I guess they really mean it when they say that the third time is the charm, at least that has been my experience upon getting my hair dyed for the third time in Korea. This last year has been kind of whirlwind in terms of whats been going on with the hair growing out of my head. I had gone from the girl who hadn’t dyed her hair in 10 years to 6 color changes in a year…. So let’s review!
Au Natural: dark brown with a lot of red (red comes out in sunlight)
February 2015: dark orange/red
It all started when I saw some random girl on the subway in Seoul late one Friday night with a long bob that was dyed light ash brown, I fell in love and decided right then and there that I wanted her hair. Not having any real experience with changing my hair color apart from 2 unfortunate highlight situations in middle and high school I thought I would walk into any old salon and magically get whatever color I wanted. I mean how hard could it be? Extremely hard, the correct answer is extremely hard. So, the first trip to the salon I wasn’t ready to take the bleach dive just yet, so I opted for as light as I could go without bleach. And although I requested repeatedly through a Korean friend NOT to have any orange in my hair…I ended up with pretty dark orange hair…you can see that here. Even though the first round of hair color change didn’t yield me the results I wanted I was happy with the little change and it left me wanting a more drastic change.
May 2015: gray, some bits of blue and green and even blonde (depending on the lighting)
So, the second time in the salon I was ready to go all the way, bleach the whole works in order to get that ash brown hair I so desired…and what ended up happening I will never truly understand. Again I went with a Korean speaker, looked at hair swatches, pointed at a girl in the salon with the hair color I wanted…and yet after the girl was done dying my hair she swore that was the color I had chosen. Regardless, I embraced it as I was going to be on holiday and the gray hair thing was super trendy. You can read more about the gray hair adventure here.
July 2015: platinum blonde, because why the hell not?
So, after the multicolored gray hair faded after about a month I had what is called a “halo” and not from being angelic, from my roots not being toned the same as the rest of my hair. Luckily at this point I was back home in California and could see my usual stylist. She fixed my roots and gave me super light ash blonde hair. And you know what? I loved it. I really couldn’t have ever said that I would have wanted to be a blonde, at most I think I wanted to be light brown. But, I loved it and surprisingly many other people did too. There’s worse things than being blonde in summertime in California. The color was pretty cool, in the sunlight it looked platinum and in darker light it was really ashy and almost gray.
October 2015: time to darken things up a bit
At this point of my hair journey I was ready to go a little darker so that my roots weren’t such a stark contrast the rest of my hair. So, guess what color I ended up with? The light ash brown I had originally wanted all those months ago…it was a good transition. I knew I wasn’t ready yet to give up completely on having light hair but I wasn’t about to try and maintain blonde hair in Korea.
February 2016: it’s been a year of shenanigans lets go back to my roots, the roots I had when I was a baby
So, at this point I was just super ready to go back to my natural color. Now if you think at this point I would do my research on Korean hair salons and dying ones hair, then you’d be wrong because I like to learn things the hard way. I decided to go the hair salon in the same building as my school since one of the art teachers goes there and she seemed happy with her hair. When I went into that salon to inquire about booking an appointment I was told that my bleached hair wouldn’t hold a dark color longer than 2 weeks and I should go ahead and bleach my roots. Pretty much the opposite of what I hoped to attain. So, this sent me into a frenzy of online research and thank goodness it did!
After doing a lot of research online I found Hair and Joy in Hong Dae, Seoul that seemed to cater to foreign hair. This was such a weird concept to me, in the past I had figured that since I was half Korean my hair wasn’t really foreign hair but it is! My hair is a lot thinner than Korean hair tends to be. It’s also super red…which is why my hair is prone to turning orange when color treated. Anyways, the salon I found was amazing. After reading plenty of reviews of happy customers and their hair dying experiences I felt kind of confident in booking an appointment. I called in and booked an appointment and the guy I talked to seemed to really know what he was talking about.
At the salon I was super surprised to see that at least while I was there most of the clients were foreign, and not only that most of them seemed like long term repeat customers. All the staff spoke amazing English and were very nice and accommodating. And you know what? I ended up leaving with the color that I wanted. I guess if I could pass anything I learned the hard way onto someone else in Korea is that you need to go to a foreign experienced salon if you are dying your hair. Previously I had gone to salons that were great, they just didn’t know what to do with my type of hair. And I couldn’t recommend Hair and Joy enough, they were amazing! I left with the exact cut and a color I was happy with…which pretty much never happens in hair appointments. I say color I was happy with because I left with a color darker than my natural color (right after getting dyed by hair was pretty much black) but I was told bleached hair fades really quickly when died a natural color so it’s better to go a little darker, which I’m fine with. Also, it’s been over two weeks and my hair didn’t fade back to blonde so I’d say the dye job was a success.
So, after all that I’m ready to give up on changing my hair color…for the time being…