Seoul’s Hidden Colorist

Any woman who has browsed Korean hashtags related to hair on Instagram has most likely come across Arkadiy Kim’s work.  However, he’s better known by his Instagram handle, @macheskyhair.  A native Uzbeki and ethnic Korean, Arkadiy has been supplying the Russian-speaking community of Seoul with gorgeous, Guy Tang-quality color for the last year.  However, he has been cutting hair for over seven years and has trained in both Uzbekistan and Korea.  He dislikes cutting hair dry, as is popular in Korea, so he blends the western-style techniques he learned in Uzbekistan with his training here.  Arkadiy also claims he doesn’t have a favorite salon treatment between cuts, coloring, and processing, but that he is always down to try anything new with a client and loves to experiment.

When I came across his Instagram last year in September, I knew he was the right hair artist for what I wanted to achieve.  It had been over 7 years since I last used any kind of coloring or tinting products, but the gorgeous photos on Arkadiy’s Instagram were too tempting.  It took my Russian-speaking friend contacting him via Instagram over several weeks to finally confirm an appointment (delayed somewhat by his recent marriage and following honeymoon), but at the end of April, I’d finally secured a slot.  My friend was unable to come with me, so I began communicating with him in English via text–I originally thought he only spoke Russian, but we didn’t have any problems communicating.  He is (of course) fluent in Korean as well.

Arkadiy is tall–nearly eye-to-eye with me at 6ft–and quiet.  On the day of my appointment, I shyly walked into his basement studio where he was wrapping up with another client.  He gave me a quick hello but otherwise seemed preoccupied, so I took a seat and waited.  I somewhat nervously started to show photos and explain what I wanted, throwing around the terms ‘nude’ and ‘peachy’ while showing a range of photos.  As he began to work on my hair, I started to panic with how light it was looking–but it turns out that the Olaplex formula dries white in the bleaching process!  I reminded myself of all the gorgeous pictures I’d seen on his Instagram and decided to trust in Arkadiy’s skills.

The First Coloring

As Arkadiy worked on my hair and we began to chat.  The language barrier between us wasn’t a big deal.  In the end, he gave me a nude/peach colored balayage as I’d requested, but I wasn’t 100% satisfied with the final color.  However, this was completely due to my disorganization and inability to communicate what I wanted.  Lesson learned, here are some pro tips for when working with a stylist that doesn’t natively speak your language:

  • Bring only  1~2 reference photos
  • Keep your key words simple
  • Prepare how you’re going to explain what you want in advance OR
  • Have a friend who speaks your stylist’s native language write down a translation of things you both want and want to avoid.

Until you become better acquainted, this helps avoid miscommunications!  I still trusted in Arkadiy as a colorist, so we decided to give it another go.  After seeing the results of my first session and watching my color fade out, I decided I wanted to tweak my balayage and now had a clearer idea of exactly what color I wanted.   My end results were absolutely stunning, so I’ll let them speak for themselves:

Second  Visit: Trying the rose gold again and nailing it!  Arkadiy used two slightly different roses from Igora ColorWorx and Fabuloso to get the color just right.  (Center: reference image for color.)

WARNING: Pinks fade very quickly, especially soft/muted ones!  Arkadiy was actually really insistent on this and made sure I knew the rose gold I was asking for wouldn’t last very long, as he didn’t want me to be disappointed.  It doesn’t really matter what brand of dye you use or how expertly it’s applied.  Outside of hot pink, they’re sadly always the first to go.  My rose gold had faded back to blonde in about two weeks, and the magenta in my fourth coloring faded in about two and a half to three weeks.  Violet, however, has always hung around for quite a long time.  I currently still have traces of lavender in my hair, and it was last dyed 38 days ago!

To make your color last, I’d recommend the following:

  • Use an umbrella when outside.  Seriously.  The sun faded my pinks much more aggressively than washing my hair did!  Besides, this is Korea; using an umbrella in strong sunlight is the norm!
  • Avoid washing your hair.  This one is kind of a no-brainer, but sometimes even just rinsing your hair can lead to product run-off.  I always clip mine up in the evening when I shower and only get it wet if I’m actually washing.  Dry shampoo and messy buns are your friends.
  • Wash only the roots.  This only really works if you have balayage, but it makes a big difference!  You can wash away the oils and product build-up without affecting your lower ends by tying everything up in a bun before getting in the shower.  Tie your hair 3-4cm off your scalp for “wiggle room”.  Lather your scalp and roots with shampoo and rinse as best as you can to minimize contact with your color.  I let my hair down only at the very end of my shower to get the last of the shampoo out and decrease the overall time my ends spend under running water.
  • Use color-protecting shampoo and products.  I personally have been using L’Oreal Professional Vitamino Color shampoo and conditioner, which I buy from the other stylist who cuts my hair.  I would put less faith in products over the above mentioned steps, but they won’t hurt!
Experimenting With Color

Speaking of violet, the next time I went in I decided to let Arkadiy play a bit more.  I told him he could use any colors and do whatever he wanted as long as it didn’t involve more bleaching and was somewhere in the pink/purple/blue tones.  He ended up giving me a beautiful blend of rose, denim blue, and lavender:

Third Visit: I let Arkadiy experiment this time, and he used OlaplexN2 and Pravana color to achieve this triple-colored look.

This color lasted a bit longer because of the blues and violets.  When I came back three weeks later, I had sort of a silvery-pastel blend of blonde (from the rose), pale violet (from the blue), and rose (from the violet).  My employer hadn’t said anything to me about my hair so far, so I decided to be a bit more bold.  This time I brought in a photo of a more vibrant violet to magenta rose ombré:

Third Visit: My tri-colored hair had faded into a pretty silvery-pastel mix, but Arkadiy had no problem covering it and achieving the hair in my reference photo (pictured center)!

I also had a chance to meet Dmitry, Arkadiy’s new assistant.  He speaks English quite well, and although he is ethnically Korean, he is actually a native Russian speaker, too!  He always greets clients with a warm smile, and is very easy to talk to.  The two of them make a great team, as they compliment and round out one another’s personalities quite well.

Professionalism

On a final note, I want to speak to Arkadiy’s professionalism.  Arkadiy would one day love to develop his own brand and open a chain of salons.  His passion for hair and the way he has treated me as a client is what prompted me to write this article!  While I’ve had two instances where the color hasn’t quite been what I wanted, and both times he has bent over backwards to make sure I’m happy–if you ever visit him and aren’t pleased with your results, speak up!  My first time, with the peach/nude color, I didn’t say anything until I was back in the salon chair for the second time.  However, when I mentioned that I’d felt it was too orange and wasn’t quite happy, he made absolutely sure that I left the salon with the color I wanted.  I also appreciated how honest he was with me about the rose gold color and how it wouldn’t last long–he wants to give his clients exactly what they’re asking for, and will absolutely tell you if he feels he can’t achieve a certain look.  I’ve learned that this kind of honesty isn’t always easy to find in Korea, where many stylists value saving face over admitting they can’t fulfill a client’s request!

The second time was during my third coloring, when I had the violet-magenta ombré, and while still learning how to work with stronger colors Dmitry accidentally washed over the magenta with the stronger violet.  The results were still quite pretty and I wasn’t upset, but Arkadiy still insisted I come back the next weekend so he could fix it and give me the color I had originally asked for at no extra cost.  A stylist can’t read your mind, so always be sure to reach out to them first if you’re unhappy with service before hopping on social media.  Anyone worth their scissors and dye will jump to rectify the situation!  And, more importantly, if you’re happy with their services, spread the word!

Contact Information & Pricing

Pricing varies depending on the current condition, length, and type of hair you have.  Haircuts are free with any coloring service if you ask!  I have long, fine hair in good condition.  My prices may vary from yours, but so far I have paid:

  • 130,000 for balayage bleaching (does not include color!)
  • 70,000 for single color (ex: my rose gold)
  • 80,000 for two colors (ex: my violet and magenta-rose
  • 90,000 for three colors (ex: Arkadiy experimenting with rose, violet, and blue)

There is NO additional charge for the use of Olaplex.  However, please do note that when I have had both balayage and single-color done, I have paid a total of 200,000: 130,000 for the bleaching + 70,000 for the color.  In my later visits, I didn’t bleach further so I’ve always just paid the cost of the color alone.  If your hair is damaged and needs a deep-conditioning treatment, or if you need your roots processed on top of bleaching and toning if you’re blonde, there may additional charges.  Arkadiy is very up front about all of this and happy to explain, so don’t hesitate to ask him for a price breakdown before he starts his services!

You can contact Arkadiy in Russian, Korean, or English at any of the following:

His salon is a 3min walk from Exit 5 of Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station (동대문역사문화공원), which is connected to Line 2, Line 4, and Line 5.  The salon is in the basement of this building, and there are two entrances.  One is the caged door immediately to the left of the CU (see slideshow) and the other is on the side of the building.  Go down either staircase and look for suite 201.  You should see a frosted glass door with ‘Royal’ in English and ‘hair salon’ in Russian on the door!  You can always call Arkadiy if you get lost, but hopefully you won’t if you use the directions slideshow below!

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The salon is located in Keumho Twin Officetel (금호트윈오피스텔), B1, #201.  You can use either the new or the old style of writing Korean addresses to find it:
Old Style: 서울특별시 중구 광희동1가 89-1  /  Seoul, Jung-gu, Gwanghoe-dong 1-ga, 89-1
New Style: 서울특별시 중구 마른내로 155  /  Seoul, Jung-gu, Mareunnae-ro 155

This is NOT a sponsored post!  
The purpose of this post is purely to share my own personal experience and provide relevant links to others interested in similar services.