The word ‘perm’ may conjure up big hair with tight ringlets worn by celebrities and every day women of the 80s (one of your older female relatives probably rocked one for sure). Sure, the bushy perms of the 80s might be out of vogue, but there are plenty of modern hair perms that are actually gorgeous. The perms of today use modern techniques to create everything from spirals to beach waves, bringing perms into the modern hair world. To perm or not to perm? There’s a lot to consider before committing to a new look, but here’s the most important thing to know:
I. What Is A Perm?
Believe it or not, perms have been around for over 100 years. Whether old school or the new school, a perm or permanent hairstyle work by using chemicals to change hair texture, either creating waves or curls. This means perms can take hair from straight to curly or curly to straight. However, there are many different types of perms available today, and not all of them are related to hair. An eyelash perm, for example, as the name implies, adds a curl or lift to your eyelashes for a few months.
II. How Many Types of Perm Are Available Today?
These days, you can perm your hair into effortless beach waves or even make it look like you just got a salon blow-out all the time. The new formulas and techniques are giving perms a revival. Other available hair perms that have become popular over the years include a digital perm and a Japanese perm.
Digital perms use a chemical process and heat styling to change the structure of your hair to add waves or curls, while Japanese or flat perms uses a special solution to straighten, smoothen and soften hair.
There are even root or spot perms – as the name suggests the perm is concentrated at the roots or focused on an area of the hair that needs more oomph, especially great for women with curly or wavy hair that want to add definition to the ends or mid-shaft of the hair.
With so many options available, we’ll go over everything you need to know about perms as well as the differences between traditional perms and modern perms.
III. Traditional Perms vs. Modern Perms
Traditionally, stylists or at-home DIYers wrapped the hair around the same slim, cylinder shape all over the head, meaning perms always transformed the hair from straight (or wavy) to tightly curled. Following the wrapping of the rods, a perm lotion was applied all over the rods to allow the curl to set. After letting the lotion sit for a while, it would be rinsed and blow-dried before adding a neutralizing product.
Today’s technique of perms has moved away from the traditional one-size plastic rod, where other materials can now be used and varying rod sizes are also available. The technique of wrapping hair around the rod, rollers, or even fabric has also changed with the times allowing stylists to create S-waves and looser, beach waves.
This is the most significant distinction between traditional and modern perms. Curls or waves can be created based on your hair type and style preference, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. Many women get perms to enhance their natural texture, giving their waves or curls more structure and life.
IV. How Is A Perm Done?
Depending on your hair type, your stylist may start with softening and smoothing your natural hair texture, this is usually done for kinky, coily or very curly hair. The hair is then wound into the perm rods, flexi rods, rollers, or fabric pieces. This may be the most essential step as the way your hair is wrapped around the perm tool will determine the shape of your curls.
Perm lotion is then applied which helps to deposit hydrogen to the hair’s structure, putting the hair in a state to change shape according to the shape of the rod and how the hair is wound in the rod. Once the lotion and rods are removed, a neutralizing product is applied to the hair. The neutralizer helps to remove the hydrogen created from the previous step and adds oxygen. This process helps to fix the hair into its new shape.
Finally blow dry, style, and embrace your new perm!
V. How Long Does A Perm Last?
How long a perm lasts varies depending on how fast your hair grows, your hair type, and your hair length. Perms in short hair can last 3 to 4 months, whereas perms in long hair can last 6 to 8 months. Despite the name having perm or “permanent” the styling treatment will not last longer than 8 months in most cases in which you can get back to your natural texture.
If you have shorter or mid-length hair and are looking for ways to add wavy or curly length and volume, clip-in hair extensions are a great alternative between your perm appointments. Hair extensions can be easily styled and curled before applying and the waves or curls last for several days when the extensions are stored properly. If you have straight hair and want to go for a curly look, our clip-in curly ponytail extensions are a great way to switch up your look before you are ready to make a full commitment.
VI. Do Modern Perms Cause Hair Damage?
There’s a preconception that perms will leave you with over-processed, damage-ridden tresses, but if it’s done correctly, a perm should leave you unscathed. Doing your own perm could definitely cause damage but if you’re getting it done professionally, there should be no damage.
Perms are possible for everyone and every hair type but that’s not to say that all perms are the same. Depending on the hair type, perms may not hold as well in color-treated or other chemically processed hair because of the products that have to be used and you don’t want to dry out or damage the hair with too many chemical processes. Instead, leave time between chemical-heavy appointments to allow the natural hair to regain its moisture and strength.