Post by Kenzi

What I’m about to say may come as a shock: perms are back. Yes, you read that right. Perms. As in permanent curls, like grandma had, with that foul smell that permeates (pun intended?) every room the perm-ee enters. You’re probably imagining the larger than life, near-afro-status perms of the ’80s. Maybe you even had one yourself, or you’ve seen photos of your mom (like mine) trying and failing to rock the style before you were even born. After the perm’s heyday came to its long awaited demise, stylists and salon-goers alike swore off the look, vowing never to perm again! That is, until now. Because yes, the perm is back. And this time, it is not your mother’s perm.

In order to appreciate what perms are today, let’s first look back at the origins. In 1872, French stylist Marcel Grateau discovered he could create wave in the hair by heating a two-pronged tool over a gas burner and then applying it to the hair. This style became popular with the flapper girls of the 1920s looking to glam up their bobs with a bit of texture, a look that became known as the ‘Marcel wave’. The invention of this early form of the curling iron took Grateau from styling prostitutes in Paris’ slums to adorning French elites and celebrities with his signature look.

Marcel Waves

(Photo Credit Unknown)

While Grateau innovated women’s ability to alter the texture of their hair, the true founder of the perm was a German stylist, Charles Nessler. His method, which used hot curlers combined with a solution of cow urine and water (yikes, right?), created curls that lasted up to six months. The solution alone would be enough to turn me off, but the process was even more horrifying – the woman’s hair was wound around two-pound brass rollers that were attached to an electric machine used to heat the hair. Nessler would then apply the cow urine combo to set the curls and amp up the heat to 212 degrees Farenheit. To prevent the piping hot rollers from melting his client’s scalp, Nessler used a chandelier rigged with an intricate weight system to counterbalance the rollers. This whole rigamarole took about six hours. So the next time you think you go too far for your hair…it could be worse!

Nessler Machine

(Photo: Alfred Eisenstaedt)

After an excessive trial-and-error period, mostly practiced on his own wife who suffered burns to both her hair and scalp, Nessler debuted his contraption on October 8, 1905. And thus, the perm was born.

Over the next several decades, the perm adopted new forms and techniques, all induced in some way by heat. Then, in 1938, American electrical engineer Arnold F. Willat came out with the first cold wave perm. No heat, no machines, only two hours, and less expensive. These types of perms used chemicals (such as acid) instead of heat and grew in popularity through to the 70s, 80s and even a bit into the 90s. Cue Madonna-style hair, and Flashdance, and Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing. Then the perm died off and became a style women looked back on and laughed, “Did we really do that?”

Jennifer Grey Dirty Dancing

(Photo: Great American Films)

But, like most trends, the perm is making its comeback. Just like skinny jeans and high-waisted pants and leggings have all made their way back into everyday style, the perm resurgence is here. Every month around the salon, I notice more and more people booking in for either a partial or full perm service. The major difference between the perms we do here today and the ones of decades past is the options available. I know it’s hard to get the over-crimped, over-crazed retro perms out of our heads. But you know Blake Lively and Gisele Bundchen’s beachy, mermaidy waves? A perm can do that. You know Anne Hathaway’s perfect, no effort, ‘natural’ curls in Love and Other Drugs? A perm can do that too. And Taylor Swift’s long coils? No problem. Perms today are not all about giving you the tightest, biggest head of curls possible¬† (though we can do that if you want). They’re about creating the exact amount of wave, curl and texture you want. This new look has even given the perm a new and improved name: the ‘body wave.’

Blake Lively

(Photo: Getty Images)

Anne Hathaway LAOD

(Photo: Fox Pictures)

Taylor Swif

(Photo: Getty Images)

We have two perm masters at Sin 7 ready to give you the body and texture you’ve always longed for! All perms require a consultation first, so call us at 604-560-5360 to book in with either Chantelle¬† or Grit. Embrace the perm! Looks like it’s here to stay.