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ichigo
February 9th, 2015, 06:29
Not sure if this goes in the Lounge or about Japan. The mods are free to move it where they see fit ^_^

So, I have this problem. I'm African American and have relaxed hair. I've been researching the few blogs that are out there so far about black women in Japan that talk about hair care, but I've only heard of one salon in Tokyo that specializes in black hair. There's a Japanese style of relaxer, but I've heard it's incompatible with relaxed American hair (and I have relaxed hair a couple inches past my shoulders at this point).

I've considered relaxing it myself but I don't want to gamble with chemically burning my hair off with no experience. I'm considering asking someone to help me.

I wanted to learn about people's experiences or if they knew about other black JETs that have gone through this struggle.

Thanks :D

uthinkimlost?
February 9th, 2015, 06:41
The black ALTs I've known best just let things go natural, and started that process before coming. I've seen and met a few that had relaxed hair, but I have no idea how they handled it.

johnny
February 9th, 2015, 06:57
Most of the black ALT's in my prefecture are guys and have shaved heads. The one girl has the "natural look". Sorry I couldn't be more help. I think finding hair dressers for people of African descent outside of Tokyo might be really tough (even then).

webstaa
February 9th, 2015, 09:08
If you can order your brand off Amazon, see if it's available on Amazon.co.jp or Rakuten. You might be able to get it shipped internationally pretty cheap from Amazon.com too. Otherwise, bring a bunch with you and get more if you go home over any breaks etc.

Zolrak 22
February 9th, 2015, 09:11
If you can order your brand off Amazon, see if it's available on Amazon.co.jp or Rakuten. You might be able to get it shipped internationally pretty cheap from Amazon.com too. Otherwise, bring a bunch with you and get more if you go home over any breaks etc.
Wouldn't the liquid rule apply? (When flying)

johnny
February 9th, 2015, 09:13
Wouldn't the liquid rule apply? (When flying)

That only applies to carry-on. Not checked luggage.

Edit: ooh, I haven't checked, but the foreign buyers' club has hair products too.

webstaa
February 9th, 2015, 09:22
Wouldn't the liquid rule apply? (When flying)

Not so much the liquid rule, but TSA might confiscate a bunch of aerosols. They don't give a shit about bottles of shampoo, or hot sauce, or pretty much anything else in a bottle. Although I'd make sure the bottles are all sealed and wrapped up in case they get cracked or leak all over everything in the suitcase.

Customs might have issues, but it isn't likely as long as its in your suitcase and not narcotic.

ichigo
February 9th, 2015, 10:12
Do you think it would be unheard of to bring my own hair products to a salon and show them how to apply it (with my broken Japanese or with the help of a translator or better yet finding an English-speaking hair stylist)? I'd be willing to pay extra if needed.

johnny
February 9th, 2015, 10:56
Surviving in Japan has been a useful site for me since coming. Here is a hair care article they have for people of African descent.

4 Tips to Maintain Black Hair While Living in Japan | Surviving in Japan: (without much Japanese) (http://www.survivingnjapan.com/2011/09/4-tips-to-maintain-black-hair-while.html?m=1)

As for your question, maybe?

Zolrak 22
February 9th, 2015, 11:02
Eh, I just figured they'd have the same reaction fast food's have to changing your order. [emoji28]

Never been in Japan, so what do I know?

Ini
February 9th, 2015, 11:14
people of African descent.



This is the whitest thing you have ever said

johnny
February 9th, 2015, 11:14
This is the whitest thing you have ever said

I just want to be polite and inviting to a new poster who has a good question.

uthinkimlost?
February 9th, 2015, 11:23
Do you think it would be unheard of to bring my own hair products to a salon and show them how to apply it (with my broken Japanese or with the help of a translator or better yet finding an English-speaking hair stylist)? I'd be willing to pay extra if needed.

This is a truly awful idea. You'd be better off having an ALT do it.

ichigo
February 9th, 2015, 11:36
This is a truly awful idea. You'd be better off having an ALT do it.

I figured it would be a fiasco. I'm also strongly leaning towards asking for help from ALTs in the area.

ichigo
February 9th, 2015, 11:38
Surviving in Japan has been a useful site for me since coming. Here is a hair care article they have for people of African descent.

4 Tips to Maintain Black Hair While Living in Japan | Surviving in Japan: (without much Japanese) (http://www.survivingnjapan.com/2011/09/4-tips-to-maintain-black-hair-while.html?m=1)



Thanks! The page is helpful, and this site in general seems very useful.

Penguee
February 10th, 2015, 22:51
Or just go home once a year for a cut and to get to relaxed and deal with it the rest of the year.
Black women usually get a lot of crap for having natural hair here, (same as in America I guess.) Curly haired people in general since few Japanese have naturally curly hair and most have to have it permed.
Expect to be scolded about your hair at least a few times. :/

Zolrak 22
February 10th, 2015, 23:13
https://shechive.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/tumblr_m3qhr4u9br1r100poo1_500.gif?w=500&h=283

?

ichigo
February 11th, 2015, 01:14
Or just go home once a year for a cut and to get to relaxed and deal with it the rest of the year.
Black women usually get a lot of crap for having natural hair here, (same as in America I guess.) Curly haired people in general since few Japanese have naturally curly hair and most have to have it permed.
Expect to be scolded about your hair at least a few times. :/

I've always been warned that my hair may break out if I don't relax the new growth every 2 months or so (because it's so thick). Hopefully by maintaining my permed hair I won't get too much criticism, but I do tend to style my hair wavy so who knows? I don't want to go natural though- that's a whole other transition that I wouldn't want to deal with in addition to the whole living in a foreign country thing.

Ini
February 11th, 2015, 03:46
just Grace Jones it.

word
February 11th, 2015, 10:36
Black women usually get a lot of crap for having natural hair here, (same as in America I guess.)wat


Curly haired people in general since few Japanese have naturally curly hair and most have to have it permed. Sure, but I've known a few exceptions...


Expect to be scolded about your hair at least a few times. :/wat

Most J-people I know are very curious about black people's natural hair and generally just wanna touch it, in my experience. Admittedly, I've not known any black female ALTs well, but the male black ALTs I've known were never "scolded" about their hair, and they all kept it natural.

Jiggit
February 11th, 2015, 11:03
Yeah I've never been scolded for my jewfro

Zolrak 22
February 11th, 2015, 11:06
Yeah I've never been scolded for my jewfro
I could never picture you with a fro to be honest.

Penguee
February 11th, 2015, 11:23
Most J-people I know are very curious about black people's natural hair and generally just wanna touch it, in my experience. Admittedly, I've not known any black female ALTs well, but the male black ALTs I've known were never "scolded" about their hair, and they all kept it natural.
I've known three different black female ALTs who were told that their hair was 'distracting' or that they should 'do something with it' so it doesn't bother the students.
I also know a white, female JET who has curly hair and was told the same thing.

johnny
February 11th, 2015, 21:32
Firstly Penguee, that is horrible. I figure my city must have the sanest schools in all of Japan. I can't see my JTE's ever allowing that crap.

We have a black female CIR. I don't know her well, but she has natural hair. I know that her situation is a little different though.

Penguee
February 11th, 2015, 22:12
Firstly Penguee, that is horrible. I figure my city must have the sanest schools in all of Japan. I can't see my JTE's ever allowing that crap.

We have a black female CIR. I don't know her well, but she has natural hair. I know that her situation is a little different though.

Yeah, it really depends on the school and the 'savory' teachers who work there.

A lot of black women get crap about their hair. It's a really common problem for them, actually. There was a woman who was fired from her office job in Canada because of her natural hair not fitting their 'image'.

Jiggit
February 11th, 2015, 23:18
That seems like a complete lie

SailorZorro
February 12th, 2015, 04:23
I actually transitioned my hair a few years back when I decided I wanted to try for the JET program because I knew it would be impossible to find a place to get my hair relaxed. It actually turned out to be the best decision for my hair, but I'm a bit challenged when it comes to styling it. During the summer when I swim I wear it in two strand twists which I can get to look very neat and professional. I have A LOT of long thick hair, so I don't often take it all down, except for special occasions. I simply wash it in the twist and redo a few at a time as needed.
But, during the school year I wear it straight. My hair dresser is a master with a flat iron and most ppl don't know I'm not relaxed. She is working with me so I'll be able to do it myself and to send me the product I'll need. I only get it done about once a month so I won't need much (yes, just once a month, anymore is too much). There are systems that can assist with transitioning that your hairdresser can start now. Have a conversation with him or her and see what would be best for your hair and your skill/comfort level.
I hope that helps. I can sympathize with not wanting to go natural. Even though I am, most of the styles don't look good on me because of my face shape. You have to find what works for you.
I am worried about my flat iron and blow dryer, so any tips ppl have regarding those will be appreciated. I've never used them out of the country because I've always made sure I didn't have to. Plus the hotels had blow dryers.

ebochan
February 12th, 2015, 05:40
I went natural when I was in Japan. As SZ stated you probably want to start conditioning your hair now and find a good hairdresser who can show you how to take care of it. Most of the women I knew had their hair natural or braided. Depending on your placement, you may be able to find someone in the area (big cities only). I do recommend bringing your own products or checking Amazon.jp to see if you can buy once there. I had issues finding products that worked for my hair.

Penguee
February 12th, 2015, 09:53
I actually transitioned my hair a few years back when I decided I wanted to try for the JET program because I knew it would be impossible to find a place to get my hair relaxed. It actually turned out to be the best decision for my hair, but I'm a bit challenged when it comes to styling it. During the summer when I swim I wear it in two strand twists which I can get to look very neat and professional. I have A LOT of long thick hair, so I don't often take it all down, except for special occasions. I simply wash it in the twist and redo a few at a time as needed.
But, during the school year I wear it straight. My hair dresser is a master with a flat iron and most ppl don't know I'm not relaxed. She is working with me so I'll be able to do it myself and to send me the product I'll need. I only get it done about once a month so I won't need much (yes, just once a month, anymore is too much). There are systems that can assist with transitioning that your hairdresser can start now. Have a conversation with him or her and see what would be best for your hair and your skill/comfort level.
I hope that helps. I can sympathize with not wanting to go natural. Even though I am, most of the styles don't look good on me because of my face shape. You have to find what works for you.
I am worried about my flat iron and blow dryer, so any tips ppl have regarding those will be appreciated. I've never used them out of the country because I've always made sure I didn't have to. Plus the hotels had blow dryers.

The humidity here is a killer for most women I know. 90-80% humidity and you'll straighten your hair and the second you step out the door it'll frizz. Braids are a really good option in the summer. All my friends who have hair long enough to braid, do. The other girl, who is going natural now, just covers her hair.

Penguee
February 12th, 2015, 09:57
That seems like a complete lie

Wouldn't waste my time lying about that kind of stuff. Other black women I know would agree, it's better that they know ahead of time and prepare and hopefully have no problem, right?

There are some slimy teachers out there. One girl was working for Interac, so that explains it, but still.

My host mother has naturally curly hair and when she was in high school she used to have to carry around a piece of paper that gave her 'curly hair permission' because it was natural. The teachers would pull out all the students they thought were violating the dress code (curly hair, skirts too short, wrong sock color) and she would have to show that piece of paper to them every week. Once she forgot it, and she had to sit in the room with the other students as they got yelled at about the dress code. She was so pissed because the teachers all knew she had curly hair since she showed that permission each week, but it didn't matter because she wasn't holding it at that time, so she got in trouble, too.

itsabird
February 12th, 2015, 10:11
There are systems that can assist with transitioning that your [doctor] can start now. Have a conversation with him or her and see what would be best for your [partner] and your skill/comfort level.
written like a true sex commercial. Good on ya.

SailorZorro
February 12th, 2015, 11:27
Thanks bird, I knew I should've gone into marketing. Oh well. Maybe I can still sell that.
Yeah my hair is a bit different in that it can take a lot of humidity (we're talking standing in a steamy bathroom here), but I don't know. I have a couple of options. I suggest anyone planning to go have several as well cuz you know the best made plans and all that...
OP, only you and your hairdresser know your hair, but listen to what ppl are saying about the environment over there. Despite what others think, our hair is VERY different from each other, So what works for one jet might not work for you. Have a plan b, c, and d in place too just in case.

itsabird
February 12th, 2015, 11:30
All of Japan I'm assuming is humid. But especially Okinawa or any islands around it. Just shave your head. best bet. I flatten out my hair with hats etc, but it poofs back up in a matter of minutes outside. So yeah....

Jiggit
February 12th, 2015, 11:34
Wouldn't waste my time lying about that kind of stuff. Other black women I know would agree, it's better that they know ahead of time and prepare and hopefully have no problem, right?

I was talking about the woman being fired in Canada bit.

Penguee
February 12th, 2015, 11:57
I was talking about the woman being fired in Canada bit.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/09/black-executive-fired-bp-hair-ethnic-clothing-_n_4413543.html

http://newsone.com/2867261/rhonda-lee-weather-woman-fired-natural-hair/

Just two examples I found. It happens, dude. It's a real problem for black women. Not exactly sure about the Canadian woman, I read an article a long time ago and forgot about it, only remembering the vague details. But these women are just the two fastest examples I found.

Regardless, black women in Japan should hopefully have no problem, but there are idiots around. Just stand your ground if someone complains about your hair, tell them you are just showing the students other cultures. There might be a real jerk who comments on it, but hopefully most people will be fine about it. If anyone wants/needs advice when they get here, PM me and I can send details for the gals that I know.

Like SailorZorro said, you really aren't going to know how your hair reacts until you get here, so make sure to have lots of ideas!

word
February 12th, 2015, 13:36
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/09/black-executive-fired-bp-hair-ethnic-clothing-_n_4413543.html

http://newsone.com/2867261/rhonda-lee-weather-woman-fired-natural-hair/

I dunno. I'm sure it still happens from time to time, and it shouldn't, but neither of these stories back you up very well. I couldn't find any information regarding the actual outcome of lawsuit mentioned in the first link, but Huffington is presenting a very obviously one-sided view of the situation. People get fired all the time, for good and bad reasons, and there's no actual way to know if the individual in question was fired because some cracker didn't like her 'fro or because she was a complete b*tch. There might be, if we could find any information about whether or not her lawsuit was successful (I couldn't, though).

The second one is even worse--she wasn't fired for her hair at all (even she acknowledges that fact). She probably shouldn't have been fired, but feeding trolls is pretty unprofessional, and it doesn't surprise me at all that her station wasn't enthusiastic about her doing so.

Companies aren't (usually) stupid. They know damned good and well that firing someone for having natural hair is virtually guaranteed to get them sued.


Regardless, black women in Japan should hopefully have no problem, but there are idiots around. Just stand your ground if someone complains about your hair, tell them you are just showing the students other cultures.Oddly, this argument doesn't work after you've shown the students your pubic hair. Apparently that crosses a line of some kind.

johnny
February 12th, 2015, 14:01
I'm certainly no expert on Canadian law, but the story about someone being outright fired for having natural black doesn't ring true to me.

I'm not sure to what extent this is true, but I believe that if a company did want to get rid of someone, they can do say with little or no justification if they pay enough severance.

Now, if I wanted to get rid of a black employee without cause, you had better believe that I would offer him or her three months of salary with benefits and avoid the lawsuits and negative PR.

ichigo
February 13th, 2015, 02:43
I actually transitioned my hair a few years back when I decided I wanted to try for the JET program because I knew it would be impossible to find a place to get my hair relaxed. It actually turned out to be the best decision for my hair, but I'm a bit challenged when it comes to styling it. During the summer when I swim I wear it in two strand twists which I can get to look very neat and professional. I have A LOT of long thick hair, so I don't often take it all down, except for special occasions. I simply wash it in the twist and redo a few at a time as needed.
But, during the school year I wear it straight. My hair dresser is a master with a flat iron and most ppl don't know I'm not relaxed. She is working with me so I'll be able to do it myself and to send me the product I'll need. I only get it done about once a month so I won't need much (yes, just once a month, anymore is too much). There are systems that can assist with transitioning that your hairdresser can start now. Have a conversation with him or her and see what would be best for your hair and your skill/comfort level.
I hope that helps. I can sympathize with not wanting to go natural. Even though I am, most of the styles don't look good on me because of my face shape. You have to find what works for you.
I am worried about my flat iron and blow dryer, so any tips ppl have regarding those will be appreciated. I've never used them out of the country because I've always made sure I didn't have to. Plus the hotels had blow dryers.

Thanks for sharing your experience :) Unfortunately, I didn't have the foresight to plan my hair for Japan years in advance :/

I'm definitely not considering transitioning unless I know for sure that I would actually be a short-lister/alternate, so by the time I'd reached Japan I'd probably be four months out trying to learn about my natural hair which makes me uneasy. The stylist I've been going to has been relaxing my hair for the past 10 years or so, so hopefully she'd be more knowledgeable in helping me maintain my current style. I'm actually pretty good about taking care of it on a weekly basis, but that took me a while to master, so mastering a whole new type of hair would be a disaster. I don't want to be that ALT that looks like a hot mess.

I know of one of my black female ALT friends that has been relaxing her own hair in Japan so far, so I figure it's doable even if there are no salons around. Like you said though, everyone's hair is different.

As far as I know about flat irons, when I studied abroad I found one, but it was lower heat (maybe around 270 degrees, my US one goes up to 450) and it didn't work so well. I figure bringing over what you're used to and finding a power converter may be something to consider.

ichigo
February 13th, 2015, 02:51
I went natural when I was in Japan. As SZ stated you probably want to start conditioning your hair now and find a good hairdresser who can show you how to take care of it. Most of the women I knew had their hair natural or braided. Depending on your placement, you may be able to find someone in the area (big cities only). I do recommend bringing your own products or checking Amazon.jp to see if you can buy once there. I had issues finding products that worked for my hair.

Thanks for the warning.

I'm thinking about asking my hair dresser about the products she uses on my hair relaxer-wise, and with every day care I'm definitely planning on bringing enough stuff to last me for a couple seasons at first. When I was over there I was so afraid to wash my hair because I couldn't find anything that worked (that has happened here in the US though too, haha). In that regard, I was SO glad that I was only studying abroad for the summer.

melonsoda
February 16th, 2015, 13:27
Hi!
I don`t have any expereince with relaxed hair, but maybe these things might help.

This is my second year here and I`m in the inaka so there aren`t any decent hair salons for me nearby. I went home once last year, which is when I had my hair trimmed. Usually, the stylists here will wet your hair before cutting, which reverts the hair back to curly :(

I keep my hair natural during the summer months until it cools down(June~October/November). Bobby pins are a must. Tons of bobby pins!
In the cooler months or for the school ceremonies, I use a CHI flat iron to starighten my hair. I haven`t had any issues with using the flat iron here even though it was purchased stateside. If you use a blow dryer, I would just buy it once you get here.
My coworkers may comment on how curly my hair is but, I`ve never been reprimanded for it.

When I first came, I brought over a years supply of shampoo and conditioner in my check-in luggage. It was DEFINITEY worth it! Hair products are pretty non existent for ethnic hair types. If you do find them, they will cost you an arm and a leg. Good detangling combs might also be something you want to bring. If you use a silk wrap at night, bring those as well.

I use the DooGro line of hair care products. You should check them out if you haven`t already! :)
There is also a product that just came out, I`ve forgotten the name at the moment. You apply it and it gradually straightens your hair. I don`t think it`s an actual relaxer. I`ll look for it and post back if you`d like.

I recommend you to learn at least two hairstlyes you can do on your own before leaving though-- braiding, twisting, putting a weave in, blow outs, applying a relaxer, or straightening efficiently, etc. Definitley ask your current beautician if they could teach you some tips and tricks.

Hope this could help a little.