Do you want longer thicker princess hair and have some money and a few hours to blow?
So I have very thin and pin straight hair, it will hardly hold a curl or hairstyle… makes life a little boring! I always wanted extensions to add thickness and length~ so back when I lived in California I started getting “Microlink” extenshions in San Mateo from this awesome Chinese hair-salon $400-ish, which was an amazing price since extensions can cost about $600-1000+ normally in the USA. It really gave my hair the bit of life it needed+ length I wanted.
♥ ♥ ♥
The little link style required no glue, and lasted about 2 months~ at the end of the 2nd month the root of my hair would get really knotted up though, so when It came time to remove the links (you can do it yourself with pliers and just pinch the metal piece open) I would have to spend a whole day brushing out knots and conditioning my hair to make nice-nice with it.
I read about “Japanese pinch braiding” or “Japanese braid extensions” through some beauty bloggers and remembered always seeing those braids in my fashion magazines! I was interested to try this method since I loved the links, but this braid version claimed to be even better for your hair and knot less! Surely braids would be much better for the hair vs a little metal clip. Right? Thankfully extensions ( 붙임머리 meaning “attached hair”) are very common and easy to get in Korea, especially pinch braids!
Although some people get them on the top of the head, most have them hidden under layers of their actual hair, like many other types of extensions and clip-ins. This photo is a very good example of how it looks on the scalp ~nice little braids in rows. They can vary in thickness, the thicker they are the more obvious they can appear though, so you want to find a place that will make them the proper amount for your head! I find that they do not need to be extremely small to get the job done and look natural though… some places make them so tiny, but it seems like a lot of extra work when the result with sizes like the photo above look just fine.
♥ ♥ ♥
The whole process takes around 2-4 hours depending on the skill of the stylist and how many are working on your head. My favotire places have several working on you at once~ if just ONE person braids they get really tired after an hour and it drags on even longer!
♥ ♥ ♥
How much do pinch braid extensions cost in Korea??
In Korea the prices for a full head really vairy depending on the area, so you have to shop around a bit! I have seen LOTS of specials around Edae for only 100000won ($100) but the colors are very limited and they did not act very open to ordering a different color for me. I have also been quoted $200, $300, and $500… so while it is still cheaper VS the USA, I would keep your eyes open for good and affordable places because they are here. In Japan the prices seemed to rage from 9000 yen - 30000 yen (maybe $100-$350).
I wish Korea made it a bit easier to find the affordable salons, but one thing that is tricky here with MANY things is you can easily overpay on just about everything if you are not careful here. That $50 shirt in the department store is sold on the street here for $10 if you know where to look, the same can be said for extensions
Some people say extensions hurt~ with Japanese pinch braid extensions I always found the closer and tighter they braid it to your head, the more discomfort you will feel for the first few days. I have found that every time I get this done the pain lasts less and less… first time it was 4 days, then 3, then 2, now I only feel any discomfort for maybe a day. The “pain” is really more of a headache, feels like a bruise~ and for me it was only noticeable when I went to lay down for the night. I would say the feeling is similar to wearing a headband too tight though~ but it was easy to shake off and ignore!
Not all pinch braids are created equally. Examples of a meh and bad braid…
This extension technique is common in Japan and the main one used to attach hair here in Korea, however so far (in Korea) I have had very inconsistent braiding done. The left is from Demon Hair in Edae, a very popular salon for extensions… however I found the braids too fat and only had one person doing my whole head so it took forever.
The photo on the right is the worst one I have had done in Korea at a salon I found online that are not worth mentioning by name~ the stylist knew how to do it and taught 2 young assistants and the salon ajuma how to do it on the spot…. so the result was a MESS. I had hair tied sloppy, jutting out from how crooked it was braided, plus they also did not leave enough hair OVER the braids to I had major peeking out problems and had to remove several.
This was also the most expensive job I had in Korea… expensive here does not always mean quality sadly.
If you are getting this done in Korea, make sure you stick to “hip” and “youthful” areas + go to a place that you see many girls getting this done, preferably a salon that JUST does extensions. I find that my best ones come from places that only do this service, yeah you have to go someplace else to get your hair trimmed or colored~ but it will save you stress in the long run and you will have better quality braids + they will do it a lot faster.
What length to get?
For me 18″ was VERY normal medium length and not worth the effort and cost~ I was kinda unhappy with that length. I like very long hair just past my chest so I always opt for 22″-24″ if I want some extra to trim. Long costs a bit more, but I want dramatic length if I get these done~ Princess hair!
In the states my salon kept 22″ in stock, but 18″ seems to be the average for most places.In Japan (Shibuya, Mind you) they sold 26″ and even a few colors longer, and in Korea I have had a hard time finding many options longer than 18″ at most salons~ so you may have to shop around if you want longer hair that is not black. Hair longer than 26″ often does not look as nice (depending on the supplier) and the quality can go down the longer you buy, so do keep that in mind!
I am high maintenance atm!! haha
Korea sells its hair by the inch or cm… they use cm here, but I think because the hair is often imported with inches on the bags some places do ask what inch you want. Have both in mind before you go, or ask them to show you the hair length so you can see where it falls! I would say opt for a little longer always because often the hair looks a little shaggy like you need a haircut once the braids are all attached, so leaving a little extra to trim will give you a nice clean cut + not jip you out of any final length.
♥ ♥ ♥
What colors can you buy?
If you live in the states, most salons will have a full range of colors and textures~ however since everyone has dark hair in Asia your options can be a liiiiittle different! In Korea I have had a very hard time finding salons that carry a full range of colors, it is almost always black, brown/black, and brown~ very basic stuff even around Edae where salons for young girls are everyplace! This is because at the moment for girls haircolor is often natural or very modest, so it is based on the demand. That being said, I am still hunting for good places that stock a good range of colors to recommend… I have met a few blonde Koreans that did get extensions here, so I am sure a few shops that cater to more “Funky” colors do exsit here.
For the time being, I often buy my own blonde hair for abut $90-$100 a pack online and have it shipped here~ almost all places will put in hair that you bring for a lower cost, so that is always an option if you want some pink highlights or something aside from the normal brown/black here.
In Japan I like to get my hair done in Shibuya 渋谷 ~ I HIGHLY recommend the salon Argent Sue in that area. Argent Sue is right behind Shibuya 109 and caters to really edgy fashionable girls so they have ALL the colors you could need including misc textures and fun colors (check out the menu HERE ) so if you want some pink highlights this is the place to go in Tokyo. Japan overall seems to have way more color options on average in salons vs Korea because they are a little more daring when it comes to fashion.
*** I have never had an issue with hair texture sold here by the way. I think overall it is the same remey hair that you buy in other western countries. Some black colors are a little thicker, but it was not noticably different that I would have an issue blending it into my own thin cacuasian hair***
How many grams do you want?
Some (not all) salons will ask you how many grams you would like, or even show you a price list with the grams available. This is for the total amount of hair, so the amount of grams you get will give you thicker or thinner hair. Korea seems to sometimes offer a standard amount and will just ask you how many braids or how thick you want it overall, but I found most menus in Japan do show you a gram price list.
Around 120 grams is good for someone with average to thick hair (about 80-ish braids)
80-100 grams is enough for a whole head for someone average-thin hair (about 50-ish braids)
My hair is thin, but I want to make it thicker so I opt for 100+ grams normally depending on what the salon says.
If you are bringing your own hair for them to attach, one “packet” is plenty (plus extra sometimes) for average hair and is often about 100grams. I always have about one packet of hair or less put in and it is always enough.
So most salons in Korea and in Japan (that I have found) will remove the braids for a small cost, compared to the cost of the braids it is small… but its always enough money (maybe $30-$40) that I just opt to remove myself + I have a
slave boyfriend to help me out of annoyance love. I’m selectively cheap with certain things haha.
To remove them yourself is a bit tedious, but not hard. I only need the tools above to get the job done, plus having a friend on hand to help you with the back braids or help you remove them in general makes things go a lot faster. I use the small nail scissors to carefully cut the elastic string, make sure you slide them under just a loop of the string~ you don’t need to cut it all at once either, just a small snip will often make it easy to unravel. The snipping of elastic is a little tricky, so this is the part I have a friend help me with because it is WAY faster to have someone else snip all the bands for you.
♥ ♥ ♥
Once the elastic is done I move in with my hook pick, which is actually one of those teeth scrapers that you can buy at the drugstore. I slide it into the braid and gently pick and lightly pull to loosen the braid (which will be quite tight still since it has been in place so long and may have some old product on it). Once it is loose or begins to pull downward, you should be able to take a hold of just the extension and pull down to slide it away from the natural hair! This part can take a few hours… so I usually do it in front of the tv and watch two movies while I pick and loosen the braids out.
Once the braid is out, this is what your strand looks like!! You don’t have to, but I find that it makes overall removal MUCH easier if I just go over that bend with a ceramic flat iron and run my finger through it lightly. This allows the hair to be a bit more manageable while you remove others (so you can clip it back in sections) and makes brushing easier when you are finished.
When you have all the braids out you can jump in for a long relaxing shower. My tools for this phase are..
- Cleansing shampoo to remove the oil and old buildup that was trapped in the braids
- Scalp treatment shampoo, gel, etc. I like the kinds that tingle, give your scalp a bit of TLC
- Brush that will be easy to brush wet hair with. I love the soft kind with the dipped bristles, you know the kind!
- Deep conditioner to soften everything up
When I go in the shower I always start with the cleansing shampoo, don’t jump to brushing right away! Cleanse your hair and give yourself a good scalp massage to free up the dirt, then move in to a scalp treatment or leave in conditioner. I throw a hair cap on and just leave it in a few minutes to do its job, after that with the stuff still in your hair you can *gently* start brushing while it is slippery. You want to slowly remove and knots left over, de-crink your hair from the braids, and free up any leftover extension hair or dead hair that may have been held into place by the braid.
Do not freak out if lots of hair comes out when you brush,many strands of hair fall out each day naturally~ but you had it braided into place for weeks so you are just seeing an accumulation of that.
After removal, I spend good hour in the shower treating my hair and brushing it free of all kinks. Feels really good to run your hand through your hair again after so long with the braids, so just make a relaxing evening out of it.
How long can you REALLY wear Japanese pinch braid extensions?
Even though the extensions are made from real hair, remember it is not living on your head and needs a lot of extra care compared to normal hair. I normally wear mine for 2 months on average, I have made it to almost 3 months….but it depends a LOT on the amount you wash it and the quality of hair you get. Cheap hair + lazy treatment makes it harder to manage after a month, but you can still bring the hair back to life a little with conditioning and oils (to point) something I can explain better in a related post!
♥ ♥ ♥
When it is time to say goodbye to the hair you will know. Either the braid will be too far from your head and not look as nice, or the hair will just start to look a little ratty even with extra care. It will also start knotting up VERY easily, towards the end of my 2nd month I have to always keep a brush on hand to give a quick brush every so often if I am on the go or its getting blown around a lot.
Pros and Cons
♥ ♥ Pros ♥ ♥
- Less knots
- Better for your hair VS the other methods
- No glue + Easy (but tedious) DIY removal
- Lasts 2-3 months depending on the care
- The braids can look a little cute when you pull your hair back
♥ ♥ Cons ♥ ♥
- If you have thin hair they may peek out unless you tease. Does not lay as flat as microlinks.
- special care when brushing and washing
- takes forever to dry
- you can pull your hair up, but braids will peek out
- not the greatest thing for your scalp
- this technique can cost more at some salons
I will be happy to do posts later on care and location reviews here in Korea + Japan if people are interested. If you know of a good place to get this done in Korea please do contact me, I am still on the hunt for my perfect go-to place here!