Want that K-drama hair minus the drama? From Garden Grove to Bergen County, Koreatowns all across the U.S. are great places to make that happen.
But there are a few things you should know before going to a Korean hair salon.
1. Prepare to be pampered
Korean hair salons are places where girls can be girls. 💆♀️💇♀️💁♀️
The first step at a Korean hair salon is usually a full shampoo and rinse, so expect to be in a splash zone. Don’t fret about your makeup though because they’ll cover your face with a towel! Yes, they’ve thought of everything.
📌Tip! When they wash your hair, completely relax your neck, instead of trying to help the hair designer by lifting your head up. Counterintuitively, this makes their job harder. BTW, shampooing is free at Korean salons as long as you use their service.
Korean hair salons also will serve you a nice hot or cold beverage to soothe or cool you down free of charge. I always get a cup of iced green tea or americano (black coffee) 🥰. Makes the experience so much more enjoyable.
2. Get in where you fit in
Not all hair is easy to work with. Asian hair is notorious for being the most stubborn. My first time getting a perm at a non-Asian salon in Spain was memorable. They had a tough time and it turned out a bit too wild.
Understandable, because Asian hair takes some time getting used to.
Koreans are pretty comfy with all types of hair, so no worries if you’re another ethnicity. You don’t need someone who shares your background, just someone experienced with it.
Asian hair is typically the darkest, straightest and thickest. Like… I would need to bleach several times if I wanted blonde hair. Even Korean hairdressers ask if I dye my hair black 🤣🙄😭. So, it’s normal for me to spend at least 3 hours at a salon.
📌Tip! Check the salon reviews and/or Instagram to see if you’re represented in them. If they’re surprised to see you there, you might want to make a graceful retreat the way you came in.
3. Wear something comfortable, but not too much
Since you’re going to be sitting there for a while, be sure to dress as you normally would, but the comfortable version. You don’t want to give your stylist the wrong idea about how you look day-to-day.
If you plan on bumming it though, don’t. Depending on how Korean your stylist is, there will be some judgement.
When you want the absolute best look for that day, tell them you’re going to your ex’s wedding. All the stylists will join forces to make you super fabulous.
📌Tip! Korean hair designers will most likely take a photo of your hair at the end for their Instagram. They’ll blur your face, but you can simply say no if you are not comfortable with it. If you DO want some nice photos, feel free to dress up because Koreans take some nice a** photos!
4. Get full before
Korean hair stylists are all about getting things done, but it never hurts to have a full belly just in case you spring for the deluxe treatment. Things can take anywhere to half an hour to half a day. It’s like a casino in there.
📌Tip! If you’re cool with the hair designer, you can snack with them in the downtime during the treatment. I sometimes order delivery or takeout tteokbokki while I’m getting my hair done.
5. Show up on time
Don’t you hate it when you end up waiting at the hairdresser for what seems like forever, even when you made an appointment? You can thank someone before you for showing up late.
Start off on the right foot by arriving on time, or at least text or call if you’re going to be late. One delayed appointment leads to a domino effect that makes it harder for everyone.
6. Dream big with a pinch of reality
The possibilities are nearly endless at a Korean salon.
You can get a simple trim or full perm and the color of your dreams.
Depending on your hair thickness and shade, coloring may take a lot of effort based on how light you want to go. Korean perms tend to be wavier at first than what you’re used to. These can be considered before deciding.
📌Tip! Once you get a perm or coloring done, it will last half a year to a year on average, so think about a long-term hairstyle you’re happy with. You will minimize damage by getting extra treatment, but you can do it at home with a product for cheaper.
7. Show don’t tell
Grab a screenshot of your favorite K-drama star or K-pop idol with your ideal look and show it to your stylist.
📌Tip! Make sure to take your time consulting your hair stylist before getting started. Showing them a couple of photos really helps. Of course, they might say your celebrity’s hair in the picture is done with a hair iron, but they’ll get a better idea of what you want.
8. When in doubt, ask the pros
When I’m not sure or I want to change things up, I ask them for recommendations in terms of curls and color.
It’s because some perms or colors might not be feasible on your hair or might damage it too much.
Simply by asking, I was able to find a nice combo that fit me perfectly.
They’ll also recommend a technique they’re comfortable with and styles they’ve created many times before experimenting on your hair. This increases the chances of getting that glam look.
9. Make the most of your time
Half the battle is aftercare.
A common thing hair stylists hear is that customers look amazing at the salon but can never quite recreate that look at home. This talk usually happens at the end of your seemingly endless salon time.
Tell them how much time you spend styling your hair. Also, be sure you have time to invest in the right tools and products to recreate that salon look.
📌Tip! You might also need to learn some new styling techniques. Don’t worry though, your Korean hair stylist will be more than happy to teach you some tricks. I ask all the time and learn how to style a specific look at home. One stylist even gave me a hair roller to help me afterwards as a subeesu along with a bottle of wine🍾🍷.
10. Play the long game
You’re not getting a hair style; you’re getting a hair strategy.
You may have to come back a few times to achieve your desired look. Find out:
- how often to leave your hair alone in-between appointments
- how to take care of your hair at home
- how to adapt your style through the seasons
For example, I prefer not to do repeat visits to a salon to get my roots dyed, so I opt for ombre which highlights the bottom with a gradient. That way it grows out naturally.
📌Tip! Finding the right stylist for your hair is key. Once you find one, you can build a relationship and have a gorgeous hairstyle throughout the year!
11. Know your allergies
Especially if you’re getting your hair colored. Also, it’s a good idea not to shampoo before getting it bleached. The natural oils will provide some protection to your scalp when the agent is applied.
📌Tip! As you might’ve noticed, Koreans are still at the early stages of getting familiar with allergies. There’s a chance that your Korean hairdresser doesn’t know about them. If you have one, make sure to tell them in advance and check the ingredients.
12. Come for the hair, stay for the boba
Yes, boba is a Chinese concoction, but Koreans aren’t shy about making food from other cultures (your sushi restaurant just might be owned by them).
Koreatowns will have a noraebang, grocery store, café (it’s almost a law) and more fun things to do while you look gorgeous.
📌Tip! Take glam four-cut photos in Koreatown. Check out “Life’s four cuts (인생네컷)”, a trendy photo booth where you can take the best four-cut photos of your life. They’re all over the place, especially in L.A.
Where can I find some good Korean hair salons?
333 5th Ave 2nd floor, New York, NY 10016, United States
149-48 41st Ave, Flushing, NY 11355, United States
9620 N Milwaukee Ave, Niles, IL 60714, United States
2349 W Montrose Ave, Chicago, IL 60618, United States
Tabong Hair Salon
9857 Long Point Rd, Houston, TX 77055, United States
Beautiful Hair Salon 뷰티플 헤어살롱(구 변신정헤어)
10001 Long Point Rd, Houston, TX 77055, United States
What else can I do in K-town besides going to a Korean hair salon?
Here are a few ideas:
- Sing noraebang
- Go to a spa
- Get your hair done
- Eat KBBQ
- Play drinking games
- Explore the town
- Learn more about Korea
- Brush up on your hallyu history
- Watch a Korean movie or TV show
- Listen to Korean music
- Get involved in a Korean American Association
exclusive info on Korea
Guided conversation is the fastest way to get fluent in Korean. Pimsleur takes you from 0 to conversational in three months. You can try Pimsleur here for free!
Did we miss anything?
Let us know your thoughts or questions about Korean hair salons!
Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this article that provide us a small commission at no extra cost to you. We only endorse the best software and products we use ourselves. Find out more about our code of ethics.