As one of the most fashion-forward cities in the world, Tokyo offers an abundance of fashion and beauty options, from the super kawaii to the glamorously sexy. With an attention to detail that is nearly obsessive and highly trained staff that are constantly perfecting their skills, it is no surprise that Japanese beauty salons are internationally recognized as first-rate. From cutting-edge coloring technology designed specifically for Asian hair to the most intricate nail art, a visit to Tokyo wouldn’t be complete without at least one beauty stop.
Though we’ve mentioned why you should try a Japanese beauty salon at least once in your life, for those looking for a top-notch, unique-only-to-Japan experience, we’ve collected the five coolest beauty services you can indulge in in Tokyo.
1. The sparkling water head spa
A luxuriously relaxing service not readily available elsewhere, washing the hair and scalp with mineral-rich, carbonated water thoroughly cleanses the scalp while leaving hair soft and supple. Considered ideal for those with oily scalps, dandruff, thinning hair, gray hair, or those who have noticed an increased amount of hair loss, the sparkling water head spa is said to increase circulate to the scalp, thus addressing a multitude of hair issues.
Salons create sparkling water by combining hot water with carbon dioxide, rather than sourcing natural sparkling mineral water, but the effect is nearly identical. The bubbles created by the carbon dioxide feel soothing and lift away excess dirt and product build-up on the scalp. The result is a refreshingly clean scalp and much softer hair.
2. Steam hair treatments
If you have damaged or dry hair, the steam hair conditioning treatment is one of the best beauty services available. By using an ultrasonic inducer that vibrates at 1,600,000 times per second, deep conditioning formula is transformed into a cloud of steam, which allows the formula to be gently absorbed by the hair. This is much more effective than a regular deep conditioning treatment, which only coats the hair and therefore limits absorption.
An incredibly relaxing experience and highly effective, steam treatments also have the added advantage of ensuring that perms and color treatments are well absorbed, and thus last longer. To revitalize damaged hair, to limit dryness after perming or coloring your hair, or to simply pamper yourself properly, steam treatments are guaranteed to make your gorgeous, silky hair the envy of all of your friends.
3. Cutting-edge hair coloring technology
Japanese companies are constantly formulating new and improved hair products in conjunction with top hair salons to create much more nuanced colors. Currently, there are a wide variety of color treatments available, such as formulas that will create a subtle, natural color, formulas that are designed to maintain color for a longer period of time, and organic formulas. While such color formulas may be available elsewhere, when coupled with highly skilled Japanese colorists, the results are a step above.
Unlike coloring techniques in the U.S., where the desired end result is vibrant and vivid coloring, Japanese hair colorists aim for a delicate, subtle effect which highlights the beauty of the hair itself while making colored hair look convincingly natural. In addition, with Asian hair, there is a tendency for redness to show through when bleaching or coloring hair. The newest Japanese products limit that effect and results in colored hair that looks extremely natural, despite its lighter shade.
Though many believe that Japanese coloring products are too harsh for non-Asians, Japanese stylists often have experience working on a variety of hair types and can dilute formulas to suit finer, lighter hair. A consultation prior to making an appointment can ensure that salons will meet all of your needs.
4. Maid salons
A uniquely Japanese service, maid salon Moesham is, hands down, the most unusual beautification service available in Japan. For those who love the Japanese anime subculture, a visit to Tokyo must include a stop by this maid salon. Stylists dressed as maids offer packages that include a shampoo, eyebrow grooming, scalp massage, hand massage, and a photo with your maid stylist. Unlike other maid salons that only provide café services, Moesham permits otaku fans to be individually pampered and groomed. This one-of-a-kind beauty package also makes a great gift for those who love the maid subculture but may be a little too shy to book it themselves.
For the cosplaying fans, this salon also provides professional wig styling and will ship completed wigs internationally for an additional fee. Those interested in this service can bring a wig and a picture of the hairstyle they’d like to emulate and have the experts at Moesham work their magic.
5. Intricate nail art
These days, you can’t complete an outfit without a killer manicure. Luckily, in Tokyo, nail artists are incredibly well trained and detail oriented, so much so that their work is often considered a modern art form. Japanese nail artists are in particularly high demand, often working with celebrities and collaborating with famous artists to create new, dramatically different designs. From pop art to classic Japanese woodblock print designs, nail artists in Japan can transform your nails into incredibly detailed and meticulous works of art. Many nail salons also currently use the least damaging products for your nails, such as low-impact, non-adhesive gels. Manicures will last for a week or more, and for those who don’t have the time to indulge in a hair cut and treatment, nail salons offer a great way to take a little bit of the Tokyo art scene home with you.
There’s a little something for everyone in this metropolis, from indulgent hair treatments and gorgeous cuts to nail art and maid salons. With the number of beauty services that aren’t available elsewhere, visiting Tokyo without trying at least one of the services listed above would be like visiting Paris and neglecting to try a croissant. The added benefit? Unlike eating too many madeleine and croissants, these won’t add to your waistline, and you’ll leave looking stunning.