Tuesday, June 17, 2008


“What is that smell?”

This is often the reaction from clients when the sickeningly sweet smell of Perm solution is in the air. My reaction is always: “It's a hair salon. What the hell do you expect, to smell Roses?” :)

Frankly perms have always gotten a bad wrap (get it), and do you know who's to blame? Hair stylists and clients. From the get-go perms always smelt bad and always will. So now that we are over that hurdle let’s talk about its purpose: it is designed to create curls, body, and texture. What happens after that is really up to the people behind the box. Education on perms has come a long way; we now know that not everyone wants to look like Shirley Temple on acid, with curls that are just not appropriate for public viewing. It was also a big relief once the 80's passed and the need to have tight curls and big hair faded with Dynasty shoulder pads… well, I actually miss the shoulder pads.

It may surprise you but perms are still being done in salons today; even I still do perms. The quality of perms—like everything else—has improved: they are far more gentle on the hair. Even color-treated hair can be permed without clients wondering if they are going to hear the sound of more than a dozen perm rods hitting the sink with the the hair still in them (believe me… it has happened). No, now the conditioning perms that are on the market are really turning heads, so everyone’s perming again.

In addition, what has changed is the fact that we now know we can’t depend on a head of tight curls to save the day. We tried. The results were disastrous! Ok, I will stop recounting how bad it was, as I’m sure you get the picture. (LOL!) Now, when we perm hair, we do expect it to be wash-and-wear. We also know that to have versatility, some work is needed. After all, why should we go through all this trouble for you to walk around with hair that, well, is just curly. Have fun with it! As an example, I have some clients that perm once a year, mainly in the summer. It’s the perfect solution for fine flyaway hair during the heat.

[To be continued in PART 2…]

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