Snob Essentials

Stove Irons: Steel is the Word!

What does any normal girl do when she finds herself in K-town with an hour free before lunch at one of the best Korean restaurants in the world? Why, get a blow out at a Korean hair salon, of course! Well, at least that’s what I did.  Everything started out quite predictably. But after my shampoo, they pulled out this scary looking contraption which almost made me run right out of there with sopping-wet hair. Before allowing them to put the ominous metal object anywhere near my head, I got the full scoop. The owner explained that their solid-steel curling iron heats hair without damaging it and is far superior to the traditional ceramic iron. She then promptly produced a ceramic model, saying, “See this?  Ceramic, weak.  No good for hair and curl no last!  THIS is like perm, last 4-5 days if you no wash!”  She went on to explain that 50 years ago in Korea, women used barrel-shaped heated steel to curl their hair.  According to her, the modern made-in-the-USA version is similar to the old school Korean versions. The irons are heated in the vestibule and stay hot for almost 20 minutes – and they are not connected to a power source. There are two sizes to allow for customized curls.  Oil was applied to my hair prior to curling and the result was bouncy and soft wavy curls.

I’m sure glad I didn’t go scamper off. My hair looked AMAZING! I had curls I’ve never been able to achieve with hot curlers, hot clips, curling irons, or anything else! Granted, it isn’t the fanciest place in LA, but the curls are worth it.  Eight hours later, not a single curl has loosened.  That was the best $25 I’ve ever spent!
Check out Hair World LA (213) 388-5878 for more on their methods of mane management.
Note: I posted this photo on twitter yesterday and many of my twitter friends said this is the type of iron used in 90% of African American hair salons.  I’m Chinese so I have no idea what the history of steel curling iron is but found this so interesting!


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  1. So glad you added the Note to your post. The Irons are called Marcels and have been around and used WAY over 50 years, most notably in the African American community. In untrained hands they will burn/scorch your hair right off your head, as you have to learn how to control the heat. However, in the skilled hand you can have the mosto me is t beautiful curl ever! The only downside to me is the smell they sometimes leave.