K-HAIR CARE: 5 PRODUCTS TO TRY THIS WINTER
HANA CRISP on JANUARY 6, 2020
While my skincare routine is almost completely comprised of K-beauty products and my makeup stash contains about 50-50 Korean and Western brands, I’ve hardly explored the world of Korean hair care. To be honest, this avoidance was partially (and unfairly) based on my judgment of one single product, Mise en Scene’s popular Perfect Hair Serum, which I personally found disappointingly oily and ineffective. But most Korean women appear to have such soft, silky hair, so I figured that I should give K-hair care another chance.
Compared to Western hair products, Korean hair care uses more natural than synthetic ingredients, and focuses on the scalp as the starting point for healthy hair. It’s also said to be effective for all hair types, not only Korean hair! I have medium-to-long, dead-straight Asian hair, with bleached balayage – which equals dry ends. Like everything else, my hair seems to be declining with age (wahhh!), looking a little thinner, flatter, and drier than in my youth. So this winter I’m giving my hair and scalp a little TLC with the following five K-hair care products.
1. BRITISH M ANNATTO HAIR OIL
Image from British M
This hair oil has already been made famous in the Western world by Charlotte Cho of Sokoglam, so I’ve long been curious to try it. But it wasn’t until a friend of mine recently raved about it that I finally forked out the cash to buy a bottle.
The key ingredients are annatto oil – a natural sun-protectant, argan oil, and pumpkin seed oil. It’s quickly absorbed and lightweight, but still kept my dry ends smooth and soft for at least 48 hours. The strong rose and freesia fragrance, with base notes of cedarwood, is not personally up my alley, but it fades after application.
You can apply one to two pumps to towel-dried hair before blow drying, concentrating on the ends, and then a tiny bit more after styling for a nice shiny finish. Apparently Korean women use a hair oil or essence/serum every day – and I guess it shows!
This is a little pricey for a hair oil, but a little goes a long way. An all-round A+ hair oil, recommended for all hair types.
2. CURLY SHYLL PRESTIGE CLINIC HAIR AMPOULE PACK
Curly Shyll is a high-end hair care line used in professional salons in Korea. Like all of the brands featured here, except for British M, I’d never heard of it before. Curly Shyll sent this ampoule pack to our Beautchat editor-in-chief, who then lent it to me to try.
It comes with a ceramide-protein nutritional treatment, a hydrolyzed collagen booster, and a hydrolyzed keratin booster – and you combine all three to form a super treatment! At first, mixing the three products seemed like it would be a pain but it was actually kind of fun, in a home-science way. After shampooing, you apply the formula and leave in for 10-15 minutes before rinsing it out. It has a distinctive fruity but chemical scent.
What I can say for the results is: wow! This gave me bouncy, shiny, strong hair! It was the most impressive home treatment I’ve ever tried, and probably comparable to a salon treatment. Unfortunately, the price is also kinda wow…this set retails at 148,000 won in Korea (approximately $125 USD). Still, I was blown away by this product and if you have really damaged hair, I think it’d be a good investment.
3. VODANA LOVELY REFORMER INTENSIVE TREATMENT AND CAREPACK
Image from Vodana
Vodana’s Lovely Reformer line is a mid-range set of products using high-quality natural ingredients. The Intensive Treatment is a rinse-out conditioner with six kinds of hydrolyzed protein plus camellia oil – a popular ingredient in Korean and Japanese skin and hair care – and a musky floral, powdery scent. The Intensive Carepack is a leave-in conditioner with argan, rose hip, sweet almond, jojoba, and olive oils, which can be used on damp or dry hair.
Used together, these products were ultra-moisturizing and left my hair very soft and smooth, but without the elasticity and bounce of the Curly Shyll effect. (It was hard to compare with the impressive Curly Shyll, but then, the price doesn’t compare either). My only complaint is that the Intensive Carepack weighed down my hair a little, but overall I think these are good value products and I’ll continue to use them throughout the dry Korean winter.
4. TOSOWOONG SEA SALT SCRUB SCALP SCALER
As I mentioned, scalp care is a big deal in Korea: if you have a clean, healthy scalp, healthy hair should follow. The idea seems logical, and it looks like it’s influencing Western hair care trends too. Though I’ve never really paid attention to my scalp (I can hear Korean hair stylists gasping in shock right now), I’m eager to start.
The Tosowoong Sea Salt Scrub Scalp Scaler is an exfoliator for your scalp – a thick, gritty paste with little salt particles, and a fresh, menthol scent. You can use it once every 1-2 weeks in place of your regular shampoo, though it doesn’t foam up much and you need to rinse it out thoroughly. It has a slight tingling sensation that feels refreshing on the scalp, though my scalp didn’t really feel different afterwards.
As well as exfoliating excess oil and dead skin follicles, it can also remove polluted air particles, which can build up on your scalp and contribute to hair loss (yikes!), as a recent study shows. Sadly, air pollution is increasing here in Korea, so scalp exfoliation may be particularly important living in a city like Seoul.
And on that note:
5. IRORO DEAR SCALP ANTI-HAIR LOSS SERUM
Prevention is better than cure, right? The Iroro Dear Scalp serum contains a protein to promote hair growth plus ten nutritional plant-based extracts. It’s like a multi-vitamin for your hair.
Like other scalp serums, you need to apply it carefully in small amounts evenly over the scalp, to avoid it dripping down onto your face. The dropper applicator has a fun press-release button too. Massage the serum into your scalp with your fingers, which also stimulates blood flow and thus hair growth.
It’s hard to evaluate the results, but I’m happy to incorporate this step before bed; it feels like an easy preventative measure and it doesn’t make my roots oily the next day.
Ok, that’s a wrap, but I have a feeling that this is only the tip of the iceberg for me – there’s a whole world of K-hair care out there to discover! Have you tried any of these or any other Korean hair care products? What did you think?