Perms are making a comeback

The revival of 80s hair

You can always rely on your hair news experts (that’s us!) to bring you the biggest hair trends of the moment. The hairstyle making a modern comeback in 2021 is… drum roll please… the perm!

To give you a little background to this most contentious of hair trends, the perm reached the height of its popularity in the 80s. Just think of some of the greatest films from that era to appreciate how widespread the perm was at the time. There’s Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally, Jennifer Gray in Dirty Dancing, the list goes on.

Celebrities in the spotlight were sporting permed hair everywhere. From the actors in Dallas to rock stars on the stage, anyone who was anyone had an 80s perm. Or so it seemed, looking back through rose-tinted glasses (most likely in oversized fluorescent or aviator frames).

The perm is an easy styling option for individuals with poker-straight hair who are keen to introduce body as a way of counteracting an overly fine, flat appearance. Although the perm has been somewhat out of favour these past decades, people are once again falling back in love with it – not only the rich and famous; it’s featured heavily on catwalks of late too.

As with any throwback trend, the perm has undergone a transformation. Gone are tight corkscrew curls. The modern twist is loose beach waves. Gone too are plastic rods and excessive heat application which is how perms were achieved back in the day. Today’s laid-back hairdressing techniques involve soft rollers, foam pads, even plaiting for a more natural post-braid effect. Heat damage is limited by keeping the heat-shaping process at a constant temperature – called digital perming.

Despite this gentler treatment at the salon, chemical solutions are still an essential component of getting a perm. If you’ve read our earlier blogs, you’ll know that chemical ingredients can ruin your hair in a fairly major way. Access our ‘What does over-processed hair look like?’ blog to garner an insight. Chemical injuries are top of the list as one of the ‘6 reasons to sue your hairdresser’.

To avoid this fate, here’s our advice on averting disaster when having a perm:

Try alternative options first

A perm, being permanent, is a dramatic change. Once done, it’s hard to reverse, aside from simply growing it out. Experiment with different curling products – ask friends and family for recommendations, seek out reviews online, whatever. You may find something perfect for (and kinder to) your hair.

Recognise perms aren’t for everyone

If your hair’s very fine and limp, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to hold onto the new structure. If your hair’s in poor condition or bleached, perming will dry it out further still. A good cut might be in order before you begin.

Be clear about what you want

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to perms. The size, volume and finish vary vastly. Set your hairdresser’s (and your!) expectations by taking along some photos of what you’re aiming for – ideally a pic of yourself with curly hair that you love.

Insist on patch and strand tests

This necessitates dabbing a small amount of the chemical solution behind your ear and on a hidden section of hair, ideally 48 hours before getting your hair done. If you don’t experience an allergic reaction, it’s safe to proceed.

Choose a reputable hairdresser

Remember our ‘Bad salon warning signs’ blog? Keep our list of ten things to watch out for at the forefront of your mind when booking your hair appointment.

Employ great aftercare

A new hair care routine will be required afterwards such as washing with protein-rich products, using a detangler comb and drying with a diffuser. The last thing you need is to cause damage unnecessarily post salon visit. Your hairdresser should be able to offer advice on this subject.

Contact us if you’re injured by your hairdresser

It’s an unfortunate truth that perms can, and do, go wrong. Hair loss, hair damage, scalp burns and scalp blisters are some of the disastrous consequences of negligent hairdressing. If you’ve been hurt, get in touch with our specialist legal team in complete confidence to begin your claim for compensation.


Email enquiries@hairdressingclaims.co.uk, call 0800 141 3682 from a landline for free, phone 0333 202 6560 from a mobile or complete our online enquiry form.

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