The Perm: A Short Introduction

Posted by in Hair

Ah, the perm! That classic staple that gives anyone with any memory of the 80s a small thrill of horror. At least, that is how many people may approach the hair style. On the other hand, it's worth noting that some form of perming has existed for thousands of years. For example, ancient egyptians would curl their hair around clean sticks and then cover their locks in red clay, before allowing their hair to bake in the sun, in order to achieve much-desired curls.

Perhaps you've thought about having a perm? Or wondered what might be the effects and what kind of perm would work to best effect? Well, then you've come to the right place!

1) Why get a perm?

It's a question that many might ask. What is the point of a perm? Well, most people want what they can't have and the draw of waking up every day with perfectly bouncy curls rather than having to wake up earlier to give them a whack with a curling iron is one that is hard to pass on.

2) Are there drawbacks?

Of course. Getting a perm involves applying a great deal of foul-smelling chemicals to the hair in order to make them take to the desired shape. In this respects, it's much like bleaching the hair, and can leave hair looking dry or damaged if not done correctly by a professional who has some experience of the perming process. However, on balance, these drawbacks need not be serious, certainly less serious than the effects of bleaching, and many stand by their perms in spite of them.

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3) What kind of perms exist?

A great many types of perm exist, and when working out whether a perm is for you, it's a good idea to do proper research. Broadly, however, these are the types to bear in mind.

a) Body Wave Perm - these perms are a good way of adding volume, if the desire for curls is intrinsically linked with the desire for big hair. This is often a good look for those with thinner, straighter hair, as the curls will be longer.

b) Spiral Perm - created using long perm rods, this perm style creates a tight curl, that cascades in ringlets. If you want an even spiral, you can also use a thicker or thinner perm rod if desired.

c) Pin Curl Perm - created with a mixture of pins and curlers, these create defined, round curls, though the size of the curl is entirely dependant on the roller used.

d) Spot Perm - also known as a plain curl perm, a spot perm curls specific sections of the hair. Usually, this means curling the ends only, perhaps to give some shape to an area that might otherwise be limp. You can also use a spot perm to create both larger waves and smaller, tighter curls, so you're only limited by your imagination.

e) Root Perm - This kind of perm is done to give a lift to the roots, the solution for those who want volume but don't really want any visibly defined curls. In this case, it's just a slight curl, lifting the hair up and giving it some life.

f) Multi-textured Perm - Using all manner of different sized curling rods, a multi-textured perm is the most natural looking perm and steers away from the curls looking too uniform. However, the multitextured perm is a perm best suited to long hair so may not be for everyone.

Others exist too, but these ones are especially worth bearing in mind.

4) What's the upkeep like?

Depends on the type of perm you get, but generally, you'll want to keep your perm well moisturised and oiled, without washing it too often. Dryness is something to look out for, as is the weather, much like real curls in this respects. You may also want to swap out your usual pillow case for a silk one or wrap your hair in a silk scarf before bed.