And Just Like That has brought back so many beloved aspects of Sex and the City, from towering stilettos to Aidan. But there’s one thing we’ve really been missing that hasn’t made a comeback yet—okay, besides Samantha. We’re talking Carrie Bradshaw’s big, bouncy natural curls. While her tresses still look gorgeous blown out, there’s just something about her natural texture. Though her curls haven’t appeared on the series, they are showing up all over TikTok in a surprising way—the perm is making a comeback.
This time around, the perm is a little different. Yes, ‘80s curls are back, but the modern perm looks more natural and is less damaging than the OG version.“Believe it or not, there’s lots of young men and women professionally perming their hair and then straightening their hair to get a ‘surf flip;’ it’s all over TikTok,” says Harry Josh, Kerasilk Brand Ambassador and Harry Josh Pro Tools Founder. Shaggy styles like Debby Ryan’s recent perm are also popular, as are true Bradshaw-inspired ringlets.
Another reason the perm is making a comeback is it’s easy to maintain and style. “I think current trends are lending to lower maintenance styles which tend to work best on hair with texture,” says Steven Picciano, Goldwell National Artist from KAO Salon. “The best way for someone with straight hair to be wash and wear is to add some movement.”
Perm curious? Read on for everything you need to know about getting a modern perm.
How Modern Perms Are Different
Modern perms are different from the perms of yesteryear in two ways, according to Picciano. “Either the technique to wrap the perm has improved (larger rods and smarter placements) or the product used overall is smarter, less damaging and some are even demi-permanent, meaning they fade out of your hair rather than behave as permanent which would have to grow out completely,” he says.
How Long Does a Perm Last?
“It depends on the beginning state of the hair and how tightly it is permed, but usually it actually grows out slowly,” Josh says. “Perms are amazing and can transform your image. The one drawback is the grow out process—it’s never graceful and often requires a chop.”
However, if you opt for a texture service, those are great because they fade away. “Goldwell NuWave can last three to five months depending on your current hair color, condition and density,” Picciano says. “I love this option because clients don’t feel overly committed. A texture service can be fun for summer and then fade itself away.”
Who does a Perm Work for?
Perms can actually work on all types of hair. “They can be used to increase texture on straight or wavy hair or they can be used to create a smoother, more consistent curl for higher textured clients,” Picciano says.
What to Know Before Getting a Perm
It’s best to address other hair needs before you get a perm. “Have your color done first,” Picciano says. “Make sure your roots are addressed and any blonding has been done at least two weeks before your texture service.”
Making sure you and your hairstylist are on the same page first is crucial. “There are perms and there are body waves, which is a very relaxed perm that just gives texture but not curls,” Josh says. “Before getting either of these treatments, make sure you talk to your stylist in detail so you can manage expectations.”
Expect to spend two to three hours at the salon getting a perm. “After your consultation, your hair will be washed and then wrapped in the perm rods,” Picciano says. “These have changed over the years. Goldwell NuWave has a quick wrap system that I love. After everything is wrapped the perming solution is applied and processed. After checking for the right amount of curl your hair will be rinsed and neutralized. Following that styled and you’re all set.”
How to Maintain a Perm
To extend the life of your perm, avoid over-washing. “The point of low maintenance is to have less to do which includes how often you should wash your hair,” Picciano says. “A daily rinse and condition is okay but shampoo every third day for the best longevity and result.”
Also, take caution when heat styling. Always use a diffuser to dry it and never blow dry it straight. “Constant flat ironing on certain textures will weaken the perm at a faster rate,” Josh says.