We love it when trends from the past come back in fashion. Admittedly, some things, like fluorescent leg warmers, handlebar moustaches, socks with sandals and male rompers, never deserved to resurface for a second time, but there are plenty of past reincarnations to celebrate. Double denim, leopard print, flares, dungarees, thick rimmed glasses… yes please. And perms? Things just got exciting!
It’s almost too good to be true: perms are back. The throwback hairstyle first got popular in the 80s, and at the time, it seemed like every high schooler had one. Apparently, the reason for the sudden popularity was that girls were finally starting to grow their hair long, after it had been a trend to keep hair short for such a substantial period of time.
At the height of its fame, the perm was seen on many famous celebrities, including American actress Sarah Jessica Parker, and, of course, Sandy after her glow-up in the last few acts of Grease. Sadly, by the 90s, the perm has already run its course, and was replaced by crimped waves, the high ponytail, feathering, and questionable half-hair braids.
While it seemed like perms might be a, well, permanent thing of the past, now, nearly thirty years after their big debut into the fashion spectrum, they appear to be coming back. Hair salons are offering them to customers once more, catwalk models have donned the look on the runways, and even a few celebrities (Spider Man’s Emma Stone included) have been seen showing the look off.
So, for those of you who aren’t old enough to be sure of this, what exactly are perms? Put simply, they are essentially a permanent way of keeping your hair wavy or curly- ideal if you’re sick of brandishing the curling iron every morning, or worse, wearing rollers to bed, just to achieve your desired look.
You can expect a perm to last for a few months, after which it’ll take another trip to the hairdressers to get a touch-up. Back in the day, perms broke down the hair using chemicals that reform it into a different shape. Definitely not the healthiest process for the hair, but as with hair dye, sometimes things have to be done in the name of looking good.
These days, something called sodium thioglycolate is used instead of the nastier chemicals, but other than that, the process hasn’t really changed. Unfortunately, the price has changed with the times- you can expect to pay around £70-150 for a decent perm job lasting several months. But you can expect a more bespoke treatment than you could have got back then, which should tailor the perm to your hair type as much as possible.
Wondering what the rules are once you’ve had your hair permed? Looking after a perm takes some work, but shouldn’t be too different from your usual hair care routine. You should aim to avoid washing your hair for at least two days after the perm, and don’t comb your hair for the first 24 hours. After that, it’s just a case of treating hair like it’s naturally curly, moisturising it to prevent dryness, and using oils as leave-in conditioners to keep it healthy.
If you’re thinking about dying permed hair, it’s best to consult your hairdresser first, just to check that it’s okay to do so. You can use heat styling tools on permed hair, so it shouldn’t limit you in any way. You can’t wash your curls out, either, so don’t be afraid to take regular showers- in fact, we insist!
The future of the perm, and whether the style really will take off as the next big trend of 2019, is uncertain as of yet. But what’s really important to remember, if you’re considering a perm, is that it is incredibly damaging to your hair. Think about it- the process breaks down every single bond in your hair, then reforms it into something unnatural. Some hairdressers will simply refuse to do perms because of the damage they would be doing to their clients’ hair (and there really is no avoiding this damage, no matter what you might have heard). You’re entitled to treat your hair however you want- just as long as you know what you’d be putting it through with a perm!