What Koreans will go through for hair-raising feats… and beauty!
When my dad visited Korea last spring, he was seriously distraught. In the crowd of Koreans, young and old, he found he was the only “white-haired” senior in the population.
How can that be? Does Korea do away with all their old people or do they hide them away?
Korea, to him, was beginning to feel like a scary Twilight Zone episode.
He wanted to know- should he be concerned about his safety or his life?
I clued him in on the Korean secret…
Beauty and the Korean Way
Koreans are the best dressed people in the world. Without a doubt.
A high maintenance looks-oriented society, you’ll find men, women, teens and toddlers all stylishly made up, pressed and manicured… not a hair out-of-place.
A sloppy looking Korean is more an exception than the rule.
What’s the Korean secret to beautiful hair?
For me, my only curiosity around Korean beauty was about how long Koreans spend on their hair.
I’m a no-nonsense type of person. I may own a brush, but I seldom use it.
Yet I’ve noticed female hair here; it’s worn either, straight-as-a-pin or with curls perfectly-pitched to bounce.
Did Koreans spend hours in front of the mirror with a straightening iron?
The hair style is called Magic Straight (ultra-straightened hair) or Magic Volume (hair with a bit of a wave) and it’s complicated three-hour process (read more about it here) at a beauty shop, which will save you days, hours and weeks of laboring in vain for salon-styled hair.
Best of all, your coif will look as if it came straight out of the fashion pages!
After months of letting my hair drag out to “below tit”-like lengths, I needed to do something.
I Was Tired of the Usual Answer
I’d been to enough salons in the U.S. to know, I could never get a “magazine look” and if I did, I’d lose it after the first wash.
I have Asian-Pacific hair. It’s neither tame-able nor easy-going; it’s thick, coarse and never holds a curl.
‘The usual scenario’ for me is… I walk into a salon with an photo from a some fashion magazine of a ‘natural wind-blown’ look I want and the stylist tells me how it’s impossible for my Asian hair to get it. I’d have to use hot irons, gel, blow dryer, curlers, etc…
Apparently, having “natural-looking hair like Jennifer Aniston” takes work… a lot of it.
I went to Serano hair salon in Banwoldang, asked for Ji Won (a stylist recommended by San Diego to Daegu‘s Malou (her experience here). I cracked open a magazine, pointed at the first hair style I liked, and sat back in the chair.
I assumed I’d get the usual answer.
But it didn’t matter to me at that point. I had already gone an entire year experiencing a cultural gap, which rendered me feeling powerless in controlling any outcomes.
Korea had taught me how to not have expectations.
Ji Won wielded her scissors and my hair literally, went flying! Even Edward Scissorshands might suffer fierce competition;. Ji-Won was a professional Kali with scissors!
In less than ten minutes, my cut was finished. I was then conditioned, heated, washed and flat-ironed out to set and dry. Ji Won orchestrated my hair through the various complex phases …
But it didn’t stop there. They rolled out the curling octopus (for lack of a better term), a contraption I’d never in my life seen, but which kept my curlers hanging in suspension.
I had three stylists rolling me at once.
But it didn’t stop there…
Rather than torture you with the long and complex process (read about it here), I’ll say I was more pleased with the result than I had ever been in my entire life!
I never knew that a nicely styled coif could make you feel beautiful.
Does the Magic Volume pass the wash and wear test?
Yes and so far, it’s sustained over ten washes!
With a little blow drying and a couple of “twirly” things that I do with my finger to spiral my hair a bit, this is what I get.
Effortless. Relaxed. No-nonsense…
How much did it cost?
Okay, it was expensive.
I shelled out 140,000 Won or $126 USD, though it’s said to run around $180 to $360 in the U.S.
But it lasts anywhere from 4-6 months (although mine last much longer).
Overall, I feel I got great bang for my won! Furthermore, the style has already paid itself off in ten washes and it just keeps going.
it’s damnit, they know hair!
Banwoldang, Daegu, South Korea
11AM -8PM (not sure what the weekend times are)
Located in Banwoldang, off of the Jungnano station stop. Facing the main stage in front of McDonaldsand Debec Department store, turn left and go down that street for 3 or 4 blocks. You’ll see GS 25 on your right side, turn left down the street with outdoor vendor stalls. Serrano is on the left. No appointment necessary, although you may want to call to find out when Ji Won is working.