When I was offered the opportunity to try a hair facial for the first time I was both excited and left wondering, what took so long? Considering how we take care of our skin and hair in parallel, it seemed like an obvious offering. After all, we saturate our manes with masks just as often as our pores—often relying on heat and steam to make sure we’re really penetrating the cuticle, so why has a hair facial been so elusive?
Well, we’re happy to report the hair facial has officially landed. If you’re in NY, book your appointment now – it’s being offered at the wildly luxe David Mallett salon and is just what the stylist (and probably the esthetician) ordered. David Mallett, which opened just last month on the 5th floor of high-end townhouse boutique The Webster in NYC’s Soho, is the American outpost of the staple French salon. Be prepared to say “oh la la,” as soon as you exit the elevator and the Parisian vibes overtake you via osmosis. With marble countertops, light classical music, and staff who split their time between NY and Paris, it’s definitely not your average downtown salon. My guide to the hair facial, colorist Antony Deliperi, doesn’t even have IG—it doesn’t get any more French than that.
The hair facial is actually the Tokio Inkarami Treatment, which originated in Japan and has been coveted by influencers across Asia since being released in top salons. The Tokio is so sought after because it repairs and plumps your mane while cutting down frizz. Unlike the controversial Keratin treatment or Brazilian blowout, it will NOT change your texture. This is a game-changer for girls like me who have made peace with their curls, but are still anti-frizz and would love to reverse damage. After a bit of back and forth, Anthony assured me that the worst that could happen after the treatment was a possible reduction in volume (which would just be because my curls were finally hydrated). There are two formulas you can opt for, one is heavier and best those with really damaged locks, while the other is lighter and won’t weigh hair down quite as much. We erred on the side of caution for my first go-round and opted for the lighter formula (2S and 3S), which falls between natural and colored hair.
The process begins much like a facial in that prep is top priority. An assistant brushes out my locks (she doesn’t snag or hurt me once, an actual miracle) before we head to the shampoo bowl. While there, my hair is shampooed for a seriously long time and I enjoy the scalp massage of a lifetime. Just like a typical skin facial begins dually focused on achieving OCD levels of clean while boosting circulation, so does a hair facial.
Locks looking dry AF after being brushed out.
The Tokio Inkarami treatment rebuilds hair directly from the inside. “It’s not something cosmetic,” explains Anthony of the Tokio’s affects. Since it won’t change the hair texture or color at all, and is just rebuilding strands from the inside, it gets you back to the hair you were born with without actually changing anything. This is because it is formulated with silk protein and keratin.
The Tokio treatment regimen.
The first step is to the treatment is spraying with Tokio 1, which opens the cuticle so that it properly take in the Tokio 2 and Tokio 3. The mixture is applied by hand using a vibration technique (basically in a chopping motion) to really saturate the product. This repetitive motion makes Anthony feel, “a little bit a like a geisha,” to give you an idea of just how hands on this is. Once the product is fully coating your mane, the steam comes on. The steam opens up the cuticle while breaking down the molecules in the product, so that it can really penetrate each strand. How long you need to steam depends on the quality of the hair—times range anywhere from 8 to 25 minutes, based on your personal damage level. I’m under for about 15 minutes. To give you an idea of what this means, I have some highlights but my hair is not fully bleached—I’m told this is a pretty average amount of time (while 25 min is on the high side).
Steam allows the treatment to penetrate the cuticle.
After letting the 2S and 3S mixture absorb, Anthony removes any excess product with his hands prior to applying the final shampoo and conditioner. The Tokio treatment is unlike a typical hair mask in that it doesn’t just sit on the hair—it actually goes inside the strands, which means there’s no chance of running into any greasy residue after it’s rinsed off. Since the treatment builds up locks, takes up the hair’s porosity and closes the cuticle, it is a color game-changer. Hair post Tokio is stronger and therefore more able to take color—think of how easily virgin hair lifts as opposed to damaged locks.
The Tokio treatment also differs from Olaplex. Olaplex wraps around the hair to protect it, however this can actually be counterproductive during color as a strong level ammonia is necessary to achieve the same effects. Olaplex functions as a blocker during a color service. Instead, Anthony prefers building the hair up and opting for softer ammonia to avoid further damage. “In America, stylists work with a huge amount of ammonia, like 100,” he describes, noting that he won’t go above a 20.
The Tokio treatment hair facia is the gift that keeps on giving. Though it wears off in about 6-8 weeks, if you commit to doing it a few times a year, the results are dramatic. “You can rebuild the hair completely,” says Anthony. The treatment works on all textures, from natural to fine. It’s especially good for ladies with limper locks, as it builds the hair up, adding body. “You’re giving food to your hair so it gets thicker,” says Anthony. Dye, heat styling, pollution—and just plain going through it—reduce our strand size, but this rebuilds tresses so that each hair is actually left plumper.
After my tresses are blown out with a diffuser to preserve my curls, it’s safe to say any concerns I might have had about potential volume loss are totally allayed. My locks feel thicker, bouncy and just all around better. My mane is shiny, curly and moisturized. When I pull it back into a ponytail, it’s noticeably thicker in my hands, and reminds me of my locks at peak thickness (I stupidly hated it at the time and would use thinning shears to cut my own hair) in my late teens.
My locks are fuller locks – and I got to keep my curls – post Tokio treatment hair facial.
I would definitely like to come back for another treatment and keep building on this foundation. I recommend a hair facial for anyone who wants their hair to look better without making any actual change, et voila!