Not all Asian hair is created equal. I have Asian friends with naturally thin hair, pin-straight hair, wavy, curly, frizzy, and more. And no, not all Asians have black/dark brown hair. I know Asians who have naturally brown, almost blondish hair as well.
My dad has a curly fro when he hair grows out. I have a picture of my uncle (his younger brother) with a natural fro in the 80s. I don’t know what my mom’s natural hair texture is because she’s always had it done as far as I can remember. But my sister and I both have wavy-ish hair…her more so than I. I have a natural C-wave when it’s long and luscious, which was why I always did Japanese straightening (and my recent obsession – digital perms). My sister’s is more curly and nappy. She had a head full of curls when she was a baby.
My hair is also really thick…and black. I never used to stay loyal to any hair salon so I’d get the same 2 remarks over and over again.
“Wow, you have a lot of hair.”
“Is this your natural color? It’s really black.”
Yep and yep. I wanted to get a trim yesterday but my hair stylist is on vacation so I went on Yelp to look for a stylist who understood Asian hair. Now it’s a race thing, yes, but it’s not a racist thing. It’s a fact that Asian hair is different. Just like how my Dominican friends go to salons that understand their hair, I go to salons that only understand Asian hair….and usually the stylists are Asian. Pure coincidence, I’m sure. Lol.
Now for my review of Misin Shin’s salon.
During my 2 hour session with Misin, I found out that he left Korea 15 years ago and he hasn’t been back. He owned 3 salons in Seoul then. This salon opened in 2011. He lives in Rutherford (not his choice) and has 2 kids (one in 5th, the other in HS). He didn’t voluntarily give this information. I had to draw it out of him. I’m good like that.
I stumbled upon Misin Shin Salon on Yelp and it has a pretty high rating. I was set on getting a junior stylist because a session with the master himself costs $200+. But when I got there, Misin came over right away, did his consultation thing, and I was sold. Why? Because he said things that resonated with me. I mean, he didn’t let me get a word in and so my first impression of him was “Damn, he’s pompous and arrogant. ” He would flick my hair and demand “What’s this? What’s going on here?” And I’m like, “WTF. How the heck would I know?!” But he started telling me that the hairstyle I had was not meant for the shape of my head. He described how he saw the style that I should have…to flow and frame my face because the style that I had was too boxy for my round face.
And you know what? I knew this even before going to him. It was nice to hear someone voice what I had thought for a long time!
He also said I had too many layers and the different level of layers don’t work for me. He said Asian hairstylists all tend do the same thing, that they thin the hair to solve every problem they encounter. At that point, I wanted to jump from my chair and shout, “YES!!! FINALLY!! SOMEONE WHO UNDERSTANDS!!”
He explained what he wanted to do to my hair and I kept nodding because I saw the direction he wanted to go and that was the direction that I was looking for. He suggested keratin to smooth out the curls and that’s where I put my foot down. I said I’ve done Japanese straightening since I was 18 and then the digital perm thing for the past 2 years. Now that I finally have my natural hair again, free of chemicals, that’s where I wanted to stay. He reluctantly agreed but made me promise to blow dry and work with my hair every morning. I hate being fussy with my hair but I said fine. Anything to not have my hair chemically treated!
The hair cutting process was interesting. Be ready to stand for a LONG period of time. I’m used to it because I stand when I can, even watching TV. He makes you stand and tilt your head in various directions and positions your body to where he needs it to be when he’s cutting. This, I think, is to work on getting your hair to flow with your movements. Every time he snips away, he’ll grunt, mutter, nod, or shake his head to himself. You have your hair washed first (thanks Christian!), he analyzes and consults with you again, and will have you stand up behind the chair. He’ll cut your hair for a good 45 minutes as he’s spinning you around. Then you sit, he dries, and then dry cuts (what he calls the design cut). Then he stands you up again and dry cuts some more before your hair is blown again. All the while, he’s still nodding and muttering to himself. The process took exactly 2 hours but man what a process!
He told me not to cut my hair for 3+ months until the layers grow out. Basically he wants my hair grown out so he can perfect it even more later on. He was upset that the bangs on the left side of my head doesn’t flow as nicely as the ones on my right side because of the many layers I was given at my other salon. Who does that? When I tipped him, I said thank you and goodbye to him in Korean and I get the impression that he was embarrassed yet pleased in a way. It’s like he’s trying to distance himself from his Korean background. Interesting.
So now I have my short hair that I’ll have to blow dry to keep the curls at bay but I do have that nifty Harry Josh Pro hair dryer at my disposal so might as well! :) I walked in wanting a trim and I walked out with a cut . All in all, I’m glad I finally found a stylist that understands my Asian hair!
It’s important to note though, that he and his salon does not only cater to Asians. I think he specializes in Asian hair but there’s a good diversity of people (including men) who go to his salon. He has a refreshing approach to hair…and that’s what works for your head/face shape no matter the race/gender. But for $200 a session, I may have to limit myself to cuts once a year with him!