neck?) but I always feel at ease in these. First up, a clarifying shampoo was used to removed all dirt, oils and residue from my hair.
2 – The Bio-Ionic Retexturizing Cream was applied to my damp hair while I reclined at the basin contemplating my future. Because my hair is not very curly and I wanted to retain as much healthy volume as possible, Bongani and Shelene didn’t apply the product to my roots.
3 – After 10 minutes (the time varies depending on hair type and condition) my hair was ready to be checked to see if the bonds had broken down sufficiently. ‘When you pull the pieces of hair and release them, they must not stick together,’ explains Bongani, ‘You want the hairs to release in different directions to show that the bonds have been broken. After that, you can begin to re-teach the hair how to behave.’
4 – Once I’d been given the seal of approval, my hair was rinsed thoroughly. No shampoo or conditioner is necessary at this stage as it would interfere with the chemical teaching process.
5 – Next, I was taken to a station where my hair was blow-dried using a Bio-Ionic Dryer to remove all moisture, before the Bio-Ionic Iron was used at around 200 degrees to straighten my hair. Shelene and Bongani ran the iron over each piece of hair 10 times at the root quickly, and then 10 times down the lengths of the hair slowly to ensure the ideal straightening effect.
6 – After all of my hair was straightened, the Bio-Ionic Neutralizing Cream was applied from roots to ends. This part of the process is essentially like hitting the save button on your computer. Until now, you’d been programming your hair how to work in a different way, then the information had been uploading and now you’re saving those new settings.
7 – After seven minutes I was off to the basin again more where my hair was rinsed with no shampoo. Once back at the blow-drying station, a Bio-Ionic Heat Protection Spray was used before drying.
Wanna see the results? Read all about them and the changes I experienced over the last year.
Can you use it on all hair types?
Yes, but bear in mind ethnic hair grows quickly and has such a tight curl that you’ll need to be prepared to touch it up every month or so to ensure it looks good. And while you can use this treatment before or after a Brazilian Blow-Dry, you cannot use it if you’re relaxing your hair as it will cause the hair to break.
Does it have to be applied all over the hair?
No. You can choose whether to have the treatment done over your entire head or on trouble areas such as the hairline, crown and fringe. You could even have it done mainly to the root area to help ease the process of blow-drying or home straightening.
Can you wash your hair straight after the treatment?
No, you’ll need to refrain from washing, getting your hair wet or using clips, pins and elastic bands for 72 hours after having the treatment. You should also take care to avoid putting your hair behind your ears.
Photography Lauren Watters and courtesy images