The permanent wave or “perm” that was so big in the 1980s has a long history preceding its curly-perm popularity. Women and men have been thermally or chemically altering their hair for hundreds of years, using tongs heated in a flame or maybe a delightful mixture of cow’s urine and water.
While still a process “whereby the hair undergoes a physical change caused by wrapping the hair on perm rods, and then the hair undergoes a chemical change caused by the application of permanent waving solution and neutralizer” (Milady Textbook), many stylists haven’t done a perm wrap since beauty school. Still, stepping outside her comfort zone allowed Georgia Reed (@peachpaintshair), a stylist in Sterling, IL and National Malibu C Educator, to find the solution to her male client’s problem…the perm solution.
“My guest came in for his haircut, showing me a picture of a textured, quaffed, all-back style,” Reed explains. “We have cut his hair in the past to accommodate this look, but his straight hair and growth pattern that falls all forward, the look never lasted, even with product. He had recently had a friend curl his hair for a festival and he liked the look and wanted it to stay. I decided then he needed a perm. He agreed and said he trusted me and we scheduled.”
Reed applied Malibu C Pro Curl Partner to prepare the hair. “Because he didn't want a tight hold curl, but a loose wave, we dropped the rods early. What this means is that after the perm has processed its recommended time, we rinsed for 5 minutes, then took the rods out BEFORE neutralizing. This lets the curls fall and finish their final phase and loosen some.”
With the return of The Shag and The Mullet, is the perm also staging a comeback? Or, like these haircut shapes, did it ever really go away? “There is definitely a stigma on perming but I wanted to look at it from a different perspective,” Reed concludes. “My client had a problem, we wanted to address that and make his styling easier. Perming all his hair away from his face, in the direction we wanted the hair to lay, achieved this. People just think 80s when you say perm, but texture is back, and it is sexy!”
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