I left Molton Brown Hairdressing for a new challenge in 1998 before Yuko System the pioneers of chemical straightening first opened their Academy outside Japan in Mayfair, London. It was a big decision, but Yuko seemed to be offering something new and something very exciting which interested me greatly.
Yuko Yamashita, founder of Yuko system permanent hair straightening, originates from Japan. She learnt hairdressing /she call it “beauty specialist”/ in Japan, and opened her salon. She had loads of clients with frizzy hair /yes you be surprised loads of Japanese have curly, or frizzy hair/, and decided to help them. “If you want to know why I have focused all my energy on permanent hair straightening, it is because, since becoming a beauty specialist, I have met many women who suffer from unruly hair. Almost all people have more or less unruly hair, and these can become a serious source of worry for women.”
In the early 90’s Yuko started developing her first perm solution, to chemically straighten hair, which took her 2 years to have the first sets. She studied and researched a lot; “I first noticed that I needed to understand the bio-rhythm of hair in order to maintain its beauty. So I started studying the various proteins that constitute hair and their behavior. Just as each person has her own constitution, each person has her own hair quality, and a beauty specialist can understand a customer’s hair and body condition from experience. I can tell what kind of habits my customer’s hair has and what kind of physical constitution my customer has just by touching her hair and head, even with my eyes closed. I can do this because of my tremendous amount of interest in hair and because of having stuck to my own beliefs so far.” In 1994 Yuko partnered up with a Japanese company called Phi-ten, who developed and reformulated all Yuko system products, and after permanent hair straightening become a success in Japan, bought it to London and Los Angeles. Yuko was, at that time, still working in Japan; “One junior-high school student, who visited our salon, said she could not live an active life due to her unruly hair. When she saw herhair chemicallystraightened in the mirror, she started crying with joy. One of the staff in my salon became so worried about her unruly hair that she decided to quit high school to become a beauty specialist. This is the reason why I decided to start studying hair-straightening techniques intensively with a hope to help people who suffer from unruly hair.” So the Yuko Straightening System was created, and perfected and before the millennium it was bought to London.
I was one of the lucky technicians who was able to learn and practice before the Yuko academy, and the Yuko salon in Mayfair was opened. Technicians and staff were sent from Japan, and Yuko Yamashita herself came here to train us on permanent hair straightening. Yuko had a very different view of hair, nothing I had seen or learned before, and learning from her was a pleasure. Without that knowledge I would not see or understand hair as I see it today and what I’ve learned from Yuko Yamashita I use it every day with every client.
When we opened the Yuko systems salon, we didn’t have many customers, but a daily mail article made us fully booked. Permanent hair straightening was a big thing everyone talked about. That time chemical hair straightening /the Yuko technique/ was a very timely process, always two people working on one client, and it taken us up to 6 hours from start to finish. I remember I was asked by Yuko to test the system on Afro Caribbean hair, and one of the models took us 10+ hours to complete, of course with a success, and Yuko was extremely happy with the results.
After climbing up and made manager, I left Yuko system salon and academy in the early 2000s to open my own salon, and I was the first to perform the magical permanent straightening technique = the Yuko system outside the Yuko academy, and the first authorised salon in London. Yuko system and the academy has boomed in the coming years and straight hair was very much in fashion. The main problem was that the products were not allowed us to be used on chemically damaged, and high-lighted hair, and the process was very lengthy. With Phi-ten Yuko redeveloped her products, and came out with many new updates, and currently she is working on a damage free perming solution. In 2014 Yuko Mayfair closed, handing over the European rights to Yuhei, (and his wife Reiko Kanda) a Japanese stylist I worked with for a year, and we still in touch. He always updates me on new developments.
Yuko Yamashita, her views and teaching of the importance of hair condition will always be with me through my carrier. Thank you Yuko for developing this wonderful hair straightening system.