Perms Are Making a Comeback and Here's How to Do Them the 2016 Way

Curly texture = woke.

Hairstyle, Jewellery, Jacket, Fashion, Leather jacket, Body jewelry, Necklace, Blond, Jheri curl, Earrings,
Hairstyle, Jewellery, Jacket, Fashion, Leather jacket, Body jewelry, Necklace, Blond, Jheri curl, Earrings,
(Image credit: HBO)

I've said it before and I'll say it again: We're in the midst of a hair renaissance. I mean, as I type this, Dove is launching its new #LoveYourHair campaign, a mission devoted to broadening the definition of "beautiful hair" inspired by the unrealistic, one-note Google image search results for the term.

The thing is, this movement towards celebrating all hair types and textures isn't just inspiring us as women to appreciate what we were born with, but also, after decades of hair straightening treatments being the thing, is the catalyst for the return of the perm. That's right, THE perm, which much like Richard Simmons, has virtually been in hiding since the '80s.

"Perms are making a huge comeback!" explains Wesley O'Meara of Honey Artists. "I've been doing perms on the side like crazy—even the guys are calling me up for them! Natural, woke-up-like-this hair has always been the ultimate achievement and thanks to a better understanding of waves and trends, the stigma had been lifted."

Hurrah! And I say this not as someone who has anything against pin-straight strands—I have naturally curly hair and am currently rocking a four-day-old blowout—but having perms back in the zeitgeist brings us one step closer to having society wholly-embrace curls. They're not unprofessional. They're beautiful. And also happen to be a perfect solution to the humidity creeping back into our lives.

"For summertime, women want less maintenance and more of a beachy look," explains Mia Loughnane, a colorist at Antonio Prieto Salon. "Who doesn't love soft, tousled, and natural looking waves? And in 2016 there so many more products to help condition the hair and beat the frizz."

The 2016 Guide to Getting a Perm

1. Size is everything—at lease when it comes to your perm rod.

"You don't have to think of the old frizzy '80s perms, there's also soft beachy waves," explains Loughnane. "Consult with your stylist on this as the size of the perm rod will ultimately be the end result of your curl. A larger rod will give you that soft tousled look."

2. It's more modern to set your hair imperfectly.

"I haphazardly place rods instead of the textbook precise even directional way that was used in the 80s," explains O'Meara. "I have very curly hair myself, so I understand that natural curls and waves are never uniform." Editors' Note: Amen to that.

3. Thio-free treatments are 🔑.

"There have been strides in types of 'thio-free' solutions, which offer less damage and odor, but they won't last as long as traditional perming," says Loughnane.

4. Have picture references!

It's the best way to ensure you're getting exactly the kind of waves or curls you want. "Multiple variations really help so the two of you can work together on finding the look that best suits you," advises O'Meara. 

Some inspo suggestions: Rihanna, Juno Temple in Vinyl, Iman Hammam, Alanna Arrington, Frederikke Sofie, and basically every other girl on our curly-girls-of-Instagram list.

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Lauren Valenti
Beauty Editor

Lauren is the former beauty editor at Marie Claire. She love to while away the hours at coffee shops, hunt for vintage clothes, and bask in the rough-and-tumble beauty of NYC. She firmly believes that solitude can be a luxury if you’ve got the right soundtrack—that being the Rolling Stones, of course.