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The K-wave has officially invaded the world : from K-dramas to K-pop, Korean idols have skyrocketed to fame throughout the entertainment industry. And, with commercial hits like Descendants of the Sun, comes adoring fans who want their idol’s Korean hairstyles. But, before you decide to get Song Hye-Kyo’s beloved C-curl perm, these are just 10  things you need to know.

1. Basic of All Perm Therapy

Chalk it up to cultural differences but Korean perms and Japanese perms are definitely not one and the same. Korean perms are known for their amazing, showy waves and locks while Japanese perms are known for their gentler and milder waves. Although both are known for their superior formulas, this distinction is what sets them apart and gives them their own identities.

With all that said, if you are someone who just wants a light perm, whether you choose to go to a Japanese hair salon or Korean hair salon should not be a factor that you need to consider too hard. However, if you are looking to twin with your favorite idol, it might be better to go to a Korean hair salon like Apgujeong Hair Studio, Bump or LeeKaJa which will not only help perm your hair but also style it like your favorite Korean idols so that you can get your envisioned Korean hair style.

2. The Perfect Korean Perm for Men and Women

The perfect perm is one that comes out looking strong and healthy. What do I mean by that? Perms are known to dry out your hair. In some cases, perms can leave your hair breaking and looking extremely frizzy. However, the perfect perm would transform your boring straight hair into beautiful and healthy-looking luscious locks.

3. What to know and do before you go ahead with any perm/chemical services?

You wouldn’t ask a math teacher to teach art. Both may be teachers but that doesn’t mean they specialise in the same thing. Similarly, don’t expect every hair stylist in the salon to specialise in hair perm. To make sure you’ve got the right one, waltz right into the salon and ask for a stylist who specialises in perm or you could check their Instagram page, look for the picture closest to your dream curls and ask for the stylist that did them.

Once you have acquired your potential future stylist, show him/her your desired curls and make inquiries about your hair type and potential risks that come with getting a perm.

Don’t forget to ask about the price point one last time because a stylist can only give you an accurate price after analysing the quality and length of your hair.

4. Perming Products Used

Formula is key. A cheap formula that simply breaks the bonds in your hairs to ‘do the job’ will not do your hair justice. In fact, they are known to dry out your hair, irritate your scalp and weaken the roots of your hair. This is why it is critical that you know what chemicals touch your hair. Of course, I am not asking you to memorise all of the harmful chemicals in the world but chemicals like Parabens, Silicones, Sulfates and Behentrimonium Chloride are some of the most harmful ingredients found in cheap perming formulas. If you see any of these on the ingredients list, it might be better to postpone that perm and find a salon using superior formulas. Try looking for hair salons that carry and use brands with superior formula like Mucoata.

Perms are not supposed to cause scalp irritations and they are definitely not meant to be uncomfortable. If you feel any discomfort during the process, be sure to inform your stylist. After all, you only have one scalp and you definitely don’t want to damage it.

5. How Long Will the Perm’s Effect Last

Perms definitely are one of the most needy things you have to pay for. How well and how long a perm’s effect will last is mostly based on your efforts! If the perm is well-maintained, it can last from up to 6-10 months. However, if it is neglected, there is a chance that it may break down into a frizzy mess.

Perms tend to get looser and looser over time so maintaining the strength of the perm is no small feat. Therefore, if you have a busy lifestyle with no extra time to spare, be sure to give it two good think overs before committing to a perm.

6. Hair Maintenance

Right. So, you’ve sat in a chair for 3 hours and come out with beautiful, healthy-looking curls. Well, you’ve only won less than half of the battle and, trust me, the rest of the battle is definitely an uphill slope. A rewarding, beautiful slope but, nonetheless, arduous.

Similar to dyed hair, there are specialised shampoos and conditioners that are made just to help your curls retain their shape. Usually, the stylist will recommend some of these products after the perming process. Although, these salon-grade products may be a little more pricey than your average ntuc-grade shampoos and conditioners, they were made to be used with the perming agent and, when used together, will work best to keep your perm intact. A cool tip is to make sure you allow the hair mask or conditioner to stay on your hair for 4-5  minutes before rinsing it off. This is may extend your shower time by a few minutes but the results will definitely be worth it!

Other optional products include sculpting lotion (to give your curls an extra bit of strength) that some salons might recommend after the perm and hair oil (for healthy and shiny hair) which you will not normally be recommended after a perm but you could still make inquiries about.

To ensure the longevity of your curls, be sure to avoid creamy formulas that may weigh down your curls and try a conditioner with protein and minerals safeguard against frizz, static and flyaways to give you healthier-looking hair and perfectly polished, long-lasting shape.

7. Hair Styling Tips to Maintain the Curl Look at Home on a Daily Basis

Besides the extra products to add into your toilet cabinet, there are also a few tricks to add into your after shower routine.

As mentioned before, the first thing to remember is to not rush washing your hair, especially in the first few days after following your perm. Water is one of a perm’s greatest enemy, preceded only by climate and heat. It is recommended that you wash your hair on alternate days for the first few weeks in order to allow the perm to set. Of course, it goes without saying that you should also avoid swimming, for the first week after the perm.

Next, throw away your comb and get used to combing through your hair with your fingers. Combs are often too harsh for your newly born curls. At best, they’ll loosen your curls slightly but, at worse, they could completely straighten your hair. A good tip is to comb through your hair thoroughly after shampooing it so that you rid your hair of tangles and ensure that the shampoo gets to every part of your hair.

8. Choosing the Perfect Salon For You

Finding a Korean hair salon is definitely not a difficult task. In recent years, Korean treatments have definitely nestled into Singapore’s beauty industry and many salons such as Scena Salon or Aventa have built a brand around it. However, not all salons are created equally. And, finding the perfect salon for your precious hair might be prove to be quite tricky. After all, if you are looking for the perfect body wave, you might have to sell an arm and a leg to get it and if you try a cheaper option, you might end up with frizzy, deep fried maggie-mee hair.

Well, those with shallow pockets and a fear of frizzy hairs don’t need to fear. There is no shortage of salons specializing in Korean perms and all of these salons offer their services at a range of prices. Read the reviews, check out their Instagram page and do some research. Who knows? You may find a reputable salon for a decent price range.

9. Is Your Stylist Able to Deliver

Finally, before you decide to go through with the perm, ask yourself a simple question : Do you think your stylist can deliver?

Amazing formulas and good hair care can only get you so far. The thing that you are really paying for is the service so make sure that you get your money’s worth and only go through with it if you are sure that your stylist can deliver.

10. Realistic expectations vs what the stylist can achieve

Pictures featured on their Instagram page might have been taken under a model light and, unless you intend to carry one with you everywhere you go, you will have to adjust your expectations or you will definitely be sorely disappointed.

Its probably a good idea to pick a few pictures that represent what you want your hair to look like. This way, you can have a better feel of what you want and what the stylist can do for you.

With that, our list comes to an end. Overall, perms are definitely a costly and needy investment. They require you to put in the effort to make them look good and if you don’t they rebel in the form of frizzy locks. However, just like walking in heels or wearing a jacket that is way too hot for Singapore’s climate, nothing can beat the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction when you walk into a room and you know that you look absolutely stunning!