Hair Rebonding in Manila

Permanent hair straightening seems to be a relatively new fad in the US but I have Asian friends who, when returning to the US from visiting their homeland, always come back with fabulous straight and gorgeous hair. I knew I wanted to get it done when visiting Southeast Asia on this trip – but I wasn’t even sure what to call the process!

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I’ve had a keratin treatment done in the past (not the same as rebonding), and this is also done widely in Asia for a fraction of the cost in the US. But I wanted something more permanent. When not traveling (aka working), I’m constantly wearing my hair up – as a chemist I needed it out of my face, but also I just have so much frizzy hair – it was just easier to deal with.

When I did wear my hair down, it took hours to straighten it with an iron and that only lasts a day or two. I wore it up so often (95% of the time) that no one ever recognized me with it down. And forget about a short style – I feel like it takes more effort and products to make those look halfway decent on me!

As we’ve traveled, the blow dryer, straightener, and frizz ease products were left behind. I decided to wear my hair back for the duration! Take a look at this awesome family photo – minus the pile of frizz on my head!

Hair Rebonding in Manila
Kayaking in El Nido with my frizz top.

What is hair rebonding?

I learned that what I need was called “hair rebonding” – a popular and permanent hair straightening solution. Hair rebonding is a chemical treatment that breaks the di-sulfide bonds in the hair (excuse the chemist in me). That means you won’t be able to recurl it – even with a curling iron – after this treatment.

Where to Go

I went to Going Straight for my hair rebonding – it’s a chain that specializes in hair straightening treatments. The one I went to was in Robinsons Place mall in Manila. There we lots of other salons that also offered the service – but here I just walked in and was treated right away. They also offer Brazilian blowouts, keratin treatments, hair coloring, mani/pedis, etc.

I learned from my stylist that hair rebonding is incredibly popular in the Philippines. I also noticed that nearly every salon that I saw in the Philippines offered the treatment.

Cost of Hair Rebonding in Manila

In the US a typical hair rebonding treatment can cost anywhere from $500-$1,500, according to Oprah’s website :). That’s a lot of money – but after 3 months of having the treatment – I love it so much – that I would probably spend this type of money in the US as well. This from a girl who gets 1-2 cheap haircuts a year.

Lucky for me, in the Philippines hair rebonding costs anywhere from 5,000-10,000 pesos ($115-$230) – an amazing deal! The cost depends on the thickness of your hair, length, and the salon.

At Going Straight I was given the hair bonding service, cellophane treatment, and a hair cut for 5,600 pesos ($126) including tip. Although its not part of Filipino culture to tip, I think hair styling is an exception to that rule. These girls certainly deserved it after many long hours on their feet!

I don’t think they realized how thick my hair is as it was tied back and it’s very deceiving. I’ve never had a hair stylist NOT comment or say – “your hair is the thickest I’ve seen!” Each hair is thin – but there are many – so I knew the quote for my length was a great deal.

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The Rebonding Process

I was told the process would take about 3 hrs. When we started it was 4:00 pm and the mall closed at 9:00 pm so plenty of time. I read that in the US it’s often 8 hrs – especially for my length of hair. But Going Straight had 2 women working on my hair the entire time (never had that before!) Don’t forget to use the bathroom before you start – it’s a long process!

First your hair is washed with shampoo, no conditioner, then they dry it. Take a look at my hair after this blow drying. This is what we are dealing with people.

Hair rebonding in Manila
Big hair!

The relaxant is then applied to your hair (each and every hair – but it’s fast) and is left for about 30-45 min – the stylist comes to check when its done. After the relaxant they brought over a steamer helmet to steam the hair for 30 min or so. All the timing depends on the type of hair you have – mine was thick and kinky so several checks were done throughout each process. Next the relaxant is washed out, and I was blow dried again.

Then they apply a keratin lotion to all of your hair and the fun begins – the flat ironing. Let me tell you – this was painful – extremely painful. Luckily I’ve had very little pain in my life – no broken bones, had a c-section for the twins, etc. So for me – this pain was intense. They take a little section of hair at a time (10 hairs??) and flat iron it with the worst hair pulling iron in the world, repeatedly, 20 times a section…

One woman was worse than the other (maybe the flat iron?), but I was definitely in tears. They did this for more than 2 hrs straight – the longest part of the process. I felt bad for them too – I can’t imagine keeping my arms in the air for that long. They also do this to 2-3 women a day, 6 days a week – so they are buff!

At this point it was also getting late and the salon was clearing out – so the only sounds were the crunch, pull, whimper of my straightening. I tried to make conversation throughout to keep my mind off of the pain and they kept telling me there is a Filipina expression about “pain is beauty”. Something about how any pain is worth it for true beauty.

Um ok… I kept cracking jokes about how painful it was and shrinking into my chair to try and hide from them. I asked if I was their worst client ever – and they said many girls come to get their hair done as early as 10 – and those girls really cry, so I wasn’t so bad. I can’t imagine Aurora going through that at 18 – never mind 10!

Hair Rebonding in ManilaOnce the torture, I mean straightening, was complete they applied a neutralizer to “rebond” the hair and stabilize the hair structure. The neutralizer is then kept in your hair for about 30 min. I think mine wasn’t left in that long because it was getting late – already almost 4 hrs later, and the mall was closing within the hour. After this they rinse off the neutralizer with cold water and blow dried the hair again.

You may be wondering – where was Matt and the kids during all this? Since we originally thought it would only be 3 hrs, they decided to hang out in the mall, shop, eat dinner etc. They returned at the 3 hr mark to see that I was no where near finished so they brought back food for me and went back off to find a toy store.

After over 4 hrs Aurora decided she wanted to stay for some of the salon action. So she stayed while Matt went off to do some more laps around the mall with Jasper.

At this point, I was ready for my “cellophane treatment” which was included as part of my rebonding package. This is a glossing serum they apply to your hair to make it shiny and helps restore dry and damaged hair. They apply the cream and again you wait, maybe another 30 min.

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They typically wrap your head in some cellophane for this, and if it’s done without a rebonding treatment they will also stick you under a hair dryer helmet. For me, no cellophane and about 10-15 min since at this time the mall was actually closing!

I didn’t know ahead of time, but you can actually color your hair with the serum treatment. They informed me the color only lasts 2 weeks and is washed out quickly. This color isn’t harsh (no ammonia or peroxides) and is just deposited on your hair – so the color you choose needs to be darker than your natural color or it will have a muted effect. They showed me (and now Aurora too) a board with the different colors.

Hair Rebonding in Manila
Aurora picking my hair color – dangerous!

Aurora thought I should definitely go for the pink color (surprise, surprise). I was actually so tired at this point – and I’ve never colored my hair (outside of a few highlights) or even thought about what color it should be, so I said fine to her sheer delight.

Since my hair is darker than pink it came out looking darker, and I actually felt like an Asian pop star with the reddish color. After rinsing and drying my hair, they gave me a quick trim. A bit of a miscommunication as I just wanted it straight on the bottom and they gave me some layers – but it was now almost an hour after the mall had closed – so I’d worry about another trim later. Here is the final look, what do you think?

Hair Rebonding in Manila
The final look! Pardon the mug shot.

Post Rebonding Hair Care

Its really important to take good care of your hair after rebonding since the hair has been stripped and is more fragile than normal hair. Get it trimmed regularly avoid harsh chemicals (like more dying, etc), and avoid too much sun exposure (haven’t really paid to close attention to that one myself though).

Clips, Braids, and Elastics

Once I was done, I went to put in my trusted hair elastic that I came in the salon with. “NOOOO” shouted the owner of the salon! Apparently you aren’t supposed to put any hair bands, clips, etc. into your hair for at least a month – and even then you need to do it sparingly.

I asked about braids – that is also a no go as the hair is very sensitive to kinking. I put my hair behind my ears and again was reprimanded that I shouldn’t do that either. Oh dear – I’m not used to having my hair in my face and now I’ve committed to it! They almost fainted when I put my glasses on (as that also pushes the hair out) but I need to be able to see!

I haven’t had problems with damage thus far – I’ve found telephone wire elastics like these to be the best at not kinking my hair. I see a lot of other Asian women who have rebonded hear wearing scrunchies – but I’m not ready to bring back the 80’s quite yet.

Getting Hair Wet

Once your hair is rebonded, you need to wait at least 2-3 days before you wash it or get it wet. Then you are supposed to keep contact with pools and oceans at a minimum as the hair is sensitive to damage. I just put my hair up before going into a pool (now that I’m past my 1 month mark!) and make sure to wash it well after diving in the ocean.

The hair color did wash out in about 2-3 weeks. Be careful with drying your hair on hotel towels – I accidentally turned a white towel fuchsia because of the dye rinsing out. Often women will get a cellophane treatment several times a year after rebonding to keep a shiny glossy look. You can also do the cellophane treatment, like this one, on your own to save money.

Tip: Cellophane treatments are a healthy way to color your hair, regardless of if you are doing rebonding.

Products for Rebonded Hair

It’s important to use good quality shampoo and conditioner – I’ve been using these Loreal sulfate free products even before I had this rebonding treatment and they are perfect for not causing buildup or damage to your hair.

Leave in conditioner like this one is also useful. It’s pricey but a little goes a long way.

I also use John Frieda Frizz-Ease Sheer Solution as you only need 5-10 drops for my long hair and its a perfect small bottle for traveling. It’s great for before combing your hair – my salon recommended a wood comb with wide wooden teeth like this one.

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Final Verdict

After 3 months, I still really love the way it looks – just as good as when I had it done – which I would never say about a keratin treatment. I haven’t had to do anything but comb it (no drying or straightening) so it’s been perfect for travel!

Given the cost savings of having hair rebonding treatment done in the Philippines, and my love for the Philippines after our visit, perhaps I’ll just need to revisit annually to get my hair touched up!

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Hair Rebonding in Manila
My rebonded hair (natural color) 3 months later in Penang, Malaysia. Thanks Jasper for taking our photo!

16 thoughts on “Hair Rebonding in Manila

  1. Great article! I love your blog. Im going to the Philippines next month, and heading over to boracay. Will be using your tips on this blog 😀 I already wrote down names of places to eat. I am also getting my hair rebonded! Haha.


    1. Thanks Marissa!! So glad you’re finding the info helpful for your planning. We loved the Philippines and have so many wonderful memories. Enjoy your trip!


  2. Hi kat, m Harshada. i jus went to pHillippines a month back for my business trip , i should tell you the place is just awesome with great people. even i had seen many of the rebonding salons offerig the services for jus 999pesos, so is that good?do you have any idea?


    1. Wow – that seems like an extremely good deal! I paid at least 5 times that! Just look online to make sure they are reputable to their clients and the product they use is safe for your hair. I used the Loreal product (twice now) and loved it each time. Haven’t regretted for a moment having my hair straightened – I get complimented all the time and its been almost a year! Just one more reason to return to the beautiful Philippines!!


    2. Yah!!lot of salon offer great deals..u can have it for as low as 999, but f u want extra treatment u will add extra payment..but still cheap..


  3. The term we have is called Tiis Ganda (tee-is-gun-da) which is pain is beauty! I’m not even a woman but I stayed with you throughout this post because you wrote it in the most engaging manner. Your hair looks amazing Kat, so nice to hear you had a good experience in my country the Philippines about your hair hehe.


    1. Sorry for the late reply Sil! We’ve had a new baby – so this blog has certainly taken a back burner! Thank you so much for the term – that is exactly it!! We loved the Philippines – I can’t wait to return (my hair needs it!)


  4. I am a hairstylist in LA. The HAIR REBONDING TREATMENT you received what is the actual name that was on the bottle or box that they used to do treatment. And why was it necessary for a cellophane treatment ? Was it because your hair felt dry and brittle after REBONDING TREATMENT. AND IF YOUR DAUGHTER chose a PINK COLOR , your pictures were no where near pink. And let’s be honest please because I’m trying to TRULLY understand what type of service you TRULLY received. So u r telling us that u wash your hair with a non-professional shampoo and your hair drys board straight like the picture you displayed to us with only a few drops of oil?? I think your service was actually a relaxer ( which reforms the disulfide bonds in hair). But NO SERVICE IS PERMANENT NOR DOES ANY CHEMICAL SERVICE LAST ONE YEAR. What about your regrowth ( meaning the new hair that has come out of your scalp that was never touched by the so called “REBONDING TREATMENT”. ) And if the pic u have posted here was taken 4 months later you will have at least 2-3 ” of regrowth(new hair). And in your case it would be kinky hair’s on top your head especially in front hairline where it is more obvious So help ME UNDERSTAND THE TRUTH behind this story. And where in the US is there a hair salon that offers REBONDING TREATMENTS that will last 1 year.


    1. im a stylist too. & i have witnessed it myself. i got it done too in the philippines long ago and its better than whatever stylists use here in the u.s. Whenever my aunt gets a japanese straight or relaxing etc. she has tried all but they never lasted. But for the ones in the philippines especially the ones not
      Operated at the mall… theyre bone straight and SILKY. you could air dry your hair and its still great but my
      Point is yes when your hair grows out… it will
      Obviously not be straight anymore but the blooger said 3 months so her hair has probably grown an inch or so depending on her hair but i mean her hair isnt probably curly. It looked more wavy to me so she wont notice atleast after a couple months more. i do too wonder what the bottle is.


      1. Sorry I’ve been so out of touch! We had a baby and she’s taken all my attention! To follow up – yes, the hair that was straightened is still super straight 2 yrs on. Like this hair couldn’t be curled if I tried – it looks like a flat iron out of the shower. I had my roots straightened in Bali before we returned to the US after about a year – using again a Loreal product. My US hair dresser here says I should have bought it and brought it home! I wished I’d at least snagged a photo as that would have been helpful! My hair did grow out and is now wavy on the top. You could certainly see the “kink” from about 1 to 3 inches of growth – but now its so far down its not as noticeable. So if I’m going somewhere fancy I’ll straighten the top half, but most of the time I wear it up and have a smooth ponytail (also do to my baby pulling it when down). My girlfriends and I want to go back to Asia just for this hair treatment – they were all amazed when I returned with straight locks! In terms of the color – the little locks of hair they showed us was on what had to be blond hair – which is very funny as most people in the Philippines have dark hair. There was bright pink, green, etc as options. They told me it would be more of a tint & ended up more orangey probably because of my brownish hair color to start. Hope that helps! Certainly talk to a local if you can – there are lots of Phillipinos in LA who will give you the full rundown as it seems to be quite standard there!


  5. Hi ,kat im the one of the person who read your vlog abot you hair rebonding.. if you dont mind im just asking were is that place .. ?? Can you give some of detail Im glad you like here in our country ..


    1. Hi Syvill – From above: I went to Going Straight for my hair rebonding – it’s a chain that specializes in hair straightening treatments. The one I went to was in Robinsons Place mall in Manila.
      Great ladies there!


  6. Thanks, Marissa! I love what they did to your hair. I just got back from Manila and now here in Houston where it is humid and my hair was everywhere. I had my natural blonde hair Rebonded too and it was at the dot zero hair studio in makati Manila. I have a very long hair and it took about 5 hours. It was cheaper compared to here in Houston. We were staying at one of the hotels in makati and found their place. Excellent work for a great price, I’d say. I will have my rebonding again after 10 months.

    I will swing by to Manila again for our next business trip. Their culture is great and love the experience their.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Excellent article.


    1. You are so lucky to be able to return to have it redone! I also did it in Bali after about 10 months. Its faster as they mostly only treat the roots that haven’t been done. It was also cheaper because of this – but still took forever. I think its because they still flat iron it all a million times!

      Now if only we could get this service for cheap in the US!!


  7. I am a Filipina and I’ve been itching to visit back home and do all the beauty treatments I need to have. Everything in California, especially the Bay Area, is very expensive, the price of a basic manicure and pedicure could give me already a head to toe beauty pampering back home.


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