We're Calling It: Perms Are Back & More Wearable Than Ever

Photo: S. Granitz/WireImage/Getty Images
From Elton John-esque glitz and glamour to Off-White's Princess Di-inspired collection, it's safe to say the '80s are back in full force. On the beauty front, one trend from the decade that we thought would never see the light of day again has returned with cool girl credibility: the perm.
When actresses Jaime King and Emma Stone recently took to Instagram to try the once-questionable 'do, it confirmed what we had suspected over the past few seasons: that the '80s curls were back – but this time with a thoroughly contemporary and wearable refresh.
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According to supremo hair stylist Luke Hersheson, it's all thanks to past icons once again being referenced by fashion. "Women like Brooke Shields and Julia Roberts feel quite relevant right now – there's something quite soulful about those kind of curls, they have character in them," he tells Refinery29.
Fashion has certainly enjoyed the perm renaissance, as seen backstage at a plethora of SS18 shows. John Frieda gave Molly Goddard's girls graphic curls with a nostalgic black headband around the hairline, and models' natural curls, waves and texture were enhanced at shows like Versus Versace and Temperley London.
This time around, the '80s perm is less Curly Sue, Luke says. In fact, we've completely misunderstood it. "There is a big misconception," he explains. "A lot of the reason the bubble perm has bad connotations is to do with the haircut at the time, which kind of exaggerated the perm. Now, we're doing perms on longer, more simple hair, so the curl isn't as defined or extreme."
With perm pin-ups like models Alanna Arrington and Mica Argañaraz, plus photographer Petra Collins, the modern perm is a step up from the beachy waves we've seen so much over the past few years. It's time to park the salt spray and embrace a more hyped-up curl. So how can we achieve the updated look?
"The same technology is being used as the first time round, in that we have to change the bonds in the hair in order to change its natural shape," Claire Bonney, from Radio Salon London on behalf of Redken explains. "This time, though, there are more nourishing and strengthening ingredients used, so it cares for hair in the process. There are bigger rollers now, and the way you roll and place the roller allows for a softer look – more LA wave, less Shirley Temple!"
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While most hair types will take well to being permed, the more sensitive and weaker your hair, the less likely it is to keep the shape. "There are specialist perms for afro hair – in most salons it would be too damaging, though, so seek those out. Anything bleached or coloured is also a no-go as the hair will be ruined," Luke advises.

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Post-treatment, aftercare is essential. "Use shampoos and conditioners with moisture to keep the curl soft yet buoyant," Claire explains. "Pureology Hydrate is a great moisture range. Air drying naturally will keep the wave flatter, using the Redken No Blow-Dry Cream will help moisturise and control the curl. Using a diffuser will spread air through the hair and increase the volume, giving more body."
So with the process less damaging for your locks, and the looks less dramatic than those in the '80s, it sounds like it's definitely time to up your summer hair game with some mega curls.
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