I've lived my entire life with people telling me they want my hair. Blessed (or cursed) with thick, naturally curly hair, I remember being in tears as a child, tugging at my stubborn locks and trying to get them to lay flat while elderly women cooed that they paid hundreds of dollars to get their hair to look like mine. That didn't exactly help. By high school I decided to start the arduous process of learning how to straighten it myself and, after many split ends and burnt fingertips, I finally figured out how to achieve that perfect sleek look, but at the cost of slaving over a hot iron for over an hour everyday. Now that I've gotten older and live according to a frantic schedule, my window of time to get ready has diminished to practically nothing. I desperately needed a solution that could get me to my weekly press events and nights out looking fab, but in a fraction of the time. And that's when, as if he were answering my prayers directly, Charles Ifergan came into my life. A known legend in the Chicago salon scene, Ifergen boasts a staggering clientele of loyalists at each of his four Chicagoland salons, as well as mentors the next crop of Chicago's brightest stylists at his Charles Ifergan Assistantship Program. So you can imagine how floored I was to have him run his genius fingers through my stressed out locks!
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I was picked to try out Charles Ifergan's revolutionary Brazilian Smoothing Treatment, a miraculous smoothing and revitalizing process that breaths new life into weary tresses like mine. I arrived at the Charles Ifergan swanky Oak Street location on a particularly humid day and found it bustling with a friendly type of energy. It seemed like a sort of Cheers of the salon world, where every stylist seemed to smile and know your name. Mirrored walls and ceilings made the entire salon and spa flex and bend, turning it into some kind of luxe-looking wonderland. And at the helm of it all was Charles himself—immaculately groomed, laidback gait and all smiles as he led me to my stylist for the day, Tricia, one of his premiere stylists and instructors at the Assistantship Program.
Tricia explained that Charles began offering the service because, unlike Japanese permanent straighteners or a typical relaxer, the Brazilian Smoothing Treatments are completely chemical-free and therefore do not leave any abrasive or harmful elements in the hair and scalp. What it is, simply, is an infusion of the protien complex keratin deep into the hair cuticle. Heat styling seals the protein into the cuticle which banishes a whopping 95% of frizz and leaves hair soft, supple and strikingly shiny. I couldn't wait to begin!
Tricia wear special protective gloves as she blowdrys my hair, sealing in the protein complex
After prepping my hair with a special keratin-based shampoo and conditioner, Tricia applied the carefully mixed complex to my hair in the same way one would apply color. There was no scalp burning (which I remember from my relaxers of the past!) and it seemed to be a very mild formula overall. While she worked, I asked Tricia if I could still wear my hair curly if I chose, and she assured me that the treatment would not make my hair stay completely straight like permanent straighteners, but it would maintain a sleek, frizz-free state that would drastically cut down on my styling time. Just what I needed! And if I did choose to wear my hair curly, it would work as well in providing a frizz-free, glossy curl. After applying the protein complex, she sealed it into my cuticles by blow drying, explaining that ever since she had had the process done, she no longer needed her flat iron to make her thick waves silky smooth. All she needed was a quick blow dry with a brush, that's how effective the treatment was! I could already tell after the blow dry that something drastic had happened. There was absolutely no frizz around the crown of my head, as was usual after any blow dry, and my hair felt lighter and looked noticeably shinier. I stared in disbelief.
Tricia laughed as she separated my dry hair into sections and flat ironed each one to perfection. She noted that the Brazilian Smoothing Treatment had quickly become one of the salon's most popular services, with dozens of people coming in asking for it every single day. As I watched her deftly smooth out my already smoothed hair with the flat iron, I could easily see why. In less than an hour and a half I myself had become a convert! But how long would this dream last? Depending on how often you wash your hair, Tricia said, it lasts anywhere from 3-5 months. It's ideal to come in after that time for another treatment, though unlike permanent straighteners, there won't be any telltale signs that it's time, like frizz sprouting out all over your roots (I've seen it on my sister—it's not pretty). And the absolute best part is—it's affordable! The cost is dependent on consultation of the length and the kind of Brazilian Smoothing Treatment the stylist recommends. They start at $125.00 and go up to $400.00, not even close to how much Japanese straighteners cost and so much better for your hair!
Sleek, long layers! Is that really me? Charles Ifergan trims my ends to finish up
Look at that shine!
My pampering came to an end with a grand finale-Charles himself came back to evaluate the results. Satisfied with the work, he had me stand up so he could personally dust my edges with a few quick, meaningful snips. He told me I had to use the same special keratin-based shampoo and conditioner to extend the life of the process and welcomed me back anytime in his gracious and dapper manner. After thanking him and Tricia profusely, I walked out into the humid summer air, felt that not a single hair had budged and ran off to tell the nearest person what I had just experienced. Now, almost a full month later, my hair has braved some of the summer's worst humidity feeling just as light and frizz-free as that first day. And as I get ready to embark on the time-crunched schedule of next month's fashion week, I can rest easy knowing that beautiful, shiny hair will be at least one thing in my control. Thank you again, Charles and Tricia!
The finished look- me and my shiny, frizz-free hair (right) with Charles Ifergan and my awesome stylist, Tricia
Want your own life changing experience? Try an amazing Brazilian Smoothing Treatment at Charles Ifergan Salons. The four Chicagoland locations are:
Chicago: 106 East Oak Street
Chicago, IL 60611
Deerfield: 380 Lake Cook Road
Deerfield, IL 60015
Oakbrook terrace: Three Oaks Plaza
17 West 580 Butterfield Road
Oakbrook Terrace, IL
Naperville: Springbrook Prairie Pavillion
2531 W. 75th ST. Suite 103
To find out more information on services or to schedule an appointment, visit charlesifergan.com.
Photo Source: Second City Style, charlesifergan.com, Chicago Magazine