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The magic straight perm

The Magic Straight, stage 1After receiving two requests from readers about Korean hairdressers in London who do hair straightening, I thought I’d do a bit of research.

My first problem was this: why on earth would Koreans (and Japanese for that matter) want to develop complex mechanisms for straightening hair when their hair is straight anyway?

The Chosun Ilbo has the answer:

Most Asians in fact do not have naturally straight hair, and today few of them have time to dry their hair naturally without a hairdryer.

Misconception number 2: I thought perms were something your average ajumma had, and were designed to make your hair go curly.

Wrong again. Kim Hye-soo, the owner of Korea’s most beautiful face, is far from being an ajumma.

So what are the problems? Well, it takes four to five hours and can therefore damage the hair

Another reason is that the perm gives a strong impression that it is artificially styled, which goes against the current trend of emphasizing naturalness. Another draw back is that the procedure doesn’t make thin hair voluminous.

The Magic Straight, stage 2If you want to know how Kim Hye-soo overcomes these knotty problems, read on in the Chosun Ilbo.

But how, you might ask, does a “magic straight” work? The Seattle Post-Intelligence has the answer, as well as providing the helpful images displayed here.

The process is a complicated one: Hair is treated first with a specialized foamer to protect the hair, then the straightening solution, which breaks the shaft’s cystine bonds and has the same potent smell as regular perm solution. Hair is then coated in plastic and left under a heater for up to 40 minutes, depending on its texture and wave. After a washout and blow dry, specialized flat irons (which can adjust heat between 150 to 220 degrees) are used on one-inch sections of hair. The ironing process can take up to an hour and a half, sometimes employing two stylists at once. The irons permanently lock in the straightness.

Like regular perms, neutralizer is then applied and left in, which stabilizes the pH balance. Hair is then rinsed, treated and blown dry.

As with perms, clients must not shampoo their hair for two days. During this period, they also must leave their hair perfectly still — no barrettes, pins or bands. Some even warn against tucking your hair behind your ear for fear of bending the hair permanently before the shaft has completely stabilized.

The Magic Straight, stage 3All of which sounds terribly complicated, not to say dangerous, and one can only wonder at the dedication of the voluntary victims of such a process. And also, these treatments don’t come cheap. The minimum price in London seems to be £150.

Still, asked to choose between someone with a Farrah Fawcett hairdo and someone with a magic straight, other things being equal I’d go for the latter.

34 thoughts on “The magic straight perm

  1. Hi! I had to post a comment regarding “magic straight”. I was stationed in Korea, and my hair is EXTREMELY curly. I usually went to get it “flat ironed”. It was suggested to me to get it “magic straghtened”, I was worried, but said what the hell, its only hair!! I got it done, granted, the first time took around 5 hours, but it was WELL worth it!! I love it, and only wish they did it in the states.

  2. Does anyone know any Korean or other asian hair salons in London/New Malden who do magic straight?
    Which is the cheapest?

  3. i live in California, and i get my hair ‘magic straightened’ once every year, it costs around 200$ (because of my hair length) but its worth it. It doesn’t take 5 hours, it takes around 3 to 3 1/2. It doesn’t even damage my hair as much compared to dying it. So, if your willing to dye you hair, it should be no problem to get the magic straight perm.

  4. I just got my magic straight perm the other day. The hairdresser told me not to do
    anything with my hair after 72 hours or 3 days. I was wondering if my hair would still
    be soft and shiny after i take a shower on the first day i wash my hair?

  5. when I was in S/korea I got my hair magic straightened in Chonan city…It was the best ever, my hair was straight as and healthy too! It did take awhile, but well worth it! laste about 3 years.and i’m due for another one..however am in Australia now..and am not sure if they do it here.

  6. does anyone know of any good, inexpensive places for magic straight perm/thermal reconditioning in seoul?


  7. um well, i got my straight perm about 5 days ago, and i wanna go swimming. is it ok or
    will da chemicals from the pool damage my hair??? HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. I got my hair straightened with Liscio (a Japanese product) 2 days ago. Unfortunately, I was out in a rainstorm without an umbrella today and got completely soaked from head to toe. I decided to wash my hair when i got home, although the salon person said not to get your hair wet for 72 hours… i am scared my straight perm is ruined…does anyone have prior knowledge or experience?

  9. Hi
    i have thin hair soo would it be to much on my hair if i got this kind or perm…because most ppl i talk to say that is is really bad for your hair???

  10. my cousin swears by magic straight but she lives in new york does anyone know of any salon in denver colorado that uses magic straight if so please give name and address of salon if available

  11. Hello,
    So I’m mixed with black and white and i have really curly hair. I usually relax my hair, but have been thinking of having it magic straightened. My hair is of ‘Black’ Origin So its Kind of course but not too course. I’m Just worried Ill be wasting my money on it if it doesnt work. And if it does work, Will it make my hair “flowwy”?
    Becuase when I Relax it its kind of just sits there in one spot.

  12. Hi All! I am in Australia and i have done the magic perm 3 times (once every 6 months) and love it. I wish they had it when i was growing up instead of getting teased about my puffed up curly hair. My question is : Where can i go (in Sydney) to learn this method?

  13. Hi, I got magic straight done yesterday. I saw the advert on the gumtree website and decided to try it out. I took 5.5 hours as I had thick and curly roots. It cost around £100. I am waiting to wash my hair on wednesday and I am hoping my hair will stay silk smooth, straight and soft!

  14. Hi, I got magic straight done on Friday, but the stylist told me not to wash it for a week!!! It’s been 3 days. I have naturally oily skin and hair so this is driving me nuts. Should I go ahead and wash it or wait the full 7 days?

  15. Heya!
    I had Magic Straight done by a wonderful lady in Gangbyeon in Seoul (not far from the metro)…. I don’t know if i have her details but either way, they’d be in Korean so couldn’t read them..
    I didn’t wash it or tie it for a good few days, and when i washed my face i tied cloth around my head so it wouldn’t get wet – carry an umbrella everywhere!
    After that it was a miracle – it will last until your hair grows out (i.e. longer than 6 months and then it’s only the roots that will feel odd)
    If your hairdresser is good, you will have got a decent protein treatment so as not to damage the hair – i found no damage problems.

    Two things:
    Helen, wait the full 7 days. 😉
    Sharmila – where did you go – which city/salon?

  16. I did the Magic Straight a week ago; I’m 100% Nigerian I had coarse dry tight hair that was ALWAYS in knots. The magic straight works, it is much better than the relaxers because it lasts longer and requires less maintenance. However DON’T be fooled nearly EVERY chemical treatment done on hair weakens it. Magic straight is no exception, I recommend strengthening conditioners in order to prevent breakage and I highly recommend Brazilian Keratin treatment.

  17. I’ve been getting my hair straighten for the past 6 years. The first 3 years have been great. The last 3 I’ve been very disappointed with the result or should I say lack of results. I’m not one to complain but now I’m upset because I feel like I wasted my money. Should I go complain? It’s been only two weeks and the perm is gone! I usually get my perms from kim sun young in k-town in LA. I wouldn’t even know where else to go. Any recommendations?

  18. I just got my hair magic straightened at a Korean salon in Seoul. It’s on the street right in front of Sookmyeong University. I hope that helps karen. I only paid 50,000 won. That’s forty something U.S dollars I believe.

  19. If you get magic straight done to your hair are you still able to get it dyed or is that really horrible for it?

  20. Hi, I am in jacksonville, FL and planning to get my hair straightened ,
    I have shoulder length , not really long hair .
    does anyone has an idea where to go? and how much pricey it will be ?

  21. My hair is thick, kind of curly or spongy and I would love to use ”magic straight ” but at the same time my hair need to be colored ’cause my grey hair.
    I wish somebody could help me with this

  22. I know of an excellent Korean hairdressers in Warren Street London W1 J Hair . They specialise
    in YUKO straightening and Brazilian hair treatments. I had mine straightened a couple of
    weeks ago and am delighted with the results. I was also surprised at how little they charged

  23. I love magic straight! I have a great salon in Orange County, CA, USA: Delerbang on Newport Blvd in Tustin. Ask for Michelle or John only. They speak just enough English to give you a consult (their primary language is Korean) but don’t be intimidated by that if you don’t speak Korean. Very nice people. I have done magic straight with them twice with great results, and have sent my friends there, too. Very nice people, and they are willing to negotiate pricing depending on the length and texture of your hair. As a side note, they refuse to do blonde or highlighted hair, as they should!

  24. Does any one know where a Hair stylist can get Magic Straight on a regular basis here in Ontario, Canada

  25. My hair is SUPER thick and SUPER curly so today im going to get my hair trimmed so im going to look into this ‘magic straight’. If anyone has done this:

    *Is it good?
    *How long does it last?
    *Is it expensive?

    If someone can please reply I will be very happy! thanx XoXo 😛

  26. hulloh c:
    So I currently live in Korea, but before I moved here I used to visit a lot and usually got my hair magic straight permed during my visits. I let my hair rest for a year between perms over this last year and on Wednesday I had my hair permed again. My hair is naturally thick and EXTREMELY curly. After putting chemicals in my hair (they had to do it multiple times) and washing and straightening it, it came out smooth, sleek, and straight. However, I was wondering how long should I wait to wash it? I’ve had answers ranging from 24 hours to 96 hours. I’ve waited 40 hours so far, but my hair is getting greasy at the roots and I have to go to work. I don’t want to mess up the perm at all though. Oh, and the place I went only charged 80 bucks (80,000 won) :3

  27. I’ve heard of magic perms and I always thought they were just available in Korea, is there a place to get it professionally done in London?!
    It would solve my number one problem of massive thick curly hair. It would save me so much time and effort straightening!!

    If anyone knows any London places to get it done please tell me 😀 thanks!

  28. Hi, is magic perm and Brazilian keratin treatment the same thing ? and does J hair in warren street has asian hairdresser ? Thanks.

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