My Brazilian Keratin Hair Treatment 

The hardest part about living in China as a black woman or a woman with curly hair is what do we do with our hair. Many of the Chinese salons have no clue what to do with Afro textured hair or curly hair. Caucasian friend’s also complain that they can’t get a decent hair color or cut at many Chinese salons. So expats are at a huge disadvantage.  Many of the smaller cities like Hangzhou and Nanchang don’t have expat salons. So where is a Laowai to go???  To the Mecca Shanghai if you live in south China. Other big cities like Beijing, Hong Kong , Shenzhen and Guangzhou also have expats salons.  So my advice if you are a foreigner looking to move to China move in at lease 1-2 hours fast train ride away from a mega Chinese city.

When I lived in Nanchang, I was about 3-4 hours away from Shanghai. So I did my best and tried to care for my hair the best that I could. I am a natural meaning that I do not put chemicals in my hair. I have been a natural for 5 years. It has been a challenge. It especially is a challenge in China. Due to the water and lack of quality products my hair wasn’t looking too pretty.  Also many people mistaked me for a man. So, I wigged it but I never really felt authentic. I was always paranoid that someone would snatch my wig off my hair. Finally I just got braids. I think braids suit me but I noticed some hair loss also I felt fake too. My friend Yllen and Lele already received the keratin treatments and raved about it.

I missed having straight hair. I haven’t had staight hair for 6-7 years. I mostly wore braids in my hair for 2 years prior to embracing my natural Afro textured hair. My hair hates relaxers. My hair would always break off and would look dry and brittle. It never grew past chin length.

Honestly some naturals have beautiful curl patterns and have moisturized locks. That isn’t true for me. My hair was dry and frizzy.  I tried all the methods too. To no avail. The amount of time and the type of products were not available in China or were but very expensive. So after I saw the wonderful results of Lele, I decided that I had to get it done.

I made the trek from Hangzhou Dong to Shanghai Hongqiao station. It was about a 45 minute trip. Then I I took the 10 line to South Shaanxi exit. I had to follow the signs for 1 line go outside and then enter the 1 station to find exit 4. I know very confusing!! Shout out to my girl Yllen that stayed on the phone with my lost arse even though she was busy at work. I have zero sense of direction. I need a Gps chip to be installed in my brain!!

So I finally found Studio Ebony, it is in an apartment complex. If you want to go there email me and I will have Yllen give you directions. I was 15 minute late for my appointment.  I met India , who is also an American expat like me. In fact she is a fellow New Yorker. A Brooklyn girl! It was so nice to hear her slight New York accent. I don’t meet many New York expats.

India in an awesome stylist. She is very knowledgeable in her trade and extremely professional. In fact during every phase of The Brazilian Keratin Treatment (BKT) she explained each part of the process. This was a first with me. Even in the USA, I never had a stylist do that. India has about 20 years experience. She worked in a salon in Manhattan.


Phase One

India examined my hair and damage level. I have not really have taken care of my hair since coming to China.  I kinda ignored Bathsheba( my hair) and hid her.  Due to the thickness of my hair I had to pay more because it would take more time and product. This I am use to that , I take after The McDowells we have thick heads of hair!

India washed my hair with sulfate free shampoo. Then she blew it out with a hairdryer and a brush. I am amazed when I see stylist do that. It was longer than I thought!


Phase Two

Then she put the keratin in my hair. Keratin is an amino acid and is not a chemical like a relaxer. So it is an all natural  protein. I sat with the keratin in my hair for a bit. She  rinsed my hair and blew it out.  I noticed that my hair texture was looser but Afro textured India explained that high heat is required to seal in the keratin and make the hair straight. Omg I was so overwhelmed when I saw how long and straight my hair was! I had to hold  back the tears. I kept repeating “Is this my hair? Is this my hair?” The length and the straightness was never acheived like that with a relaxer. I felt my scalp!!!! I was able to run my fingers through my hair. to a black girl this is such any amazing experience. Oh and the length. I have never seen it.

India explained that due to hair damage and split ends she would have to cut. She told me that she was planning to do an elongated bob. She only took and inch and a half off.  I was so scared my hair would be very short. I had so much shrinkage that I had no clue to my hair’s true length.

Phase Three


After the cut India applied another part of the Keratin treatment that would add shine and strengthen my hair. It smelled really good. India told the keratin product  line  she used was called Sweet Hair. I sat with the product on my hair then it was rinsed. My curl pattern was even looser it was maybe a 3b/c.  That front was even straighter. It was so easy and quick for her to blowout my hair. Then she did the final flatiron. Wow the shine and it felt so soft. I could barely recognize myself. It was the first time since coming to China that I felt beautiful. the Chinese men that saw me reaffirmed that. I got hey baby looks and not what is that looks. The best the was the wind blew my hair and it went back into place.  At home I was in front of the mirror and did the “white girl” hair flip and singing “I Feel Pretty” from Westside Story.




Everytime I wash my hair I have to use sulfate free shampoo and conditioner. I also have to blowout on high heat and use a flatiron. Since Oreo ate the cord to the flatiron that I bought from the U.S. I bought one from Studio Ebony it is from Japan and it was the same one India used on me. For naturals using high heat was a big no no but with the keratin process it is essential to unlock the straightening agent. Also with a keratin the more you get it the straighter it becomes. So I am a convert and love my hair,


If you are in the vicinity of Shanghai I strongly recommend coming Studio Ebony. So if you live in Zheijiang, Jiansu , Jiangxi, or Anhui province it is well worth the trip on the fast train. Ask for India she is the best. She specializes in all hair types.

Here is India’s weixin

16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ray H
    Mar 27, 2015 @ 02:55:37

    Have you ever been to Guangzhou? They have a big African community there.


    • aquariusamber
      Mar 27, 2015 @ 03:03:22

      No I haven’t , I have heard mixed things on how they treat Africans there so it is not on my list of places to go. Also remember, I am an American not African totally different culture. That being said they have hair products that would work well for my hair type.


      • Ray H
        Mar 27, 2015 @ 03:20:45

        My black American friend visited me when I lived in GZ and he liked it a lot. It’s true that Africans are somewhat discriminated against, (perhaps even getting worse last few years, unfortunately) but in China people are usually cordial all around. Being American firstmost one should be techinically fine. But all things do depend.

        Anyway, I just suggested he get a haircut while in town but he only visited me for a week so not really necessary!

      • aquariusamber
        Mar 27, 2015 @ 03:47:24

        Ray H, visit Nanchang and Yiwu and rethink that Chinese cordial response. Lol!!! I have had both good and bad experiences in China. I do believe overall people are good. This is another post that I am working on. I need more time to do some person research

    • Margaret
      Feb 10, 2018 @ 17:45:21

      Yes I have been to Guangzhou but I had no friend to take me to the places, I love Guangzhou very much, I’m looking for friends in who knows the place very well.
      So please get in touch.


  2. Ms. P
    Mar 30, 2015 @ 07:35:34

    Your hair looks beautiful! Although I plan to keep my natural hair while abroad, it’s nice to know there is an alternative if I decide I want to try something different!


    • aquariusamber
      Mar 30, 2015 @ 07:43:20

      My hair is still natural keratin is a protein not a chemical. It is really hard to upkeep natural hair here in China. Though the ladies teaching in South Korea appear to have an easier time. They sell some natural products on Taobao here but the hair salons that cater to black hair is few and far between. I would suggest having a reliable person ship you products. I didn’t have that back home. Also bring a suitcase just filled with hair products.


  3. autumnashbough
    May 15, 2015 @ 16:27:10

    So shiny! That’s impressive hair. Never thought about how much work hair would in China. Hawaii was bad enough – frizz city!


  4. Dr. Watson
    May 30, 2015 @ 06:02:45

    I’m moving to china in September. I’m going to attend univeristy in Hefei. & I am terrified because I am natural.

    Is it expensive to do the Keratin Treatment?
    How much did you spend at the salon?
    I just need an idea on much I’ll be spending on hair.


    • aquariusamber
      May 30, 2015 @ 08:40:54

      Yes between ¥1500-¥1750 yuan. So like $242- $282. Hefei isn’t so far from Shanghai. You can go to my stylist and get your hair done. I would get it done prior to coming to China.


  5. Kareena
    Aug 26, 2015 @ 08:43:18

    Hey can I have India’s wechat….I dont see it on here. Thanks


  6. Mahuun
    Jun 19, 2016 @ 23:19:23

    May I ask how long will this last till you need a new one again. Thank you. I am moving to Guangzhou and it’s gonna be my first time in China and I was so worried about my hair !!


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