The 9 Kinds Of Perm You Need To Know About

Popular Styles

The Modern Perm: 9 Perm Hairstyles That Will Make You Go Crazy For Curls

28 August 2017
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Emily Arata

Senior Editor, Hair.com

As an employee of L’Oréal, Emily works with celebrity stylists to make finding the right cut, color, or style easier than ever before. She's previously written for Allure, Elite Daily, and First We Feast.

The perm is back, baby. Our mothers loved to tell us that every fashion trend would come into style again eventually, but this is one we never saw coming.

Permanent waves may seem like a relic of the ‘80s and ‘90s, but we’re beginning to see them on models and regular people once more. The perm process, which involves the application of chemical solutions to hair in curling rods, sets your hair in a wave formation that lasts for months at a time.

In the early 2000s, once-popular perms got quite the bad rap as customers shifted their focus to healthy, soft hair. Today, however, many new-wave (forgive the pun) perms use less harmful chemicals.

If you can’t help but wish for the volume, texture, and effortless bedhead so many models are showing off these days, a perm might just be the answer to your problems. It will combat lifeless strands while adding much-needed body.

Before booking an appointment, take a glance at our guide to the perms you may want to try.

Spiral Perm

Naturally curly hair is stunning, but waking up every day and painstakingly scrunching each strand is not. Or, perhaps you’re a lady with some wave to your hair who’d like to take her curls to the next level.

Whatever the case, we’re fairly obsessed with the spiral perm, in which each strand of hair is set in a vertical ringlet. The result is a full head of natural-looking curlicues, the jaw-dropping kind that floats effortlessly.

Beach Wave Perm

If you, like us, have spent the last three years in front of your bathroom mirror in an attempt to will your hair into having an effortless wave, turn to the perm. Instead of 40 minutes with a curling wand and two bottles of sea salt spray a month, you’ll be able to relax and let nature (uh, chemicals) take its course.

We love the look of a beach wave perm on long, thick hair. Since heavy lengths can make hair flat at the root and lack body, the perm is a smart choice. Instead of sitting under a hot dryer all summer, trying to achieve the same look with a blowout, you’ll be one-and-done.

Spot Perm

Committing to a perm doesn’t mean dropping everything for a totally new texture. We love the idea of a spot perm, which specifically addresses problem areas within the hair. If you’re totally devoted to retro bangs but can’t get them to curl correctly, or are tired of teasing up the crown of your hair, curlers applied just in one spot will take care of the issue.

On the bright side, you’ll also save money. Why risk the damage of a full perm, when you only want one spot done?

Body Wave Perm

So, you fell hard for the long bob trend. It was only after chopping all your hair off that you realized all the celebrities who looked fabulous in their lobs have a team of stylists working on it every day. Such is the tragedy of living life as a non-famous person.

However, there’s a solution to your short-hair woes: the body wave. It’s not just for grandmas anymore. The added texture and movement will make your lob feel alive again, without applying a dozen products every day. Body waves make hair feel youthful and summery, like you’ve just finished up a fabulous vacation on the Riviera.

Pigtail Perm

Don’t let the name throw you—there were no pigtails harmed during the making of this style. If you’re in the habit of leaving your hair in boxer braids for days at a time, then enjoying the wave when they’re undone, this style may be for you.

The pigtail perm is so named because the hair is wound in such a way that the resulting permanent wave mimics those created by braids. (Think of this as less of a corkscrew look, more of a deep wave.)

Root Perm

There are some heads of hair that absolutely will not hold volume, no matter what techniques, products, or stratagems you try. For limp noodle hair that causes endless dismay, turn to the specially-designed root perm.

As the name suggests, the technique focuses the curl directly where the strand meets the scalp. The result is a curly hairstyle that boosts volume without the aid of extra product. What are you waiting for?

Digital Perm

At the point, you’ve probably grown to expect that the latest and greatest in beauty treatments will come out of Asia. What you don’t know is that new hair techniques will, too. Meet the digital perm, sometimes also called a ceramic perm. Whereas a traditional perm sets hair that’s been wound around rollers, this process involves rods that emit high levels of heat.

The takeaway: This process, specifically designed with difficult-to-curl Asian hair in mine, leaves a gentle wave behind. It’s closer to a three-month-long blowout than any perm we’ve ever seen. If you live in a major city, you should be able to find a salon that specializes in digital perms.

Helicopter-Wrap Perm

The scariest part about perms isn’t the damage a bad one can do to your hair. Frankly, it’s the idea that you’ll wake up with a cloud of frizz around your face that can’t be tamed. Luckily, today’s permanent wave is a smarter, less overwhelming concept.

If you’re looking to focus the bulk of your wave toward the bottom of your hair, the way a blowout or curling wand might, then the helicopter wrap is probably a good fit for you. Although the setting process admittedly looks a little like you’re being abducted by aliens (hair-first), the resulting wave is loose on the top, voluminous on the bottom—no ‘80s flashbacks here.

Multi-textured Perm

It may not sound sexy, but the multi-textured perm is probably the most natural-looking way to achieve wave and body. The technique involves the application of curling rods in several different sizes, distributed across the scalp.

Instead of one, uniformly-sized type of curl, you’ll end up with a head of different sizes and shapes. In many cases, the treatment will even create the illusion of layering throughout your hair. Although it may sound counterintuitive, naturally curly hair often contains uniquely-sized ringlets. A multi-textured perm is the closest you’ll get to bouncy, I-woke-up-like-this waves.

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