In light of the recent revelations about potentially unsafe levels of formaldehyde in chemical hair-straightening treatments, WWD Beauty Biz sent our reporters undercover to raod test some safter options.

Awapuhi Wild Ginger Treatment by John Paul Mitchell Systems
Halcypm Days Salon and Spa at Saks Fifth Avenue
New York City


I have long dark hair that has been dried out from years ofcoloring (my first gray hair appeared at age 19!), so I’m alwayslooking to get back to my pre-color texture, which is smooth,shiny, low-maintenance straight hair. I’m at a point where ifthe treatment isn’t going to kill me on the spot, bring it on.I’ve tried the Brazilian Blowout, which was a life-changer,as well as the Coppola Keratin Complex Express Blow Out,also very effective. I’m not averse to those treatments but dohave an open mind to seek out ones with gentler ingredients.I had experienced the Awapuhi Wild Ginger Treatment byJohn Paul Mitchell Systems during the summer, although itwas diffi cult to discern its results, as I had gotten the BrazilianBlowout just a few weeks prior. So I thought it would beinteresting to revisit the treatment and decided to visitHalcyon DaysSalon and Spa, the salon at Saks Fifth Avenue,for two reasons: First, because I didn’t even know there was asalon at Saks, and second, because the JPMS distributor teamseemed superproud to land in 17 of these Saks salons acrossthe country.

Halcyon is located on the bottom level of the store, andwhile it was clean,comfortable and well lit, witha mostlyfriendly staff (more on that later), I couldn’t help but feelstuck in a time warp—from the reclining chairs at the sinkto the Patrick Nagel-esque prints on the wall.

I was greeted cordially and attended to promptly by astylist who would ultimately blow out my hair. She sat medown for a brief consultation to, one, make sure I knew whatthe Awapuhi treatment would do (moisturize and smoothmy semidry, colored hair), and two, make sure I knewthe price of the treatment ($55) and the blowout ($85), agesture that has never, ever been made to me in my entireexperience of visiting salons but one I chose to interpretas consideration rather than insult, merely in the spirit ofcompleting this assignment.

That was the lowest point in my experience at Halcyon,and really everything went up from there. The stylist whowould be performing the treatment came over and was assweet as can be. She comforted me with warm towels, askedif I wanted a beverage and basically mothered me for the next25 minutes. My treatment started off with two washingsof Awapuhi Wild Ginger Moisturizing Lather Shampoo,followed by the KeraTriplex Treatment, a formula derivedfrom New Zealand sheep’s wool, via an ampule (my stylisttold me she used two ampules since my hair is long) and thenon top of that an application of Keratin Intensive Treatment,a superrich conditioner. Drenched in these conditioners, myhair was wrapped in plastic, and I sat under a heater for 10minutes. Later, during the rinse, the stylist talked to me abouthow Awapuhi is much better than other hair smootherson the market, namely the Brazilian Blowout and Keratintreatments, as they allegedly contain formaldehyde. Well,for one thing, the Awapuhi treatment smelled delicious,definitely a plus that no other smoothing treatment I’veexperienced can claim. For the last step, the stylist appliedKeratin Cream Rinse, a formula so thick she had to unscrewthe cap and shake it Heinz 57 style.

After the rinse, she asked me to feel my hair so I could feelhow smooth it was, and it actually did feel pretty silky. Thestylist mentioned several times throughout the whole processthat I should really think about purchasing the at-homeproducts since they will help maintain my treatment. Hermultiple suggestions didn’t seem at all pushy but rather like afriend trying to give beauty advice. The stylist who gave memy Pretty Woman moment when I first arrived at Halcyonblew out my hair and did a thorough job, asking if I wanteda flatiron pulled through afterward, which I declined. Myhair looked smooth and shiny, and upon returning to theoffice, within minutes a colleague commented on how great itlooked. Yeah, my hair did look good, and even better the nextday. It held through 48 hours, not appearing greasy at all andstill smooth and shiny. On day three I was curious to see howmy hair would stand up to a wash, and happily it was smoothand frizz-free. No product needed. I am doubtful AwapuhiWild Ginger will be a life-changer, but I would get it again,perhaps before a special occasion, minus the blowout, seeingthat my hair was so smooth from the treatment that I didn’tneed to spend the money for a pro to do it. - Andrea Nagel


Smoothing 2.0 Treatment
Sam Brocato Salon
New York City

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