Critical Condition

Going under wraps at Salon IshiPhoto: M. Sharkey

John Sahag Workshop
425 Madison Avenue, near 49th street, 2nd Floor (212-750-7772)
Secret Ingredient:Safflower oil.
Process: Treatment is applied with a paint brush; you’re under a steamer for 20 to 45 minutes.
Pleasure Factor: Beautiful smell of wild fields.
Results: The treatment added shine and softness, but could have been done at home; at $75, plus $75 for a blow-dry, it’s no bargain.
Rating: 2

Salon Ishi
70 East 55th Street(212-888-4744)
Secret Ingredient: Mineral water from Okayama, Japan.
Process: Mineral water is applied with a foundation sponge, then a halolike air purifier is affixed to your head for eight minutes.
Pleasure Factor: Ice-cold sponge is refreshingly cooling.
Results: Incredibly silky, grease-free hair; $125 and up is arguably a deal, given that the water costs $100 a bottle.
Rating: 5

860 Lexington Avenue, near 65th street(917-528-4531)
Secret Ingredient: Emmett Cooper mask contains avocado oil and milk protein.
Process: Mask is massaged onto hair, then you spend twenty minutes under a steam machine.
Pleasure Factor: Scalp massage is awe-inspiring.
Results: Brings fried hair back to life for just $35; with an excellent blowout for another $35, this is the best value.
Rating: 4

Rita Hazan Salon
16 East 65th Street(212-734-4757)
Secret Ingredient: Egg yolk and nectar oils.
Process: After mixture is applied, you sit under a rotating heat coil that looks like a brain-washing machine.
Pleasure Factor: Sadly, no pampering.
Results: Hair felt great following conditioning, but after the lengthy blow-dry, the ends were full of static. And $75 is a bit steep.
Rating: 2

Ted Gibson
184 Fifth Avenue, near 22nd street, 2nd Floor (212-633-6333)
Secret Ingredient: Combination of aloe, fruit, and floral essential oils.
Process: Your preferred mixture is painstakingly smeared in, followed by a scalp massage and a session with the rotating dryer.
Pleasure Factor: The neck and shoulder massages are too feeble, but the scalp massage is terrific.
Results: Hair feels healthy, looks shiny, and smells great; $45 ($90 with blowout) is good value.
Rating: 3

Cutler Salon
115 East 57th Street(212-308-3838)
Secret Ingredient: A Redkenhair “shot” combines natural and chemical elements.
Process: The shot is massaged into the scalp for ten minutes, then pH-balancing spray is massaged in and rinsed out before another deep treatment is applied.
Pleasure Factor: There’s no boring drying time.
Results: Hair feels softer immediately afterward, but that doesn’t last long; still, $50 is reasonable.
Rating: 3

Ishi of Salon Ishi’s tips on picking the right conditioning treatment.

1. Make sure the salon analyzes your hair to determine what kind of conditioner you need.
2. Technology and equipment should be up-to-date: Old-fashioned hair dryers are no substitute for a proper steam machine.
3. the salon should tell you how to maintain good hair at home, in order to get the longest life out of your treatment.
4. Check product freshness—it shouldn’t be caked or dried out.
5. All tools should be changed or sanitized before treatment.

Critical Condition