Woman with wavy permed hair smiling at the camera.

Watching a Korean drama can spark a myriad of emotions. There’s anger directed at the villains, heart-fluttering excitement whenever the male lead does something cute, and deep envy whenever you see the heroine’s perfectly wavy hair. Rain or shine, the always stun with voluminous face-framing curls that stay all day. And they have the Korean perm to thank for it.

Luckily, you don't need to go to a Korean hair salon for this style. Salons in the Philippines offer this oh-so-natural perm treatment. If you want to wake up with salon-worthy hair every morning, keep reading to know the low-down on Korean perm.

What is a Korean Perm?

The Korean perm is totally different from the corkscrew curls of the ‘80s. The modern K-wave permed hair looks natural, like a . However, it can also have different styles, depending on which hair treatment you get: cold perm or digital perm.

The traditional cold perm is what most Koreans call the ahjumma (granny) curls. It uses small to medium rods and a cold perm solution, creating tighter curls. Although it’s an old technique, many salons have modified this type of perm into a more modern version, like Kim Go Eun’s hippie curls in Cheese in the Trap. The cold perm is more affordable and less harsh on the scalp. Conversely, a digital perm is more versatile in curl shapes because it uses heat restructuring and larger rods. The perm lasts much longer and is low maintenance.

If you’re on the fence about which type of perm you should get, don’t worry. Your hairstylist can walk you through the many style options. Choose among the four most popular Korean perms:

  • C-curl. The hair is straightened but the ends are curled inwards or outwards. Think of Song Hye Kyo’s hair in Descendants of the Sun.
  • S-curl. This perm adds loose curls to the bottom half of your hair. It’s a great option if you have short to medium locks.
  • Wave perm. Also known as the Goddess hairstyle, this perm gives continuous S-shaped curls from the ear to the ends. Look at Han So Hee’s hair in The World of the Married for inspo!

Is Korean Perm Worth the Money?

Not having to spend 30 minutes styling daily is one reason many people choose to perm their hair. Before you jump in, you must commit since it's quite a significant investment. The Korean perm can set you back around P4,000 to 8,000, depending on your hair length. If you want soft curls all year round, the total cost may increase since you'd need a retouch more frequently. In particular, every three to six months, when your hair begins to lose its wavy texture.

Another factor to keep in mind is your hair quality. People with very or sensitive scalp may not be the best candidate for perms. should not get permed, either.

All in all, the Korean perm is a worthy option if you do heat-styling daily. Most hairstylists would mix the chemicals with softening lotion to reduce damage to the hair, so you can have the desired look without getting your hair accidentally fried. 

What to Prepare Before Getting Korean Perm

If you’ve scrolled this far, you’re almost set on getting the K-wave hair of your dreams. Before speed-dialing your go-to hair salon, do these steps to achieve the best possible results from your Korean perm.

1. Step up your haircare game.

You should give extra love to your locks one month before your salon appointment. Regular shampoo and conditioner are not enough. Since perm solutions are drying, use TRESemmé Keratin Smooth KERA10 Smoothing Mask to improve hair moisture. Its KERA10 Protein Complex protects the hair from humidity and leaves your hair smooth and frizz-free after one wash.

Don’t stop there. Apply Cream Silk Triple Keratin Rescue Ultimate Hair Fall Defiance Treatment Shot after showering to strengthen your hair from the root. This hair serum also works to repair damaged hair from heat-styling. 

2. Plan a three-day staycation.

Remember that scene in Legally Blonde where Elle Woods solved the crime after she exposed how Chutney (witness-turned-accused) forgot the cardinal rule of hair perming? Don’t be like Chutney who washed her hair the day she got a perm. It bears repeating that you shouldn’t get your hair wet for at least 72 hours after leaving the salon to let the neutralizer work its magic. 

Avoid touching or brushing your hair during this period and close your social calendar for a while. You really don’t want a drop of water touching your newly permed hair. Read that book you bought six months ago or have a mini  at home instead.

3. Look for hair inspo.

Hairstylists are talented artists (and great listeners!), but they’re not mind readers. Check out Korean hairstyles and choose your preferred perm. It’s okay to bring several photos of different types of permed waves in case your indecisiveness gets the better of you. Showing your hairstylist your hair perm mood board will help them guide you in choosing the appropriate treatment.

But try to use photos of people who get their hair permed, not celebrities whose waves are created with a hair curler. In addition, it would be useful to find pegs similar to your and hair length.

4. Choose your hairstylist and hair package.

This step is a no-brainer. In most cases of botched perms, the problem lies in the lack of “chemistry” between the hairstylist and the client. Working with a communicative expert who is not afraid to say no for your hair’s sake and has the best curly perm products in their arsenal is super important. A professional would talk you through the process and ensure you feel comfortable.

On your part, be honest about your hair journey. If your hair has been chemically- or color-treated in recent months, just say so! Your stylist won’t judge you and will steer you to a more tailored solution. The salon may offer treatment bundles but take only what you need. Don’t hesitate to discuss the price with the stylist before booking an appointment. In the meantime, save some extra money by avoiding takeouts, shopping online for that sweet discount, and hitting pause on your afternoon coffee shop runs.

How to Maintain a Perm

When it comes to your permanent waves, we can’t stress the importance of aftercare enough. The Korean perm exposes your hair cuticles to tons of chemicals, which means the strands become dry and prone to frizziness. All that money for unruly and lifeless curls? No, thank you!

After you’ve passed the 72-hour window, treat your hair with sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner. Resist the temptation to wash your hair every day. The sweet spot is two to three times weekly for more long-lasting results. Let your hair air dry or use a diffuser, but do not use any other heat-styling tools. 

Finally, use a nourishing hair oil like TRESemmé Keratin Smooth Shine Serum. The winning combo of keratin and African marula oil boosts shine, detangles knots, and tames flyaways with no effort from you. Just apply it to your strands and use your fingers to slightly comb your hair.

How long will the Korean perm last?

A korean perm usually lasts between three to six months, depending on your hair's texture and condition, as well as your haircare routine. Extend its shelf life by avoiding heat styling, which can damage your strands.

How much is a Korean perm in the Philippines?

It depends where you go, but the typical price range is P3,000 to P8,000.

If you're looking for a change from straight hair, the Korean perm is your shortcut to getting fabulous wavy hair, but weigh the pros and cons before taking the leap. If doing high-maintenance stuff to be low-maintenance is your thing, go for it!