Jan 14, 2013

Yay Korea! The Hair Salon

This is the latest in a series I'm calling "Yay, Korea!" There are a lot of things here that are just so brilliant, you don't know how you ever lived without them.

Over the weekend I finally bucked up the courage to get a haircut. It was about time. I hadn't had a haircut since I'd left the US, so my split ends had split ends.

I was apprehensive. Haircuts are always a bit of a nerve-wracking experience, especially with a new stylist. Throw a massive language barrier into the equation, and I would have been happy to walk out of the salon with any hair at all.

As I should have figured out by now, when it comes to making things convenient and efficient, Koreans are, for lack of a better phrase, on top of their sh*t.

I went to my nearest branch of Juno Hair, known amongst expats as a good place to go for an English-speaking stylist. I was convinced, however, that my branch was going to be the exception. I live in an extremely low-English area, and this salon is in the basement of the Homeplus.

I got a little nervous when I walked in because the receptionist didn't speak any English. Still, she beckoned for me to sit down and wait, so I did. A nice girl came out with a menu and asked what kind of coffee I wanted.

Um... what? I looked around. This is a hair salon, right? Yep, there's an ajumma getting her perm touched up. "OK, uh, I'll have a cappuccino please."

She smiled and bustled away. Right on her heels came a girl who turned out to be my stylist. She sat down next to me, iPad in hand, and asked me what I wanted.

"Just a trim, please."

She started running her fingers through my hair, examining the extent of the damage. She nodded,  tapped her iPad, and started flicking through pictures of gorgeous Korean women with flawless hairstyles. Coffee Girl returned and pressed a mug into my hands.

"Something like this, maybe?" she said, pointing to a girl with thick, shiny Korean hair falling in perfect layers to just below her shoulders.

Hah. Yeah. Sure. My hair is about as un-Korean as it gets, without being curly. Attempting to foist a Korean hairstyle on my fine, wispy, cowlick-ridden locks would have been...well, it wouldn't have been good.

"No, really, just a trim please. For health." I threw that part in cause Koreans LOVE doing stuff "for health." I think I got my point across because Stylist smiled and nodded.

From then on, it was pretty much a normal haircut. She washed my hair, gave it some kind of treatment to make it shiny and smell amAHzing, and gave me a 5 minute scalp massage while the treatment was setting.

Then the cut, product and blowout. I don't think Stylist had ever cut foreign hair before. She kept running her fingers through it (more than seemed necessary, anyway). At one point I believe she even uttered the words "Your hair is so fine and soft, like puppy hair."


Canine comparisons aside, it was a terrific haircut. I walked out of there with my hair looking exactly the same, only shiny and split-end free.

As with every experience like this in Korea, I cringed as I approached the checkout, thinking of the luxury in which I had spent the previous hour and telling myself that now was the time to pay for my indulgence.

As with every experience like this in Korea, I was then wonderfully surprised. The total came out to 20,000 won ($20), but they gave me what I assume was a 'new customer' discount. 18 bucks. No tax, no tip. I love this country.

Yay, Korea!

1 comment:

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