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Expats’ Favorite Hairstylist Michael Lee

Michael Lee’s hair is tousled and lightly moussed.

Appearance is an important part of Korea’s hypercompetitive society, explained Lee. As a hairstylist, he enjoys being able to help people navigate those difficult waters.

“Ever since I was young, I’ve loved making people’s hair beautiful. I’m so happy I get to live my dream.”

Lee has been a hairstylist in the Gwangju area for more than 20 years and has successfully tapped into the expat market. On busy days, up to 40 percent of Lee’s clientele are foreigners.

“I like working with international clients because I get to practice a variety of new techniques and learn new skills,” said Lee. “Foreigners have more of a variety of hair types than Koreans, but I’ve had so many years of experience styling foreigners, I know what to expect.”DSCF1268

Lee is a slight man, with hands almost as delicate as his voice. But when a client takes a seat in his salon chair, he is confident, focused, and precise.

“Unlike skin, hair is not alive, so you must be especially careful when caring for it, particularly after shampooing,” said Lee. “You’re washing out the products that keep your hair looking good. Make sure to immediately treat your hair with quality products after shampooing.”

Lee now works for Ra Beauty Core Beauty Salons, which officially opened in downtown Gwangju this June. The four-story high-end salon also includes a day spa and training facility for its stylists and technicians. This salon is one of four Ra Beauty Core Beauty Salons in South Jeolla, including a salon in the Sangmu district of Gwangju. Though the services at Ra Beauty Core are more expensive than the average salon, foreigners can enjoy discounts on certain services.  Basic shampoo and styling for women is around 30,000 won.

“My foreign clients usually want simple hairstyles,” said Lee. “But I always try to give my clients a unique, personal look. I don’t like boring styles. I like being creative.”

Lee keeps up with trends in hairstyles by talking to friends and fellow hairstylists who live abroad. He says that expat hair is usually frizzier and lighter than Korean hair, so it requires heavier hair products. Many of his female expat clients request highlights.

“I like using balayage because it is a more graduated highlight and looks very natural, but I also do ombre coloring,” said Lee. “Foreigners also ask for their hair to be straightened.”

Lee does not work on Wednesdays, but is available other days until 9 p.m. To schedule an appointment, you can reach him though Facebook at  Before arriving to your appointment, however, think about the look you want.

“Whenever you go to a stylist, it’s important to bring lots of pictures,” said Lee.


Address: 2-4Fl, Gwangsan-dong 76beonji, Dong-gu,

Gwangju (관주 동구 관산동 76번지 2-4층)

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