Sunday, November 14, 2010

Gender-specific post: females only

**AUTHOR'S NOTE: This post is for girls only. If you are a guy, please go to this post, written especially with you in mind. Unless you have an affinity for inexplicably long descriptions of beauty salons, I highly recommend you stop reading now.**

I have a dysfunctional relationship with my hair. Sometimes I pretend to really care about it, and I straighten it and style it and wear it proudly. More often than not, though, I don't even wash it, and I just throw it into a ponytail on my way out the door. If it looks really awful, I'll cover it with a hat to buy myself another day of not washing it. (Boys, I told you you wouldn't want to read this.)

When I got to Korea, I found that if I let my hair naturally dry on my way to work, it looked quite good. Some days were better than others (depending on the humidity levels), but for the most part, my hair turned out decent and I was washing it almost every single day!

My hair looked so good on this day that wildlife flocked to me, having mistaken me for a Disney princess.

Unfortunately, it's getting colder here. When I shower in the morning now, I'm left with two options: risk pneumonia and let my hair dry on the way to work or blow dry it. Now, it's not just out of laziness that I avoid hairdryers. I actually don't mind spending the time doing it; my issue with hairdryers is that they leave my hair looking like this:

I know you think I'm exaggerating, but I promise I'm not. Once in college, Kimi walked into the bathroom right after I finished drying my hair and literally started laughing. Kimi also laughs at bellybutton lint, but still. Ruling out venturing into the cold with my hair dripping onto my shoulders, I'm left with two new options: dry it and look like a fluff ball or dry it and straighten it.

I spent nearly all of college going the straightening route. I'd wake up way early to tame the beast on my head, and after half an hour of work, it usually looked pretty good. In fact, most of my friends didn't even know my hair was naturally curly until I got caught in a rainstorm. It wasn't until this past summer that my laziness approached a whole new level and I stopped straightening my hair on a daily basis. In the last six months or so, I can count how many times I've straightened my hair on one hand. It wasn't terrible; as long as it wasn't too humid out, I could let my hair dry itself and it usually worked out pretty well. But when the weather changed and I was stuck with the choice between spending 45 minutes getting rid of my curls or just looking like I stuck my finger in a light socket, I chose the latter. Every day for the last two weeks, I blow-dried my hair, nearly scared myself in the mirror, and tied the frizz up in a knot on the back of my head.

The ponytails got old really fast. Although I hated the frizz and the boring hair style, I refused to waste the time in the morning making my hair do something different. That's where Magic Straight comes in.

Before you get really excited (Rosie), Magic Straight doesn't involve real magic. It's essentially a backwards perm that makes your hair stick-straight and frizz-free. I'd heard urban legends of similar processes in the States, but they always seemed to be tagged with "it doesn't really work though". Here, Magic Straight is the thing to do. Korean girls absolutely love it, and some brave foreigners have jumped on board as well. I did a little research on google and made an appointment to permanently calm my curls.

Yesterday morning, I woke up early and headed out to Hongdae to experience the magic that would change my life. I grabbed a coffee and hopped on the subway (for the record, I totally got on the wrong train. I eventually found the place, but I could have gotten there in about half the time if I'd taken a different route. Ah well. I happen to really enjoy the subway, so it was fine). I had a little map in my foreigner guidebook, but Hair & Joy was really easy to find. I arrived about twenty minutes early and hung out on a couch reading my book until my appointment.

It's worth noting that everyone at Hair & Joy speaks perfect English. There are tons of hair salons in Korea (hello, stereotypes), but it's surprisingly hard to find a place that knows how to deal with caucasian hair. Hana called the place she usually gets her hair done, and they told her that they would be happy to do my Magic Straight perm, but that they didn't know if they had the right chemicals for a westerner and that they couldn't guarantee that my Magically Straight hair would still be attached to my head when I left the salon. Hair & Joy, on the other hand, was able to answer my questions and quiet my fears... oh, and they had free cookies.

I didn't take any pictures of my hair styling extravaganza, but I found some images on google that will help you to understand the process. You're welcome.

As is common protocol at salons, the first thing that occurred was a washing. When I returned to my seat, Sophia dried my hair before getting to work.

She applied chemicals and wrapped my head in Saran Wrap.

Then she pulled a machine up beside me that melted the Saran Wrap to my head.

I pretended instead that it was melting my brains and made situation-appropriate faces at myself in the mirror. You'd have done the same, I'm sure.

Then she washed my hair again, dried it again, and straightened it. When she finished the straightening, she immediately started squirting some kind of cream all over my head, ruining the hour of work she had just completed. She let me sit for another twenty minutes before, yet again, washing my hair. This time when she dried it, however, there was a miracle. My hair was straight.

That may be the lamest miracle ever recorded, but to a girl who's spent the last decade of her life constantly looking like her hair was recently caught in a tornado, it was magical. Hopefully I won't get too unmercifully mocked for doing this, but here's a before and after:


I mean, holy cow.


  1. This is amazing. How long will it last?

  2. I almost got really excited. Then you reminded me not to, so thank you :)

  3. I read the boys blog post first. what if I laugh at belly lint, what are you trying to say, huh?!

    And lastly, you look like you have Asian hair! No seriously, Asians always have super straight, sleek, shiny, black hair. And you have that now! minus the black.

  4. I read the boys blog too! haha
    And that is pretty stinkin cool.
    only I wish I had curly hair. lol

  5. wait, i'm confused...

    which one is the before, and which one is the after?

    (sorry, i'm a guy, i don't understand this kind of thing)

  6. that's crazy! that straight pic isn't after you used a straightener?

    Also I laughed out loud at work when you said kimi laughed at your hair. and belly button lint. hehehe.

    you're wrong, she CACKLES

  7. also this is the word blogspot asked me to spell before i could post:


  8. I would've KILLED for your naturally curly hair. But I also LOVE your straight hair. My hair is inferior. *hair cowers*

  9. I super understand your dilemma! I have been there too! Love the hair. It looks so good!

  10. Aw! your hair looks so goof! :D

  11. Hi, I'm thinking of having this done at hair and joy. How much did it cost? Thanks! :)

  12. hi! it was 150,000 won for the magic straight, then another 30,000 to cut it. it changes based on how long your hair is though. you can call them if you want to know for sure :)