Getting my hair done in Korea | Magic Volume Hair

Last Updated on May 30, 2019 by Christine Kaaloa

grrrltraveler magic volume in Korea, getting your hair done in Korea, korean hair salons, english speaking hair salons in daegu, magic straight, magic volume
What Koreans will go through in hair-raising feats… and beauty!


Koreans will go through hair-raising feats for beauty!  I’m no different. I’m getting my hair done in Korea and I’m getting magic volume hair.


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… Hair dyeing.

Korean matching couples clothes, korean fashion
Matching couples clothes

Korean Beauty and the Way

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.

Read 10 Quirky things you didn’t know about Koreans

Busan2 9 90

What’s the secret to beautiful Korean 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 notice Korean hair here is either worn  supe rstraight-as-a-pin or with curls perfectly-pitched to bounce. Above all, it looked so natural! Did Koreans spend hours in front of the mirror with a straightening or curling iron, between school exams?

No. The answer?  Magic.

What is the Magic Straight or Magic Volume?

The hair style is perm 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. In many senses, it’s pretty wash and wear.  Best of all, your coif will look as if it came straight out of the fashion pages!

Girls from band, Secret (photo from The hair styles with a bit of wave are Magic Volume

My hair before a Korean perm

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 thick Asian-Hawaiian hair and lots of it. It can take a couple of hours to air dry my hair and it’s neither tame-able nor easy-going. My hair is thick, coarse and never holds a curl, unless I’ve had it in a ponytailed bun for a while. My hair strands generally have a tiny wiry frizz to it, so it never settles down. I like to call it my ‘Hula girl hair”; often you’ll see Polynesian dancers with long wiry frizz like mine.  My do is just styled, sheared and tiered so you don’t notice how much I really have.

So I seldom leave my hair all down and if I do, there’s usually a lot of product, oils, cremes and a lot of straightening iron action. Then I have my good days, when it all looks semi decent if you’re looking at me from a distance.

before magic volume
This is when I first arrived in Korea, during winter when my hair is at its best and frozen. I look great if you stand 3 feet away.


But closeup, the wiry kinks are there, hidden beneath and between hairs… an Asian afro dying to sprong out.

Getting my hair done in a western salon

‘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…

Maintenance.  Apparently, having “natural-looking hair like Jennifer Aniston” takes work…  a lot of it.

I don’t like maintenance, so instead, I opt for just a cut and style where they lop a shitload of hair off my mop! But the wiry hair is still there.

Serrano in Banwoldang Daegu, English speaking hair salons in Daegu Korea
The sign above ‘Hair Story’ reads Se-ra-no (서라노)

Getting magic volume hair in Korea

Living in Daegu, 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). Cracking open a magazine, I pointed at the hair style I liked and sat back in the salon chair.

I assumed I’d get the usual answer. It didn’t matter to me. I already spent an entire year experiencing culture shock, 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.

I was told it takes about 72 hours for the perm to set, so no jjimjilbangs or getting my hair wet.

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Magic Volume Korea, getting your hair done in Korea, grrrltraveler magic volume in Korea, getting your hair done in Korea, korean hair salons, english speaking hair salons in daegu, magic straight, magic volume

grrrltraveler magic volume in Korea, getting your hair done in Korea

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. Totally worth it.

Effortless. Relaxed. No-nonsense… Magic.

The wiry bits are tamed, relaxed and my hair can all settle on each other without bumping and grinding in wily ways. I like that I’m product-free, no straight iron.

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 lasted update: about a year. I got a touchup before leaving and going on my seven month backpacking trip;  it’s even lasted fabulously through India, Thailand, Cambodia… etc..).

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.  If I had to do it all over again, I would.

If there’s one thing that impresses me about Korea,…

it’s damnit, they know hair!

magic straight korea, magic volume korea
My magic straight/magic volume combination


Serrano Hair
Banwoldang, Daegu, South Korea
11AM -8PM (not sure what the weekend times are)
Ph: 053-423-0045

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.

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  • Hi Christine! Thank you for the informative article!! I’m going to Seoul this summer and I really want to get this done, but it’s all the way in Daegu T__T do you know if they have a salon in Seoul? Or do you have any recommendations for salons in Seoul? 🙂

  • Hi Christine! I’ve been getting the Magic Straight Perm done on my hair for 14 years 🙂 I couldn’t live without it!

    • Christine Kaaloa
      March 22, 2016 2:04 am

      @Alex: Really? Where have you gotten it? I hear it’s expensive in the U.S.

  • I got this done just yesterday at Juno Hair (really famous in Korea). I expected my hair to turn out really good since I was there for 3 hours getting pampered. Paid 170,000 won for my perm and yet when I came home my hair is still straight. Gonna be calling in on monday to complain and get redo 🙁

    • @Thoa: There’s nothing more irritating than not getting something you paid for. Hope it all works out for you.

    • I did mine at Juno Hair last year, half straight and half perm. The straight part was good but the perm, not that much. Maybe cuz I already had wavy hair. I called them today to ask the price and they said 220,000 won. A store that does it for 100,000 won, do you think the results will last long?

      • Sorry, I meant I found another store offering volume straight for 100,000 won, but Juno Hair is a popular place. I don’t want to spend 220,000 this time around but I want my results to last for a long time since I’ll be leaving Korea soon.

  • Jennifer Chesser
    January 21, 2013 11:18 pm

    As of January 22, 2013, this place is legit! Ji-won speaks great English, the staff are friendly and work quickly but well, and the cost for an awesome hair cut and wash and style was 15,000 won. I will be going back to them for a root touch up in just a few days ^_^ Thank you for this blog, Christine!

    • @Jennifer: oops, I thought I responded to this because I was very pleased with your comment and to know everything worked out well for you. So glad. On another note, I tried another hair stylist in Daegu recently because it was cheaper.. big bad mistake. Jiwon still rules in my book. I”m waiting for my hair to grow out.

      • Hi
        Hello friends ……
        plzzz I want job I live in dubai …..I have acsperns 10 yers. …I work in saloon. ….00971556107828 this is my number. ……

  • Great! And good idea, if it looks weird I’ll just pass it off as that. Start a trend! Lol Eekkk I’m excited! Now if I could just scrounge up some extra cash…

  • I’ve been researching Magic Straight and this post always comes up in Google! 🙂 I think I’m going to do it! I’ll be sad I won’t be able to come back to Korea to get touch ups but I think it’ll be worth it anyways. I hope it stays in and is useful while traveling! Did you find that the roots looked weird once grown out?

    • @Jessica: Go for it! I got the magic volume vs. straight (although they did give me a bit of a straight at the roots) because my hair is straight enough, so the I’m not sure how it’ll look when it starts growing out. If it’s terribly awkward, you might try to pass it off as some nouveau fashion from Korea or maybe it’ll be time for a short styled haircut. My hair eventually blended though.

  • I think that one of the things I miss most about Korea is having “_____ Story” on so many signs. I loved getting my lattes from the “Happy Coffee Story” near my ‘apatu’ 🙂

  • […] Getting my hair done at the Korean beauty salon […]

  • Omg, that’s insane! But it looks so good lol! =)

  • Korean people have great hair. No doubt on that. I just couldn’t figure out why. This may be due to the food they eat or due to their weather. They also have greatest styles when it comes to hair cut. So, great that you have your hair cut on a korean salon.

    • @Elane: The secret to great hair in Korea is all Magic!! That’s my theory. So far, it’s been pretty wash-n-go and I still look like someone styled my hair. I still love my hair and I don’t have great hair. But for the magic perms, you do need strong hair.

  • I have straight hair that I don’t color and I swear that Shielo’s Volume Line gives me more swing to my hair when I use it. I also use Shielo’s Volume Hairspray (its Flexible Hold) on my daughter sometimes and I notice that her flyaways are much neater after using the Shielo brand.

    The scent is AMAZING!

    I have also gotten compliments on the scent from people when my hair was dry. I recommend this shampoo to anyone who is looking to stretch out their haircut visits. Your hair stays healthy and smells great.

    • @Trich: I’m actually not familiar with Shielo products- will keep an eye out for it. Could be because the one shampoo bottle I bought is enough to last me for 2 years (you know Korean family size products). ha ha…

  • I enjoy your blog. I can’t wait to find this hair salon. I will be visiting Korea in a couple of weeks. Thank you for your input.

    • @Eun Jang: Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment! I’m sure you will and the area of Apgujeong is the noted Beverly Hills area of Seoul. It should be fun. Although, you might want to try some other Korean nail salon places as well. Get a little of the local flavor! 😉 Enjoy your trip!

  • Dear Christine, your blog is a delight, thank you so much for sharing your adventures. I live near Niles, a north suburb of Chicago. Recently, the community saw the opening of a huge Korean Super H Mart grocery (Aug 2006) and then a year ago, King Spa Sauna – a monster jimjilbang that I try to visit/bliss-out in at least once a month. Awesome. I’m a Caucasian gal happy to soak (literally) in whatever culture I can find.

    Anyway, I was at the H Mart today picking up red bean paste walnut cake goodies for dessert and had to walk by the Jangsoo stone bed place and then the salon. In the corner of the salon was that octopus contraction in the corner for Magic Straight or Volume! I may have to try it someday, or not.

    So if you ever have cause to visit Chicago, there’s a little bit of Korea for you to enjoy. Cheers!

  • Hello, I’m hair stylist myself. I’m qualified in the UK and have 8 years experience. If someone need professional hair cut and hair tinting, don’t hesitate to contact me. I leave my mobile No. 010 5188 0502

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