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!

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32 Responses to “Japanese Pinch Braid Extensions in Korea (and Japan!)”

  • Awesome! I hadn’t heard of pinch braids but cool idea and very informative post. I love the black dress w/ pink bow outfit in the last few pics, btw!

  • This was very enlightening! Thanks for showing the process step-by-step.

    I didn’t realize (or I forgot) you lived in California. I’m in San Francisco! If you don’t mind sharing, what was the name of the salon you went to for extensions in San Mateo?

    • Elle:

      Hello! Ugh I wish I could give you the exact name, but yelp is hardcore (to the point even a proxy is not working!) blocked for me in Korea so I cant check the exact addy. Its called “Magic touch” or something I think… just a general name and right next to “Plato’s closet” in downtown San Mateo~ If it is still around, which I hope it is 🙂 She does micro link style though, which used to be my favorite until I started with pinch braids. No glue and she is lightning fast for one lady~ but they do knot up quite a bit after a month or so.

  • Custom avatar Ana:

    Thank you for taking the time to write about this. I was doing a search to find out how much I should charge to do pinch braids and came across your blog. It is very well written and id great detail. I thought only “people of color” wore pinch braids. You learn something new everyday. LOL!

  • Custom avatar Jessi:


    I’m also currently living in South Korea and looking for hair extensions. Can you recommend any places here? Like name and location? ^^ Also maybe include prices. I’m looking for something not too expensive, but well done!

    Thank you!

    • Elle:

      Hi Jessi! ATM I can only suggest Demon Hair in Edae, but if you are not black or brown you need to bring your own. I am still trying to find a hair market of some kind here to buy mine… but for now I just buy online or stock up when I fly to the states. So far I have paid 200000 to 300000 won for a full head here, however edae does run sales on brown and black. I am due for another set in 2-3 weeks so I will try a new place and blog about it soon. Still on the hunt for a GREAT place.

  • Custom avatar Kawa:

    Ohh I’ve heard of these before c: they look so cool. Have you tried crochet braids? It’s where you braid or corn toll your hair or parts of it and take loose hair using a crocheting needle and thread it under the braid then knot itlooks so natural and you can have as much leave out as you want.

  • Custom avatar Kawa:

    Totally different no bead thingies involved, c:

    • Elle:

      Oh these are just braids! No beads either, they like take a thin piece and braid the new hair into your hair and tie it off with some elastic! Does crochet use anything to keep it in place? I hate that here they only have black elastic because it shows up in my light hair bad :/ ugh damn my thin hair! lol

  • Custom avatar Kawa:

    Nope, you just tie the hair in a knot and let the rest hang. I could show you pictures of the ones I just got done. Well I’m not finish but it shows the idea.

  • Custom avatar michelle:


    Saw your going blond post and hair extension post. I have similar coloring; pale white skin and darker brown hair so it was SO HELPFUL thank you. I had some other questions tho:

    Where do you order your hair from? And in your post you have a picture of some strawberry blonde hair… does it match the hair dye from Tony Moly?

    I’ve gotten a “weave” track type hair extension done in Itaewon. It cost me about 80 for the procedure and I bought weft hair from Dongdaemun for around 50. People always think it’s funny that a white girl had a weave done^^ anyway, I can provide more details for you if you’d like.

    • Elle:

      So glad to hear that! Haha it is a learning process for sure ^^;
      The last few times I did it in japan, then I had a darker color in that I had to lighten myself ugh, and the latest time I bought hair online on ebay and just had them put it in. I have been looking for a place that stocks proper blonde in Namdaemun, but all of the supply shops kept telling me they just bleach the black hair…. which is so stupid since I know you can buy bulk right from china! I would LOVE to know where you managed to find blonde hair for weave being sold here~ Please do let me know! 😀 Also, what salon did you go to for your tracks? My hair is too thin for tracks so I do the braid style which I prefer, but some places do both so I am curious to look! I am checking out a place in Edae next week that orders the hair after he sees you, but the cost is about 280,000 + which is a bit overpriced vs some of the other places.

      So answer your question, I only started using the tony moly recently so I can not say for sure, but the strawberry I bought before seems to match my current hair now (its a nice blonde with a slight bit of orange so it works perfect for bleached hair lol). If I have to order online again I am going to get the same color, but yeah… trying really hard to find a Korea solution atm.

      This may be of interest to you, but in Hongdae seems to sell LOTS of colors for extensions~ They just only do the bonding style weave so I have not tried them yet!

  • Custom avatar michelle:

    Hey!! I actually didn’t find blonde hair for weaving, I had it done in #4, which is my natural hair color…

    I did a test strand with Tony Moly – they have an ash blonde color and milky blonde color. Both didn’t turn my hair as light as I wanted, so I did some research online on how to go blonde @_@ and spend a couple days watching videos on diy, etc.

    Anyhow, I ended up buying bleach & developer on Gmarket and doing it at home. I bleached it 2x and put in the Tony Moly stuff, but it turned into a yellow mess! I was so embarassed. I had to wear a hat to school the next day lol.

    I hoofed it to Hair n Joy in Hongdae and Johnny helped me correct it. I was really picky with the color I wanted, and he had to bear with me a few tries to get the right color. He does charge around 100,000won for each bleach, so I would recommend doing the first couple times on your own.

    Anyway- to summarize, to go blonde in Korea, I diy’ed and failed, went to Hair n Joy to fix it. I will be buying hair extensions from eBay to have weaved into my hair in a couple of weeks.

    • Elle:

      Aw sorry that happened to you!! Yeah I have never used the Tony color AFTER bleach, just with my color and to lighten~ if you see my current pictures on blogs it took two boxes now to get it that light + hairdryer all over~ I think it more of a sunny orange blonde though. How was your hair after 2x bleach?? I can only do bleaching once~ last time I did it twice in one go it killed my hair (still growing out the damage) but I have very thin hair so could just be a me issue. I bet it was so bright because you maybe needed some proper toner in it after stripping it VS bleach and color like in the tony moly box… I remember mine almost glowed when I first went blonde 3 years ago with double bleaching before I got a nice bottle of toner to make it a real blond vs neon *__* If you need some treatments lots of the salons here have hair repair things after bleaching they can do for you~ I think I paid about 80,000 for a hydration treatment 2-3 times last year at podo mall that works very well.

      What was your total damage cost at hair and joy if you do not mind me asking? I refused to go because they quoted me at like 380,000 won to touch up my roots and fix up my color a bit….

      I found a few places in Edae recently that said they can order blonde and do other color extensions… but lol, I am going to tokyo on Tues so I am just going to get it at my usual place in Shibuya since it is so flipping cheap and easy with every blonde under the sun. Someday I will find a proper place to do this in Korea I hope 😛

  • Custom avatar poli808:

    hi! i <3 your blog and FB page. I'm hoping to go to Seoul and Tokyo next year…and making a list of places to go. Are there any places in Seoul that do eyelash extensions? Also, i love love your cellphone case, where did you get it from? i would love to buy online!

    • Elle:

      Hello! Eyelash extension places are super common here, but I have long lashes myself so I have not tried them or priced them yet. I do plan on finding this out eventually though, so please keep an eye out on the blog for that post 😀 I made the phone case myself with a deco sheet, a pile of extra stones, and a blank flip case I bought here ♥

  • Custom avatar michelle:

    Hi again!

    When I went into Hair n Joy, I was neon yellow in certain spots but had already bleached 2x, so didn’t want to go the third round on my own. Johnny recommended I get highlights, so that after the toner, the color would be broken up a bit. It set me back 140,000 because I had long hair.

    I ordered Shimmer Lights off eBay. It’s purple shampoo that helps balance out the yellowness which has been creeping on me. Korea’s water must have some miinerals or something that is turning my blonde hair brassy. Shimmer lights did the trick, but makes me smell like a grandma. I’m going to try Aveda blue molva after I’m out, since they carry Aveda products here =)

    Toner is impossible to find here!! I’d like to find Wella T-14, but can’t find. Have u had any luck?

  • Custom avatar Kuri:

    Thanks for posting about this. It is very hard to find this kind of thing in England. My main questions are; can you link me to the hair you buy online?
    What does the hair look like? Is it really long and then they double it and plait it into your hair? or? I am confused on how it works.
    I once diy my own, were I took the extensions which are on a row (clip in) cut them and then got my mum to bend the top and inch or so down and braid that into my hair and then secure it with and elastic band. Is this how its done in Korea/Japan?
    Do they always apply it onto wet hair?
    Thanks for you help. I hope my questions make sense. I love your fashion and I hope to talk to you!

    • Elle:

      Hi Kuri~ Lets see if I can answer some of your questions 😀
      #1 can you link me to the hair you buy online – sorry I buy mine in a shop so I can match my color since it changes a lot! I know lots of people just buy on ebay from china though!
      #2 What does the hair look like – It is on a weft right out of the packet and they just cut small pieces of it off at a time (away from the weft, or whatever it is called~ they just want the hair!) and braid it straight down with a bit of your own hair from the scalp down maybe an inch and secure with an elastic string.
      #3 Do they always apply it onto wet hair – The hair is dry, but just before they braid sometimes they will sprat a bit of water to make it easier to braid that small part.

      This braid method is one of the most popular (if not main, although I know a few places that do use the bonding method) in Japan and Korea 🙂 Hope that helps!

  • Custom avatar elena:

    Hi I have a question what kind of extensions should I buy on ebay for pinch braiding? Would the pre bounded keritin hair work?
    like this :

    • Elle:

      The hair needs to be loose so if you did buy those you would have to trim the keratin tips off which could waste a bit. I have always bought it on the weft, it looks like this then the hairdresser cuts each bit they need off the weft~ they do not actually use the weft in your hair with this method though, only hair and elastic string.

  • Custom avatar Jay:

    What places did you find in Korea that do “pinch braids”?
    Or do you know the Korean term for this?

    I’ve been looking but have only heard of blade extensions.

    Cheers ^^

    • Elle:

      Many places do this, lots around hongdae and edae. I have no idea what a “blade” one is… Are you sure they did not say ir write “Braid” in konglish making it sound more like blade?

  • Custom avatar Jay:

    No, my Korean co-teacher had called and is was “blade”

    Could you give me the name of one in Hongdae?

    My other searches have only shown sew-ins.

    Thanks 🙂

    • Elle:

      Strange! Again, since so many places seem to offer the braid and bond style I do not have a list of them since I do not do them here myself anymore (the process for blonde hair here is foolish sadly) if you type 붙임머리 + hongdae you should find plenty!

  • Custom avatar Chrissy:

    This blog has me really interested and when I go to Japan at the end of next month, I want to give it a try. I recently got a short haircut I do not like and would love to get some brown ext. The site that you posted for Argent Sue is all in Japanese. Do the people there speak english? What was the total cost to get everything done for you? I read that if you have short hair, you should get like 60 strands or so. What do you recommend? Thank you!!!

  • Custom avatar April:

    hey again~ i used to get micro-rings done at this great mom&pop place in Shin
    Chon (신촌) (by Hongdae- my spelling may be atrocious lol) — but do you really prefer the pinch braids to the micro rings? the braids dont matte like the rings do? i was able to keep my rings for about 3 months each time, but i have to be able to put my hair up everyday for work… thoughts?

    • Elle:

      Hi April~ oh awesome, if you have a name or phone number to share I am sure others will be interested! Honestly after having both I really prefer the braids over the rings~ you know how after the first month they always seem to knot up close to your scalp? that would happen to me in several places no matter how careful I was (I think it was from sleeping) but the braids NEVER knotted for me, not once! They stay in (aka look nice) about the same amount of time (2-3 months) but I have had friends who kept them in much longer because they did not have roots growing in or anything like I do.

      This is also a personal pref. but some prefer the look of the braids in the hair when you pull your hair back vs the rings~ for me it was kinda 50/50 I guess, I like the look of the braids a bit more, however they are a bit thicker sometimes so if you are getting the rings done finely and you are happy with pulling your hair back with those you may want to stick with them. If you do not have roots growing out the braids sometimes do not stick out so bad and look like you kinda wanted them there if that makes any sense ^^

  • Custom avatar Jo:

    Hi Elle, great blog!! I was recently quoted 450,000 for braid full head (around 80) at 24 inch…so i am guessing this is not really a good price?? she is charging 60,000 per row of 10…

    Jo 🙂

    • Elle:

      In korea the prices are a lot higher vs japan! I would say anything under 500,000 is a good deal~ just make sure you know they do it on a regular basis… many places in korea offer the service but do a bad job at the braids because they do not do it very often.

      • Elle:

        Just to add, the closer to 200, 00-300, 000 you can get, the better! Around edae they have sales a LOT for even less, but the selection is usually just black and quite short

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