How Irene Kim’s Hairstylist Transformed My Hair

By November 8, 2016

Looking for a hair color change? So was I. Read through to see how an appointment with Irene Kim’s hairstylist transformed my hair—and the steps involved in the process of getting and maintaining the perfect unicorn hair.

Six months ago, when I met with Sunwoo Kim, the famous hair stylist responsible for Irene Kim‘s world-famous rainbow-colored locks, I was at ease. It was my first time bleaching my hair and I knew he was the best person in Korea (if not in the world) to do it. But when he suggested going purple and blue, I started to backtrack. “Will I be able to pull off unicorn hair?,” I asked earnestly—after all, just between you and me, I’m not in my early 20’s anymore. Playfully, Kim reminded me that “today is the youngest you’ll ever be.” Well said; that was all the motivation I needed.

The Process
To get the perfect hair color, he mixed in a concoction of deep blues and purples plus a hint of pink into a palette and started his work. I didn’t want to dye my whole head—one of the things I had grown tired of at that time was always having to come in for touch-ups every four weeks to take care of my roots—, so he promised to color the bottom half of my hair.  Thank god, because I was also too afraid of the dreaded scalp burn everyone talks about.

I sat in the chair for a good four hours. For the record, I’m not very good at receiving hair treatments because I always start to feel antsy after about an hour. I tried to keep up with exactly what Sunwoo was doing to get the perfect ombré fade between the hues . But the steps were too many to count, plus I got distracted when Irene Kim ended up dropping by the salon to get some touchups—true story.

One thing I do remember was how he would swirl the different colors of paste, and then apply it directly onto my hair. He used a paintbrush, small strands to larger chunks. It was all very meticulous work and he was the artist.

Charlotte Cho unicorn hair

The Hair
Just as he had made the colors swirl on the palette, he was able to transfer the look onto my hair. The result was beautiful. Every time I would run my fingers through my hair, you would see hints of the red and the purple disappear behind new hair colors. Depending on how the light would hit it and the angle you were at, it would completely transform the look.

For maintenance, I was told I would have to avoid regular showers, use lots of dry shampoo, and, when I do shower, use a purple shampoo to keep the hair color vibrant. It was clear to me on day two that pretty hair wasn’t easy to get along with.

Sunwoo told me that because he knew I wasn’t coming in for regular touch-ups, he was going to make sure my hair look great even when the colors washed out.

The Aftermath

I’ll admit that I’m really great at applying skincare, but I’m not the best at keeping up with hair care. So a few weeks later, the purples and blues washed down the drain and I was left with a more greenish tone, with blond accents. It faded faster than I would have liked (but I’m to blame since I took showers daily). That being said, I ended up loving what color remained, just like Sunwoo had promised me. It was a bit on the green side, but the orange and yellows complimented it somehow and overall my hair had a fun, carefree vibe. That was the goal I had in mind when I first sat in Sunwoo’s chair.

Six months later, I’m not entirely ready to let go of Sunwoo’s original work. My hairstylist in NYC loved the way it had grown out. He and I agreed that we were digging the gradient look, starting from the natural roots that have grown out, to the gradual lightening of the hair towards the tips. So he decided to just tone the hair (to get rid of some of the green and brassiness).

It was good to know that even though these bright blue and purple hues are fleeting, I’m left with a color and a look that I love.

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