Get the perms that make you look sexier, not older.
When I was younger, a decision to perm my hair was often made quickly and on a whim, usually after I’d seen a gorgeous picture inspiration in a magazine, or after having the same hairdo for a time and being bored of it.
There were, of course, hits and misses. As I liked to salon-hop, I didn’t always get the same good results. Some perms have sent me to straighten them the very next day, damaged hair be damned. But lucky me, as my hair would always bounce right back.
Now that I’m older, I’m less inclined to get a perm on impulse for a few reasons. I don’t like dealing with a complicated hair styling routine every day. I don’t want to be saddled with bottles, tubes and tubs of styling products if I don’t like my perm and decide to change the look. I also fear the possible ‘auntifying’ effects of a perm. So much so that when I wanted to introduce some volume into my normally flat, bone-straight hair recently, I opted for a very mild C-curl Korean perm, a semi cop-out, and this after thinking on it for months.
The C-curl perm did its job nevertheless. It was not a cop-out at all as it turns out. And it didn’t damage my hair nor add years to my face. It’s surprisingly lasting too. I’ve had it for 10 months now, and the curls are still holding pretty well.
Which is my point about perms these days. They’re kinder and gentler on the hair, not necessarily ageing, and they last. So while I’m still taking my time to think through a slightly more extreme perm this time around, I know there are specific options out there for long to medium length, and even fairly short hair that are modern-looking, kind on the locks, lasting (therefore pocket-friendly), and can give your current hairdo more volume and texture, as well as a sexier, more sophisticated edge.
The Curly Shag
This sexy, disheveled, out-of-bed look makes a strong comeback this year. We like Carly Simon, Joan Jett, Stevie Nicks, Jane Fonda, even David Cassidy and Mick Jagger for it in the ’70s and ’80s, but the 2018 version is much more versatile, and Alanna Arrington and Alexa Chung wear them best.
The ’do that’s layered for volume at the crown and feathered as it tapers on the neck and shoulders is worn with longish bangs that are side-swept or that frame the eyes. It’s easy to style even for hair novices.
The ringlets that put the curls in the curly shag can be large to medium to loose in tension, and the layers make it purposefully messy in a rock and roll way. The best part is that they can be worn longish way over the shoulders, medium and just skimming the shoulders, or neckline short.
The shag-o-meter of this elfin look goes up and down depending on the type of curls you choose – waves, ringlets, or body texture.
Worn long or short, curly or just wavy and textured, it takes years off instantly, and is a definite standout in amid a sea of sweet and sleek ’dos.
Mermaid Beach Waves
You can’t go wrong with this low-commitment perm that makes your hair look like you’d spent the day at the beach, except that because there’s no sand or salt in your hair, it’s soft to touch and the waves are permanent.
It’s great for lazy people who like a hairstyle they can wash and wear immediately. Considered the most ‘modern’ of all perm looks, mermaid beach waves look natural too, like sexily teased hair, only with more defined waves.
It’s perfect for short and longish bobs, with or without bangs. On shoulder-blade-length and waist-length hair, it’s quintessentially feminine and sexy.
We like it on Blake Lively, Gigi Hadid, Lucy Liu, Park So Ra (Stylenanda) and Taeyeon (Girl’s Generation).
Barbie Big Curls
It’s the most stylized perm among the three, and also the most out and out va-va-voom glamorous. What do you expect from a perm named after the world’s most famous doll? But before you shy away, consider the look and its benefits.
This sort of perm is most flattering on long to medium-length hair that’s one-length, un-layered and without bangs. On long, centre-parted hair, it affords the wearer a wide-eyed innocence.
The same perm on long to medium-length hair with a side-part looks sophisticated with a capital ‘S’. Some styling with curl cream and skillful finger-drying is required to bring out the best in these curls.
Caring for your perm
As much as many modern perms are wash and wear and require little styling, there are some things you should observe to preserve your curls and waves and protect your hair after a perm.
Don’t wash your hair for a day or two. Use a dry shampoo to keep your scalp and hairline oil-free. That also means no swimming or getting caught in the rain.
If you want your curls to keep their shape, refrain from pinning, tying or restraining your hair with a hairband for at least two to three days. Freshly-permed hair needs time to settle into its new shape.
Refrain from colour processing your hair just after you perm it. Use a shampoo and conditioner meant for permed hair. These are usually gentler and more moisturizing. Use a wide-tooth comb to disentangle your hair after you’ve applied conditioner and before you rinse it off, and make sure you rinse conditioner off thoroughly. Residual conditioner can weigh down your curls and even attract dirt. And once you’ve rinsed out your hair of conditioner, don’t comb it or brush it.
Finger scrunch your curls to style them, but make sure you use the coolest setting on your hair dryer. Light shaping mousse or a curl cream are good styling products to use.
Maintain your curls by trimming your hair regularly and touching up your perm every couple of months. You have been warned – permed hair is high maintenance!
Hot and cold perms are processes. Cold perms give hair its curliness when hair is wet, while hot perms give hair its curliness when it is dry. Hot permed hair is usually easier to style and lower maintenance. Ceramic, digital and wave perms are all hot perm techniques, while the traditional or classic ‘aunty’ perm is a technique used in a cold perm process.
Clio Lim, L’Oreal Professionnel Educator explains that if you have hair that’s naturally flat but you don’t want curls, you could do a root or volume perm, which is a hot perm process that gives the roots and the hair at the crown a lift, to add more volume and afford hair a more flattering silhouette.
Alternatively, fine hair can take both hot and cold perms well. It all depends on how long you want the curls to last. For a quick change, natural looking waves from a cold perm is apt. But if you want longer-lasting curls with more definition, a hot perm is recommended.
If you have thick, wiry, kinky hair but love curls, try a hot perm that will heat seal your hair surface, making it look smoother, with or without too much curl.
Clio Lim’s Top Perm Places:
mi the salon, 2 Orchard Turn, #03-19, Singapore 238801, 6884 7757
Salon Vim, Wisma Atria #02-01B, 6734 6404; 235 Victoria Street, 6837 0073
Formula Cut, 14 Scotts Rd, Singapore 228213, 6732 5593
Salon #1, 513 Bishan Street 13, #01-518, 570513, 6258 3822
Images courtesy of L’Oreal Professionnel, artwork by Curatedition.