Korean Hair Styles Drive Fashion

Five years ago, the US thought of Koreans in terms of cars and electronic gadgets. Increasingly though, Korean images are in our televisions and cinemas with their soap operas, horror movies and romantic comedies. Now, Korean styles are helping shape our hair fashions.

WED/THURS - KBS - MY FAIR LADY 아가씨를 부탁해 (2009)
My Fair Lady-Source: flickr.com

For some Americans, it’s hard to distinguish between Korean hairstyles and those of the rest of Asia, but aside from the black straight hair common to most Asians, there are subtle differences. While Japanese hairstyles tend to imitate Anime, and Chinese hairstyles tend to be more conservative, Korean hairstyle tend to more chic and urbanite.

For young men, styles tend to be longer, with layers. Some have used the term “modern mullet”, with hair layered short on top and the the back just long enough to cover the nape of the neck. Volume is added to this hairstyle with blowers, gels and hair sprays. Hair wax is used to make it look “piecey” versus the spikes commonly seen on Japanese and emo hairstyles. The effect is close to softly windblown hair or the ever-coveted, natural-looking “morning bed hair.” Longer bangs also gives the wearer a younger look.

Traditionally, Koreans value long, flowing tresses on women and most still adhere to this tradition, but some of the younger generation are testing the waters with a kind of “mushroom bob”. This was sported by the K-pop group Wonder Girls in their Nobody music video.

For long haired women, one of the variations is “Princess hair.” Hair is lightly curled from roughly below the ears, leaving the rest straight, with the bangs parted to one side. This hair has a very high “cute factor”, which can be further enhanced with the use of accessories. For the more adventurous, layering hair will give it a more streamlined appearance and make the wearer look slimmer. The Korean-style “messy bun”, is another emerging fad.

Bobs are the now popular in Korea for younger women, who prefer less maintenance. You can have your bob sleek, curly or layered. Or you can have it really short, like actress Yoon Eun Hye‘s hair in the Korean dramaCoffee Prince.” The most important component of Korean hairstyles is the straightness of the hair. It is this one characteristic that makes Korean hairstyle effective. “Magic Straight”, the Korean hair straightening technique, is usually the first step for Korean women whose hair is not naturally straight.

Anastasia is a salon hair stylist in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Out of town appointments welcome.This page is in Korean.

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