<<Update: I have since found a great hair salon in Korea that does a great job with foreign hair, it’s called Hair and Joy and is in Hongdae (Seoul)….you can check out my experience here>>
This weekend marked the second time I have gotten a hair cut in South Korea! In August I went into the salon to get my hair straightened and cut. Coming from Southern California where the air is always dry my hair pretty much exploded in the humid Korean summer. My normally wavy hair turned into something that was unmanageable and unsightly. So, I decided I would have to get a straight perm to de-frizz the mane.
In my lifetime I have had quite a few straight perms, once I even got a curly perm. But, that was when I was quite young before my natural curl/wave kicked in. Naturally I have wavy/curly hair. If my hair is short it is curly, if it is long then it is wavy.
Ever since I have started getting my hair cut I always seem to be rotating between Korean and American hair salons, depending on my mood mostly. In the States I notice a difference in the way my hair is cut between different salons and if I am going to get a straight perm I always get it done at a Korean salon.
Here in Korea the salon experience is quite different, even from Korean salons in California. The salons themselves seem to be quite the same in setup and tools, but the experience is quite a bit more luxurious. First, you are always asked if you want a beverage…juice, coffee, water, soda (many salons even have coffee machines that make espresso and other fancy caffeinated drinks-you can tell I don’t drink coffee). Then there are assortments of magazines and books that you are offered to read to entertain yourself with during the hair cutting journey. On top of this every stylist has an assistant, basically a stylist in training who just stands at their side waiting for orders. Finally, a huge difference is the price. In American I have gone to fancy hair salons and I have gone to someone’s garage to get a haircut. And believe me when I tell you that getting your hair cut in Korea will be way cheaper than most places in America. The lady who cut my hair spent about an hour on the cut itself, not to mention a 10 minute shampoo and head massage…and it cost me ₩25,000 which is roughly $25 AND there is not tipping culture in Korea. Which is crazy because I was in the salon for about an hour, Josh had an Americano and an apple juice while waiting and there was not only a stylist working with me but also an assistant.
If you are thinking there is no way they can be making money off this, then you are wrong. Because, here in Korea many people (men included) dye their hair. And that is where the salons are making the majority of their money. Our friend Eunji went with me to get her hair dyed at the salon and she paid about $130. I’m pretty sure this is comparable to getting your hair dyed in the States, I just haven’t really had any color changes done to my hair (with the exclusion of two unfortunate highlighting adventures when I was in Middle and High School).
Anyways, getting my hair cut in Korea has been pretty standard to me, the main differences being in price and in better overall experience.