What Pinoy men need to know to get a Korean perm

If you spend a certain number of hours on TikTok, you may have come across videos of men, mostly Filipinos, getting Korean perms.

The popularity of K-Dramas and K-Pop has shed light on how dashing K-gents like Lee Jong-Seok, Ji Chang-Wook, Lee Min-Ho, Lee Dong-Wook, as well as BTS idols, NCT or EXO achieve their seemingly effortless and natural-looking wavy headdress.

For many Pinoy men whose hair grows super flat, straight, or thin, it takes a lot of styling help and long hours at the salon to be successful, Lee Jong-Suk’s hair says in “While You Were Sleeping.” You can probably do it at home, of course, but ‘super effort ang pag-style, ”says celebrity hairstylist Jing Monis. But with a good salon perm – insist “good” – it would be much easier to style your hair and sweat the allure of a Korean idol in the morning.

Lee Jong-Suk in “While you were sleeping. Photo by IMDB

The perm has been around for over a century. It is basically a chemical treatment that adds a curl or wave to otherwise straight hair. Perm is actually short for “permanent hairstyle,” which only means curls could last for months if properly groomed.

Monis, owner of The Jing Monis Salon, said that even before the Korean perm trend became The Big Thing, Korean men were already known to perm their hair. “Normal na yung nagpapa-permed sila ng hair because they want manageable hair, ”he says. “But it’s only in recent years that the younger generation has turned it into more distinct and iconic looks.”

But the Pinoy men, for their part, had been receiving perms since the time of their lolos, too much. There was a time when they rocked the sleek hairstyle using pomada. “Pag wala silang kulot masyadong apartment ang Hair nor the, so nagpapa-perm sila, ”Jing told ANCX. “But because Filipino men are aware of their masculinity, they don’t really flaunt their perms.”

Jo chang wook
Ji Chang-Wook in “Suspicious Partner”. IMDB Photo

Korean perm against others

There are three most common types of perms performed at local salons, explains international hairstylist Louis Philip Kee: traditional perm, digital perm, and perm.

With the traditional type, the hair is sectioned and wrapped around plastic rods. The permanent lotion is applied to the hair and left to set. Then, after the processing time is over, the neutralizer is applied.

With digital perm (also known as digi-perm or hot perm), curly hair is done using a combination of chemicals and heat treatment, followed by neutralizers.

Reph bangsil
Photo courtesy of Reph Bangsil

There is also something called perm, which also uses a perm and heat solution. The difference, he says, is that it comes with an intensive damage control treatment to ensure the hair is manageable and the waves and curls will be soft and shiny.

Unless you intentionally choose Jon Snow’s (Kit Harington) jet black spirals on “Game of Thrones,” you need to specifically tell your hairstylist that you would like to get a Korean perm. By that you mean hair with softer waves, not curls.

Louis observes that Korean men usually get the usual graduated haircuts, bob, pixie, and rice bowl. But to add style, movement, volume, and balance to thin, soft, straight hair, they get a perm.

The type of perm treatment that will work best for you depends on the type of hair you have. “Traditional perms are usually done if you have very thin hair,” Jing explains. “Mahirap in this case unruly hair or treated hair. Pag stubborn ang hair, I recommend a digital perm. But if the hair is normal, you can use the traditional one.

At Jing’s salon, he and his team make sure to analyze the condition of the client’s hair first before perming it. If the hair is healthy enough, then it will. But if it is damaged, he recommends preparing the hair first or applying treatments for about a month. “When we see that the texture of the hair is already good, that’s the only time we permed it. Kasi ayokong ma-shame ang buhok,” he says.


Most perms last three to eight months, depending on how the person treats their hair. To make the perm last, Jing says it’s important not to wash your hair for 48 hours after getting a perm. “You need the perm to lock in your hair. Kasi pag winash mo yan, you also eliminate the solution, so hindi tutagal ang perm, ”he reasoned.

If the hair is dry, the seasoned stylist recommends treatment after a few weeks to bring back the lost moisture. “This brings back the natural oil and moisture of the hair lost during the perm,” Jing explains.

He says it’s also important to use the right tools. A hairbrush will damage the curls, so it’s best to use a wide-tooth comb. “If you want to style it differently from how your perm was made, use a roller brush to loosen your curls and a blow dryer,” he says.

Louis recommends using a sulfate-free shampoo and a good conditioning mask.

He strongly recommends using a thermal protector when brushing or styling. “Pag permed ang hair I usually don’t use a lot of products, probably very light mousse or water based product and then styling wax just to give the shape. If you have a busy day and want to maintain a certain look, you can use a heavier styling product and lock it in with a spray so that it doesn’t budge, ”he says.

Jing Monis and Anthony Barion
Jing Monis with client Anthony Barion. Photo by @anthonybarion on Instagram

Good perm, bad perm

A Korean perm costs between 3,000 and 8,000 pesos, depending on the length and condition of the hair. A perm treatment lasts about two to four hours depending on the technique as well as the texture and condition of the hair. Louis does not recommend perming for colored hair that is discolored or sensitized.

Louis and Jing both advise Filipino men who are planning on getting a perm go to their trusted stylist rather than getting a perm at a salon they are only trying for the first time. “Men usually don’t pay attention to the condition of their hair. Minsan, no-abuse kasi ang buhok nilaHe observes, adding that he has repaired and treated so much damaged hair in the past.

For the owner of Lifestyle Salon by Louis Phillip Kee, the important thing is to choose a hairdresser who really knows about it all the time. “It’s not really tedious, but it’s a process that requires perfection,” he says, “to get the right curls and the right waves. The size of the stems matters, and so does the timing.

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