Etude Lounge; Warren Tricomi Salon at the Plaza via Warren Tricomi (on right)">

Cookie banner

This site uses cookies. Select "Block all non-essential cookies" to only allow cookies necessary to display content and enable core site features. Select "Accept all cookies" to also personalize your experience on the site with ads and partner content tailored to your interests, and to allow us to measure the effectiveness of our service.

To learn more, review our Cookie Policy, Privacy Notice and Terms of Use.

clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Best Kept Haircare Secret: It's Cheaper in China/Korea/Japantown

New, 3 comments
Etude Lounge in Los Angeles (on left) via <a href="">Etude Lounge</a>; Warren Tricomi Salon at the Plaza via <a href="">Warren Tricomi</a> (on right)
Etude Lounge in Los Angeles (on left) via Etude Lounge; Warren Tricomi Salon at the Plaza via Warren Tricomi (on right)

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

So, we've been talking lots this week about the old frizz-battling strategies, but really, those are only temporary salves. Through my experience, the real way to do it is the miracle Japanese thermal reconditioning treatment. For the uninitiated, this treatment isn't your typical smelly and hydration-sapping straight perm, nor is it the controversial Brazilian blowout. Invented in Japan back in the '90s, thermal reconditioning was always the go-to for Asian girls like me to transform unruly, semi-curly and totally frizz-tastic hair into gleaming, pin-straight locks. The phenomenon then caught on to salons outside of the Asian circle, but it still really surprises me when people don't realize that they can spend much less at an Asian salon, but still have the same quality treatment as a fancy schmancy, um, non-Asian one. Now, of course, I have my usual salons of choice, but I figured I'd ask some friends and their friends (plus, consult some Yelp reviews) for a wider range of options.

First—just to set a benchmark—this is what the high-end salons charge for the Japanese thermal reconditioning or a comparable treatment: $700 and up at John Barrett, $400 and up at Warren Tricomi and from $600 to $2000 at Bumble & Bumble.

Now before you start thinking, well, the swanky settings and posh treatment come at a price, have you seen the interior of Etude Lounge in Los Angeles? I spy cushy, creamy lounge chairs sme dark wood framed mirrors inside. Shall I also mention that the Japanese thermal reconditioning here starts at $200? Another recommended LA Korean salon Hill's Beauty Club does Etude one better charging $200+, inclusive of a haircut. Up north in San Francisco Japantown, Glam Up offers theirs for $220 and up. At the suggestion of another friend, I also checked into Kim Sunyoung, which has locations in New York, Los Angeles, Annandale, VA and Chicago (not to mention Australia and South Korea) and their fees run from $200 to $500.

The New York salons seem to have caught onto the lucrativeness of the biz a bit, as my main salon, Hair Toto Group (HTG) in Chinatown charges $300 and up, but that includes the cut (and they have this discount card option that can save up to 20%). My old place, Kakaboka in Koreatown raised their prices to $300 and up. I used to pay around $180 back in the day, but $300 is still a lot less than $700.

Now, I get it, sometimes it can seem intimidating because of a perceived language barrier, but for the most part, spoiler alert: People speak English. To prove my point—I don't speak Korean or Japanese and possess a kindergarten-level grasp of Mandarin Chinese (sadly enough), but I managed to find pricing from all the above salons.

So, there. Now the cat's out of the bag. I only hope that my friends won't be too annoyed with me when their fave salons are all of a sudden a bit more crowded than usual.
· All Hair Week Coverage [Racked]