There are few moments in everyday life that feel as good as walking out of a salon with a fresh cut, a new color and an amazing blowout. A visit to the hair salon has the ability to make one feel like a new person, free of any worries or insecurities they may have had previous to the visit.
Yet, it has been my experience in Korea that sometimes going to the salon has a completely opposite effect. And apparently, I’m not alone. Other international residents living here have told me they often leave the hair salon feeling less secure, having been insulted (however unintentionally) by stylists, and left with a look that’s the complete opposite of what they asked for, most often because they were coerced into getting a “hot Korean style,” or were not able to communicate due to language barriers.
The fact is that I don’t have Korean hair. Nor am I Korean. I have unruly, curly hair and my own personal style is not influenced by the latest trends of K-pop. I feel like many fellow waegukin would agree with me that sometimes it can be difficult to find a stylist who can understand this.
Which is why I was utterly THRILLED when I first discovered Soonsiki Hair a few years ago.
Walk into this famed Hongdae beauty institution and you’ll immediately be greeted by a staff of incredibly hip stylists, each of whom is donned in the latest street fashions and possesses an air of cool confidence. In fact, everything about Soonsiki is cool, without being the least bit pretentious.
For the first two years I patronized Soonsiki, BK, who I like to call Korea’s own Justin Timberlake, was my stylist. However, he recently moved to Singapore, so I decided to make his former assistant Dean my new stylist.
On my most recent visit, the receptionist quickly seated me at the salon’s bar, which doubles as a waiting area, and offered a drink from an extensive cafe-like menu. Shortly thereafter, Dean sat down and talked with me in detail to ensure that he understood exactly what I wanted: Emma Stone auburn and a snip of the dead ends.
After seeing a picture of what I wanted, Dean immediately whipped up a cocktail of color that he assured me would be perfect for me. His adorable assistant began applying the color to my hair, checking on me every so often to offer some new reading material or another drink.
Soonsiki’s specialist designers have a reputation for being the top experts on dyeing non-Asian hair and their color bar is more varied than a giant Crayola box. Unlike many other salons in Seoul, Soonsiki offers toner-only coloring options, rather than the bleach ones at other places.
After washing out the color and getting a fantastic scalp massage, I was prepped for my cut.
Dean took over and prepared his scissors for a bit of snipping. As busy as he was with other customers, he took the time to talk with me, share some of his stories and his personal Instagram account.
During the cut, he assured me he wouldn’t cut off too much of my length — just what needed to be cleaned up. And he was true to his word. While he cut, I took a look around the room and saw that the stylists are very well versed in the latest funky trends (I mean, this is Hongdae, after all) but had mastered all the classic styles, as well. Each customer seemed completely at ease, often joking or engaging in banter with his or her stylist.
Dean’s assistant offered up her services once more for the styling, in which the duo battled my lion mane with a straightener, resulting in beautiful waves in a color that couldn’t have more perfectly matched what I wanted.
Soonsiki Hair’s unsurpassed hospitality, professional services and comfortable, modern atmosphere are only just a few of the reasons why it is the best hair salon in Hongdae, if not all of Seoul. Whether you need a trim, highlights, or an entire new look, this is the place to go. Do note, however, that Dean is often booked, so be sure to make a reservation in advance. (Send him a message through his Facebook page to do so.) Also, inquire about their discount for foreigners when you make your reservation.
More Information: Soonsiki Hair
Address: 5th Floor, Seokjeon Building, 29 (Seogyo-dong) Waoosanro 21-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul (서울시 마포구 와우산로 21길 29 (서교동) 석전빌딩 5층)
Phone: 02-326-5982 ~3
Hours: Daily 10am-10pm
Prices: Cuts start at 30,000 (Men) / 35,000 (Women); Color starts at 122,000; Perms start at 149,000
Get There: From Hongik University Station (Seoul Subway Line 2), walk straight out of exit 9 to the first main intersection. Take a left and walk straight until you reach Forever 21. Take a right and cross the street. Walk straight on Parking Street for a few minutes until you reach the first main intersection.Take a left and walk straight. Soonsiki will be on your right, next to Zara, on the fifth floor.
Disclaimer: Although Soonsiki provided the above-mentioned services at a discounted rate, the opinions are, of course, my own.
Words and photos by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching unless otherwise noted. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized.