Hair Answers: soft perms


Posted in Answers, Celebrities on August 22nd, 2010 by Reagan

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Q by Ashley: You mentioned that perms are most always a no-no.  What about body waves?  I have small hair and something that will make it look bigger (I totes want GINORMOUS hair) is really tempting to do.  So I guess my question is do body waves even look good?  Will not doing as much heat styling kind of cancel out the damage from a body wave?

A by Reagan: Ashley, I know you want to look like the picture above, so march right on over to your local beauty parlor this very second! Hehehe. (When someone calls it a beauty parlor, the only thing that I can picture is a bunch of women with tight roller sets and perms. And FUMES from perms!)

In all seriousness, a lot of people have asked this question. Ashley asked it most recently, so I just copy/pasted her Q for the post. I’m afraid to say ladies, loose, wavy perms do not really exist. They don’t. If you insist on getting a perm (don’ say I didn’t warn you), the closest thing you could get to wave, is bigger rods with very small sections, or small rods with bigger sections of hair. The chances of it coming out the way you want it are very slim, and the chances of it coming out damaged are very high. Especially if you have color treated, or long hair.

Honestly, I rarely do perms. But the fundamental rules for perms haven’t really changed….the bigger the rod, the less likely the curl will take. But you are still putting a very powerful chemical on your hair, so whether or not the curl takes, that damage will be there. Another honest opinion, I like perms. I like perm-perms. Perms that look like this…

I can tell Halle’s style is done with a curling iron, but it is similar to how a normal perm with normal white or purple rods would look like. And I like it. I almost did it with my own hair, but seeing as how my hair is brittle, and I knew I’d grow it out again, I opted to keep my natural instead.

Back to your Q…a body wave will give you some damage (that you might actually need), and make your hair a little bigger. But it wont make it ginormous, and it wont make it wavy. I think you should get a small curling iron, wrap big sections around it, and shake it out furiously. That will give you ginormous hair.

Ashley (and others), I think you shouldn’t do it. But if your heart is saying perm it, follow your heart. (don’t come chase me down when you look like the first picture!)



14 Responses to “Hair Answers: soft perms”

  1. Becki D Says:

    Interesting!! I’ve always wondered about the body wave thing, too. Who uses it then, if it doesn’t really do much…I mean what’s the practical application for it? (just curious)

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  2. kati Says:

    i think it was about 1990, when i was in 7th grade and perms were really popular (that’s how i remember it anyway?) and i saw a pic that looked like the halle pic above and asked for my hair like that… and whatever the lady did it looked just like that. i loved it. so the next time, i went back and asked for the same thing… and got more like the top pic (funny, i think that’s a dude). i remember the minute she took the rods out and started brushing my hair right away, i thought “ohhh, noooooooooooo”. and i was right. i spent about two years dealing with the after-effects. take it from me, don’t do it! i like the small iron, shake furiously method. :)

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  3. Ashley Says:

    Thanks for answering my question! I already got my small curling iron out to try tomorrow. I think I have accepted my small hair (I have PCOS, hypothyroid, baby-fine hair, and recently had a baby. It’s a miracle I even have any left on my head!), but will always be open to trying things to make it big. Except for a perm, that is.

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  4. Marie Says:

    After year’s of begging people under 70 not to get a perm, I finally did it to myself about a year ago. As a stylist I was pretty ashamed of myself for giving in and doing something I KNEW wasn’t gonna end up good. I looked embarrassingly similar to the top picture and ended up doing a chemical relaxer to get it out, because at that point I was gonna do ANYTHING to get rid of that perm. My hair was FRIED, had to cut off several inches and is just now feeling semi-normal again! So, thank you for posting about this. If just 1 person avoids a perm because your post I’d consider that one life saved ;)

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  5. Genevieve Says:

    Thank you! THANK YOU! I’m a hairdresser as well and it drives me bonkers when my friends ask for perms because they “don’t want to curl their hair everyday”
    eesh.

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  6. blandine Says:

    haha, when I saw the first picture it immediatly reminded me of that time my sister went to the hairdresser, and the lady said (and she was serious!) “sure, like a poodle, sort of”.
    AND my sister did get the perm -can you believe it?

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  7. Jennlm Says:

    Thank you for always being so HONEST in your posts! I used to get a perm every 6 months or so when I was a teenager (it was the ’80s, so it was required). I would always ask for a soft, body wave perm and the hair dresser would say “sure, sure, we can do that.” I can’t tell you haw many times I ended up looking like the top picture. Now that I know they don’t exist, I can move on :)

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  8. Julia Says:

    I had a spiral perm years ago put into my stick-straight hair (well it was before the grays started growing in) and loved it… But I think because my hair is really thick & heavy (and it was super long back then, down to my waist) that it weighed the perm down enough so that it looked like pretty, wavy natural curls.

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  9. Julia Says:

    P.S. – it would take literally HOURS for me to use the “small iron & shake furiously” method, even though my stylist thins my hair big time every appointment. Any tips for those of us with thick, straight, “curls-fall-out-as-fast-as-you-put-’em-in” hair?

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  10. Michelle Says:

    SORRY, I DID IT. I have dead straight asian hair, and I like to shower and go. I had the perm done by the stylist who’d done my hair with curling irons twice for me before, so she knew the look I was going for. The first time went awesome. I had gentle waves for 3 months. The second time I wound up with some burnt ends, so I got a trim a month later. Either way, even when it fell out I had a good bit more volume and some motion at the ends. I might skip a cycle or two to keep my hair from getting too fried, but would go for it again.

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  12. Maggie the Cat Says:

    I am getting one tomorrow. I don’t understand all the hate for perms. I got them growing up and my hair wasn’t fried, and after having stick straight hair for years I’m going back for more. Of course, this time I’ll be getting larger curls… no 80s kink for me, lol. I think the most important thing for people to remember is that a perm is not an magic solution to not fixing your hair. It aids in fixing your hair. I will rarely just leave it plain, always takes a few curls w/the iron here and there to get the waves just right, but when you have hair that WILL NOT hold curl otherwise, a perm is great! I could never ever do the “curl all over and shake it out” thing mentioned above… it would be a giant waste of time and be nearly stick straight again in 5 minutes. A perm fixes that. Minimal curling w/rollers or an iron w/a perm and it looks awesome AND stays that way all day long.

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  13. Granny Net Says:

    I try being without a perm then always go back and have another. (about every 4 months) If a GOOD soft perm is used it will NOT fry your hair. Hairdresser should know best for your hair. She always trims AFTER the perm. sometimes I don’t like it right at first but have it cut every 3 weeks and love it. I am trying straight again (hair is very straight and flat)I love it right after I have it done, then when I shampoo and try to fix it it is flat before lunch. Will more than likely have another perm in August.

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  14. Brooke Says:

    I too have straight as a board, limp, stringy flat hair. I have used curling irons, hot rollers, velcro rollers and sponge rollers and nothing will keep my hair in any sort of style except FLAT. I had a wedding 3 years ago and it started going bad before my big day all because I couldn’t get the beautiful ringlets to stay in my hair! I had to settle for a french braid and the 2 tons of hair products left from the stylist curling my hair. I was so disappointed.

    I have had perms when I was a teen and they all seemed to turn out to be the same no matter what size rod you use. I don’t want frizz or the tight spring-like curls. I don’t want the multiple little, wet-look waves. Nice soft big curls are what I am looking for, or even the beach curls would be nice.

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