Thursday, 24 March 2011

Hair raising adventures

So, last week I took the plunge and got my perm done.
It's taken a lot of umming and ahhing to decide whether to get it done, and then where and what get done.
I did some online research, and spoke to someone who used to cut my hair. The online information was next to useless - there don't seem to be many recommendations for salons outside of London and the hairdresser just said "don't get a perm, it'll ruin your hair". Thanks for that.
So, in the end I looked online for a hairdresser who listed perms as one of their services. I wanted someone who was familiar enough with perms to talk through the look I wanted. Fleur suggested using an old lady salon when she got a perm, but I got a lot of blank looks when asking about perms in all the likely places near me, so in the end I went the other way and found someone young and funky who wouldn't try to make me look like Cheryl Cole.
In the end the hairdresser I chose works freelance at a salon near my work, and is Japanese. Did you know the Japanese are big into their perms? Me neither, but apparently they are.
I met her and talked through what I wanted, as well as showing her some pictures. She agreed that a light wave would be best for what I want and that this should help me achieve a better pin curl. She also didn't bat an eyelid at the suggestion of 40s hairstyles and loved the Lauren Rennells book. Win.
So last week I went back and took the plunge.
Here I am trussed up like a turkey, cooking gently.
If you've never had a perm (like me), the process is as follows;
1. Wash hair and put in curlers, use cotton wool to stop drippage
2. Apply perming lotion (this stinks, it made my eyes water) and wrap hair with binliner, cook for 15 mins
3. Rinse lotion off and apply another perming lotion, wrap and cook again
4. Remover rollers and wash
5. Dry and style

The whole process took about 2 hours and most of that was the rollering and drying, the cooking part only took about 15-20 mins for each type of lotion.
The curlers she used were Japanese and bigger than standard UK curlers apparently, we talked it through and agreed we should err on the side of bigger to avoid any nasty, curly surprises! She said that this was a 'standard set'.

And here's the finished product!

I know if doesn't look much, but my hair has always been poker straight, not even a slight kink, wave or bend anywhere in it. Now it permanently looks like it's been professionally blow dried, which is fine with me.
I think that when I go back I will ask for a size smaller, to get a tighter curl, but I am happy that this is subtle.

Here it is wet, the curl is far more obvious.
After washing I mostly dried it, added some setting lotion and bunged it up in some pincurls.
Note to self - smaller curls with less hair. Previously this sort of set has given me a curly wave and so was fine. I hadn't expected the curls to come out like this! The perm's obviously helped the curl to take better already.
Brushed out - the curl's held well.
And pulled back for a gardening session.
 The curls held well that day but did drop quite a bit on Sunday. Next time I'd take more care putting plenty of setting lotion on (I was a bit half-arsed this time) and more care making the curls small and regular. I am pretty confident I'd get 2 good days and maybe a third less impressive day out of this sort of set.

I would absolutely recommend a perm to anyone who's dithering - at the very least my limp, fine hair looks more styled and fuller when unstyled, and it's made a difference to the styling I do do as well.

It has made my hair dryer, but not dramatically so and when conditioned it doesn't frizz that much. A little serum is all I've used to keep it smooth.

Some tips I found about perms while researching;
1. Don't wash it for 48 hours after, same goes for ethusiastic brushing
2. Condition, condition, condition. Hot oils, leave in conditioners and deep treatments are your new best friends.
3. Nylon bristles are your new worst enemies
4. Use products designed for permed hair as they contain less alcohol and will dry your hair less
5. You can always have it redone if you don't like it, but it will do more damage to your hair, so think about it carefully before taking the plunge!

In case anyone's interested, my hairdresser was Yumiko Jones and she works in London and Bristol. She is super nice and really listened to what I wanted. She said one of the reasons she likes England is that people have individual style. She was interested in the 40s hairstyles I showed her and treated my demands like they were the most natural thing in the world. It's always nice not to have the justify your requests (why do you want pointed nails/half moons/arched brows?)!


  1. It looks great! Beautiful before and after pin-curling! I'm going to tip my friend with superstraight hair about this. Thanks for the review!

    Oh, not sure if you do this; but I doscovered my curls last a lot longer if I take 20 min in the evening to re-roll it. Not as carefully as the first time (about half as many rolls), and dry without setting lotion or anything.
    Have fun playing with your new hair! =)

  2. Looks really nice, I especially like the gardening look. I am lucky that I have naturally curly hair, I straightened it once and it looked very odd. At least with the perm you won't have to put it in rags each night.

  3. fabulous! It looks great and not overdone! Perfect for some 40's pincurls!!

  4. Very nice. Definitely something to consider.

  5. Hair looks lovely all brushed out and styled. You have the cut I am pondering getting - just need to gear up the guts to get it done!

    Also - we have the same owl cushion *wink*

  6. Very nice, much more subtle than I would have expected from a perm! XX

  7. Landgirl - you have impeccable taste! ;)

    Erika - If your friend has any questions I'd be happy to answer them, I know it's pretty nerve wracking to go ahead with a perm!

  8. Hi
    Ive been umming and Ahhing about a digital perm and have looking at travelling to bristol to see yumiko. Would you recommend it? Did you get it done again?