For guys with stubbornly straight hair, it’s easy to tell when we need a new haircut. At right about 3 weeks since the last cut, the sides of our hair will start to stick out weirdly like a porcupine.
Agent GS after not cutting his hair for 5 weeks
And that is pretty normal. Typical Asian hair grows perpendicular to the scalp. This causes the hair to grow outwards, sticking out straight for that signature puffy look. Although we don’t pay attention to it often, it’s one of those things that makes men’s hair look subtly unkempt.
It always gets us perplexed. How then is it even possible for Korean stars achieve the long hairstyles without applying tons of gel?
BTS Jung Kook with long curly hair
Whether you're thinking of Jung Kook's suave long hair or the immaculate hairstyle for Song Joong Ki in Vincenzo, Korean celebrities seem to have this sorcery down pat.
Song Joong Ki as Vincenzo
It is no longer sorcery though, once you get to know their secret to taming your stubbornly straight hair: Down Perm.
If you follow hair trends on Tiktok or Youtube, you may have heard about this must-try Korean hair service for men.
Typically when you hear “perm”, you'd think of curls and waves right? This is the OTHER perm technique that has been popular on Tiktok and Youtube for helping men manage stiff hair that sticks outwards, giving you perfectly shaped hair without a sticky gelled look.
The process is similar to any other perm. The perm lotion breaks existing hair structures and then re-forms the keratin bonds whilst the hair fibers are held down.
This “resets” the default position your hair sits in, allowing it to lie flat.
Why do we want that though?
The problem with stiff straight hair is that it tends to restrict the type of hairstyles you can go for. We can pull off undercut and fade hairstyles for sure but our hair is often so stiff that a proper pompadour can't be attained easily.
We can throw any trending men's styles out the window since most will require our hair to lie flat to achieve the style.
Yoo Seung Ho in Remember
With a Down Perm, things can be vastly different.
As long as you share a few photos and have a good idea of what you're looking for, your stylist can customize the down perm to help you get there. Some styles require down perm on the sides while others may need your crown to be softened as well. You can even throw in some curls to give your hair some texture, if you wish!
With sides of the hair straight, styling is a breeze as you can wax and gel your hair in any direction and it will actually stay this way the whole day.
With a down perm, you can now afford to keep a longer hair length, which will definitely change the type of hairstyles you can go for and extend the time to your next cut.
Where to go for a Down Perm though? Given that the technique comes from Korea, we think it best to head to an authentic Korean salon to get your first Down Perm done. Where best to go than the instragrammable LeeKaJa Korean Hair Salon @ Mandarin Gallery? This salon has painstakingly gathered many of Singapore's top Korean stylists and even brought a number of them from Korea to Singapore.
Want to know exactly how the Down Perm is like? We follow Agent GS to LeeKaJa Korean Hair Salon to find out.
Hi, I’m Agent GS, a Year 2 going on to Year 3 university undergrad.
Normally, I actually don't do anything to my hair. I don't know why, but it's just impossible to style and ends up looking the same.
Especially a few weeks after a haircut, when my sides are at that awkward puffy length, I just can't comb it down or anything so I just leave it. Can relate right?
During this WFH period, I don't have to see anybody so my hair grew really long.
I was thinking about cutting it when Agent G asked me to check out Vincenzo. I haven't watched the show TBH but my Tiktok FYP was filling up with images of Vincenzo and Vincenzo wannabes that it got me kind of intrigued.
This guy looks good for sure but in my mind, I knew my hair would NEVER be able to look like that.
My hair is so stiff and straight, it's like a porcupine y'know. I'll never been able to flatten it and get it looking like that.
What if there was a way to change your hairstyle and make it look like that. Do you want to try?
Agent G shared that there is a new Korean down perm to help men soften their stiff straight hair and asked if I would like to give it a go.
A brand new treatment that could get me looking like a star? HMU any time!
When Agent G mentioned that she'll arrange a down perm for me, I did not expect it to be at ultra posh LeeKaJa Korean Hair Salon. I mean, this place is right smack in the middle of Orchard at Mandarin Gallery and looked more like a garden paradise than a salon.
My appointment was the first in the morning so when I arrived, the staff at the reception escorted me to a sofa while my stylist prepares the seat.
It was really interesting how the thermometer was also dispenses hand sanitizer.
How cool was that?
Soon after, David came by to introduce himself. As you can guess, David is a Korean stylist but he's not like any other. After checking his profile on Beauty Undercover, I realized that David has even styled for celebrities such as Girls' Generation, f(x) and even Miss Malaysia.
His expertise shows through within seconds of the consultation. TBH, I don't have a clear idea of what I want. Usually at regular barber shops, I can only say things like "Trim the top a bit" or "High slope", so when David checked my hair texture and pulled out some photos to show me hairstyles that would be suitable, I was pretty impressed.
I've never tried most of them before but the one that appealed to me the most is this one from Jung Hae In.
To achieve this, David shared that he would have to do a downperm on the sides to get the hair moving downwards and also soften the hair at the top to make it less spiky.
I don't fully know what that means but something tells me that David is a guy who knows what he's doing.
The wash is always something I look forward to in every haircut. I wash my hair every day but it just doesn't feel as shiok as when someone else does it for me.
The shampoo smells good and my hair just feels exceptionally clean afterwards.
But LeeKaJa Korean Hair Salon takes it to another level with auto-reclining chair and very nice decor; I can so imagine my future gf loving this place when I bring her here next time.
Notice not if but when.
Back at the seat, David gave the sides of my hair a trim.
And by a trim, I really mean trim.
Instead of using scissors to cut off huge chunks of hair at one go, David used this special technique to get my hair into a perfect fade.
This was the first time someone trimmed my hair like this - really cool, isn't it?
David then touched up the sides with a clipper and some final cuts at the back.
By this point I already saw a noticeable upgrade, so the cut is definitely worth it.
As I've never done any chemical services at a salon, the next few steps were new to me.
First, David sectioned my hair and meticulously lathered the sides of my hair with the perming lotion..
This was pretty important as it will make the hair along the sides softer, allowing me to attain longer Korean hairstyles without my hair sticking out.
To keep the sides down during the perming process though, David applied waxy pieces of paper on my hair. He explains that this would hold the hair in place while the keratin proteins were restructured.
Then, he applied the softening lotion to the rest of my hair.
To accelerate processing and keep the hair in shape, he bound the sides with a linen strap and covered the crown with a cling wrap.
Then, we let the perming lotion process for about 15 minutes.
Just 15 minutes and you can see how much flatter my hair is!
Once everything was off, I was escorted to the wash area for the final wash of the day.
Definitely enjoying this!
Back at the seat, David gave me a final trim and a blow dry.
By this point, I could already feel how smooth and easy it was for him to run the comb through my hair!
Ready for the final result?
Here it is!
I was surprised at first by how flat the sides were but love how easy it is to style now that my hair is softer and much more amenable.
The top is also looser and relaxed compared to the puffball I dealt with before.
It does have just a bit of that Korean TV look, but still looks very natural.
While I'm nowhere like Song Joong Ki or Jung Hae In, I feel that the down perm made me look a lot more polished than before.
I walked in a boy
But possibly walked out of the salon successfully masquerading as a working adult.
Even my mom found it hard to recognize me in this new get-up.
What did you do to your hair? You look completely different!
It may just be a haircut but people are starting to look at me different. Instead of treating me like the ah boy they are used to seeing, my boss, my dates and even the cai fan auntie seems to treat me more seriously.
Thank you David for the total image change!
In just 1.5 hours, David managed to helped me see a new side to myself with a solid cut and awesome perm.
Looking forward to my next time I'm able to come by.
Any student promotion available, LeeKaJa?
Want to try the Down perm at LeeKaJa Korean Hair Salon?
LeeKaJa Korean Hair Salon is giving away a FREE Korean Cream Bath (Worth $150) if you head down for Men's Cut + Perm.
Ladies who're keen to get a perm here are also eligible for the FREE Korean Cream Bath (Worth $150) when you come down for a perm.
All you need to do is to quote Beauty Undercover when making the appointment.