This 30-Minute Treatment Gave Me the Softest, Healthiest Hair of My Life

Run, don't walk, to David Mallett's New York salon to try it yourself.

Faith Xue Tokio Hair Treatment

Faith Xue / Byrdie

I’ve recently developed the annoying habit of constantly running my fingers through my hair. While that might not seem like that big of a deal—except when I’m in a meeting or on a call or looking at the dinner menu and suddenly realize I’ve been petting my hair like it’s some sort of soft baby Bichon for the past 10 minutes. I can’t help it. If this newfound habit is annoying for anyone in my vicinity, they can blame hairstylist David Mallett.

For those unschooled, Mallett is the Australian-French hairstylist responsible for the manes of Natalie Portman, Diane Kruger, and Marion Cotillard, to name just a few. His two namesake salons in Paris attract a discerning clientele, who flock to him for his mastery of the French off-duty style—that swingy, low-key-yet-polished aesthetic we Americans will never stop trying to re-create.

The good news for anyone residing in New York is that Mallett has a salon in SoHo’s multi-brand boutique The Webster. The space is on the top level and instantly transports you to Paris with its airy, light-filled rooms and high ceilings (not to mention the French-speaking, well-dressed staff, all of whom Mallett brought over from his Parisian salons). The 1600-square-foot salon was designed by renowned French architect Charles Zana and feels at once luxe and homey. It was here that I experienced something Mallett calls the Tokio treatment, which is the reason for my newly developed habit of touching my hair 24/7. I was told Mallett’s mysteriously named treatment helped a friend who had recently gone platinum feel like her hair was actually healthy again, so I went in with high expectations.

Keep reading to find out more about the Tokio treatment, including the cost, below.

What Is the Tokio Treatment?

david mallett haircut
Courtesy of David Mallett

"The Tokio treatment is a Japanese deep hair treatment that repairs chemical and mechanical damage. A trained hairstylist massages the scalp before performing the treatment in four steps, with each step containing different combinations of molecules to target a different layer of each hair strand. The treatment layers protein, keratin, hydrating treatments, and, finally, a steaming mask," says David Mallett.

It's a pretty involved process that takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to complete. Mallett’s charming former lead colorist, Anthony, explained the treatment to me. He told me he would be infusing a medley of ingredients from Tokyo (ah, hence the name) into my strands—from eight keratins to hydrolyzed silk to something called ceramide 2, which supposedly makes up 80 percent of the fatty elements in your hair, the salon claims. Something about the way the ingredients are concocted allows them to penetrate deep into the hair shaft to fuse with its natural fibers and heal it from the inside instead of just sitting on top as a gloss would, according to the salon.

Potential Benefits of the Tokio Treatment

  • Significantly reduces frizz
  • Repairs damaged and color-treated hair
  • Hair feels silky soft
  • Results last for weeks
  • Helps revive and renew permed curls
  • Does not change your hair texture

Unlike keratin treatments and Brazilian blowouts, the Tokio treatment isn't designed to permanently change the structure of your hair. Instead, it simply smooths, soothes, and makes your hair feel incredibly soft (and frizz-free, too). "The Tokio treatment is excellent for colored, permed, and straightened hair as it will repair any damage from these stressors," explains Mallett.

How to Prepare for the Tokio Treatment

The Tokio treatment is pretty straightforward and doesn't require any special preparation. "There is no preparation involved for the Tokio treatment," says Mallett. "Your hairstylist will first properly brush your hair to remove any knots or snags, before starting the treatment."

What to Expect During a Tokio Treatment

david mallett tokyo treatment

First, I was led to a shampoo bowl where Anthony applied the treatment to my hair using a slapping sort of motion—like my strands were naughty children he was chiding. He explained that this application method fully allows the ingredients to penetrate, which I was more than okay with.

After he had finished smacking the treatment into my hair, he left me for a few minutes and then came back and covered my strands with a balloon-looking hair wrap. The wrap expanded over the next few minutes, puffing out with warm steam. I snapped some selfies, obviously. Then, the treatment was finished. The whole thing took 30 minutes from start to finish. Mallett himself blow-dried my hair, and halfway through, I couldn’t help myself. I quickly ran my fingers through my hair, then did it again and again. Somehow, my dry, overdyed strands had transformed into baby hair. Well, not quite newborn hair, but maybe toddler or pre-teen hair.

Anthony promised me that the treatment would make my hair even softer in a few weeks. It’s been a week, and so far, it’s delivered on his promise. My hair swings now, instead of just falling limply across my shoulders like straw. It gleams in the light and feels thicker somehow, too. Plus, I’ve noticed that my roots are less oily than before, and I can go longer between shampooing (and dry-shampooing). Mallett recommends getting the treatment every four to six weeks to bring your hair back to full health, and I’m already gearing up for my next appointment. In the meantime, apologies for all the hair-touching (and tossing).

Potential Side Effects

The Tokio treatment is incredibly safe and typically doesn't have any major side effects. "The Tokio treatment can be used to revive all types of damaged hair, no matter its texture or color. If you have sensitive skin or known allergies, request an ingredient list for the formulas so you can identify any contraindications," advises Mallett. He continues, "You might notice a slight reduction in volume after the Tokio treatment, only because the hair will be properly hydrated and the hair cuticles closed and smooth."

The Cost

The Tokio treatment at the David Mallett salon costs $250 for short hair, $300 for medium-length, and $350 for long hair. All of those prices include the treatment and a blow-dry. Yes, that is pricey, considering you might want (or need) multiple treatments to see long-lasting change with your hair. However, I fully believe the benefits and the results even from just one treatment are 100 percent worth it.


The Tokio treatment doesn't require any special aftercare. After the treatment, you're free to resume your normal shampoo/conditioning routine and resume using your regular hair care products.

The Final Takeaway

Overall, I really enjoyed my Tokio treatment at the David Mallett salon. I can't keep my fingers out of my hair—My strands are so soft, so slippery-smooth, that all I want to do is touch them 24/7. And the best part? My hair looks healthier too. I can't recommend it enough, especially if you feel like your hair is super damaged.

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