Korean perm vs Digital perm

by Tommy Sroski

So you’re thinking of getting a perm. Maybe you’ve seen a few pictures of Korean models on Instagram or Tumblr, perhaps you just want to look like the beautiful women of your favorite K-dramas, maybe you want to shake it up, but you’re not sure which kind of perm is right for you. 

There is far more to perms than most people realize, and in order to keep your hair healthy and to get the look you’re after, you need to know what kind of perm is going to look best on you and how to keep your hair healthy despite bleaching and dyeing your hair.

To help make your decision easier, we’ll cover the two most popular kinds of perm hair, the Korean and Digital perm, and the differences between these two.

What is Korean Perm?

Popular Korean Perm Vs Digital Perm

Korean perms are inspired by the popular soft, wavy hairstyle sported by Korean actresses and K-pop stars. They’re not like traditional perms, which can look stiff and spring-like — they produce a more natural look with waves that frame your face and give your hair volume.

Moreover, it is wonderful because it won’t give you the dreaded hair day and, it is low maintenance and lasts a long time with the right after-perm care. It’s also wash-and-wear, so there’s the benefit of having beautiful locks without the burden of upkeep.

While the perm only lasts for 6-8 weeks, it’s a fun way to experiment with a new style and is especially great for hair that’s been damaged by coloring. Depending on the stylist you choose, you can have a more natural wave or a full set of curls.

How much does Korean Perm cost?

The cost of a Korean perm varies depending on the salon, but prices tend to be around $100-300 USD. Of course, this can vary depending on whether you’re receiving other services along with your perm or whether you need to pay any extra fees.

For example, some salons will offer cheaper pricing if you don’t need to use perm rods, or you may be expected to buy specialty shampoo for your permed hair afterward.

What is Digital Perm?

Digital perm, also known as an S-perm or 3D-perm, is a perm that uses heat to create curls. The process takes longer than a more traditional perm, but you get a more natural look and feel, which is worth the extra time.

Top Korean Perm Vs Digital Perm

It is excellent for people who have naturally straight hair and want to add some curl without making the change permanent. It’s also great for people with curly hair who want to smooth out their curls but don’t want to relax their hair.

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The digital perm process involves wrapping the hair around rods, applying a conditioning solution, and then using heat to set the solution and make the hair curl. You can find this done at most salons, but it does take several hours and is therefore expensive.

How much does a Digital perm cost?

Since it is a salon service, you can expect to pay anywhere from $200 to hundreds of dollars depending on how long your hair is and how many rods you use. It is one of the more expensive types of perm, as it involves a long process. However, it is great if you have naturally flat, straight hair and want curls.

Differences between Korean perm and Digital perm

Korean perms and digital perm are very popular these days because these types of perms are less damaging to the hair than traditional Japanese- or Chinese-style perms. With Korean perm and digital perm, you can change your look without cutting your hair or using chemicals. In this section, I will discuss the differences between Korean perm and digital perm.

Approach to perm

The most important difference between Korean perm and digital perm is the approach to perm. When you get a Korean perm, the hair is permed without perm rods. With digital perm, the hair is permed with perm rods. While the Korean perm is less damaging, the digital perm is the opposite. However, both types of perms can be customized easily. You can choose a fanned perm, a whole perm, or a half perm.


The process of Korean perm and digital perm is different too. With the Korean perm, they use a brush to dab the perm on the hair to activate the perm; then, you can cool your hair with a hairdryer to let the perm stay longer.

With the digital perm, you would use a perm rod to perm the hair. Then, you can use a perm cream to keep your hair straight for a long time.


The time of Korean perm and digital perm is also different. It takes around 3 hours to perm the hair with the digital perm. On the contrary, the Korean perm only takes about 40 minutes.

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The difference between Korean perm and digital perm is that the digital perm will damage your hair and make it look thinner. When you perm your hair with a digital perm, your hair will get shorter, and you will have to cut the ends of your hair when the perm gets piled up. On the other hand, the Korean perm will damage your hair a little, but it will not make your hair look thinner. You will still have the same volume of your hair as always.

Hair Type

When you are perm your hair with a digital perm, you need to make sure that your hair type is thick. The reason for this is that the digital perm will damage your hair if your hair is not thick. On the other hand, the Korean perm works really well for girls with thin hair. The Korean perm will make your hair look thicker and more beautiful.


The liquid used in a Korean perm is different from the liquid used in the digital perm. The perm liquid used with the digital perm contains more ingredients than the perm liquid used in the Korean perm. The perm liquid used in digital perm contains ammonium thioglycolate, while the perm liquid used in the Korean perm has glycerol.


The aftercare for Korean perm and digital perm is also different. Digital perm requires using the included conditioner to leave on the hair for 10 to 15 minutes before washing it off. The aftercare for the Korean perm is to protect the perm at least for a week and wash it with a mild shampoo.

Ways on how to take care of your Korean and Digital perm

Getting permed hair is a great way to spice up your look, but it can easily become a pain if you don’t take care of it. A lot of people really like the look that comes with permed hair, but they aren’t sure how to make sure that their hair continues to look good until their next appointment. The tips in this section may give you the best shot at getting the hair of your dreams and keeping it for as long as possible.

Wait 48 hours before washing your hair

If you want to get the full effect of your perm, wait 48 hours before washing your hair. Not only does washing too soon remove the solution from your hair, but it can also flatten curls and leave strands feeling dry and brittle. It’s also important to remember not to touch or twist curls until they are completely dry.

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Use the Right Comb and Brush

Avoid plastic brushes and combs. They can be too harsh on permed hair, leaving it dry and brittle. You should use combs and brushes made from porcelain or wood. These materials gently smooth curves and waves into your hair without causing any damage. Also, make sure to keep your comb in a clean place after each use. This prevents cross-contamination of pathogens.

Choosing the Right Pillow

If you’ve just gotten your hair permed and you’re wondering what type to use, here are some tips on how to pick the best pillow for your hair. Soft pillows — made of materials like satin, cotton, or silk — let you gently mold your head as you sleep. This keeps your curls from getting stretched out and breaking.

Avoid Heat Tools.

Your perm is successful! Please don’t ruin it by using heat-styling tools. After getting a perm, your hair has just been chemically altered to create curls. You shouldn’t use styling tools for a couple of weeks; even natural materials can cause breakage. If you need to use heat, apply a leave-in conditioner first to protect your curls.

Use Products for Curly Hair

If you want to keep your perfectly-crafted digital perm in place, you’ve got to use products specifically designed for curly hair. A good shampoo and conditioner that targets curls will help keep the shape of your curls intact. By making sure your hair is well moisturized, you can make your curls stay in place without weighing them down or flattening them out.

Korean perm vs Digital perm

The difference ultimately lies in a bit of theory and terminology. With the Korean perm, the hair is saturated with a new hair solution, but it is not installed on a machine. There is no control throughout the perm process, so the curl pattern can vary dramatically from curl to curl. The perm solution does not react chemically with the hair permanently as a digital perm does.

On the other hand, digital perms are installed on machines where high heat and consistent pressure are applied to facilitate chemical changes. The curls may not be uniform like that of the Korean perm, but they will stay longer—up to six weeks. Also, various levels of digital perms with varying curl patterns can produce different looks. All in all, both work similarly, with somewhat different end results.

Read More:

13 Best Sulfate Free Shampoo For Permed Hair 2023

10 Different Types Of Body Wave Perm Explained | Ideas For Your Next Look

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