There is a certain art to ensuring one’s mane looks effortlessly put together when you step out the door in the morning. Whilst some of us may have the privilege of pulling off that untouchable appeal of appearing hot and dishevelled, others have benefitted from the diligent combination of an extra fifteen minutes and a nifty set of heat tools pre-departure. Yet even the best of us sometimes wish we too could be whisked away in a vanity chair à la Mia Thermopolis from Princess Diaries—for that grand makeover-worthy transformation. Which notably also involved taming her wild, textured tresses into a magnificent mane of soft, loose waves that fell gently over her shoulders. But for some, the desired effect is hardly dissimilar, but rather hair stylists and salons find themselves having to work in reverse order: to put in the curls into extremely straight, thin and fine hair.
Yet the truth of the matter is that not every perm option amidst the array of perm styles out there, is the one for you. Depending on your hair type, a hot or ‘digital’ perm would be better suited for curling your tresses and in certain cases, the cold perm—which minimises heat use—shall be your knight in shining armour. “Different hair types have varying levels of resistance to chemical treatments and certain perm styles might work better on specific hair textures,” offers Den Ng, celebrity hair stylist and director of Prep Luxe Salon. And for those of you who still need the reminder: bleached and coloured hair should definitely avoid the additional treatment, considering how prone to breakage your strands would be by this point. “In reality, the outcome of a perm can vary based on hair condition, and not all hair types may hold the curls as well,” he adds.
Whilst this might prove to be a challenge to overcome, we at Vogue Singapore have gathered a dependable guide on some of the perms you can request for when you book in at the salon—based on Ng’s recommendations.
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Body wave perm
For anyone who’s looking for a more natural perm look, the body wave perm strikes a good balance. Characterised by “loose, natural-looking waves” that can start from the top of the head, “body wave perms create loose, voluminous waves rather than tight, defined curls,” explains Ng. They’re ideal for adding texture and movement—working best for people with straight or slightly wavy hair.
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The S-curl perm just might be the one to go for if you want that light yet voluminous look and feel to your new do. The S-curl perm gives to “soft and bouncy curls” that will add volume and movement to the hair without appearing overtly tight or heavily processed. “For those with extremely straight or thin hair, this particular digital perm can provide a longer-lasting result compared to a traditional perm if the heating rod used is a smaller one—for a better holding result.
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Helming from South Korea, the C-curl offers the appealing illusion of a mane effortlessly styled for the day—yet has the permanence of up to a few months. By shaping the ends of one’s locks into the shape of the letter ‘C’, it creates a slight inward or outward curl that seems natural, whilst helping to frame the face.
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The cold perm is actually the original, classic perm type—that are otherwise known as alkaline perms. Whilst they don’t require additional heat during the perming process, your hair stylists would definitely require more time as it relies on solely chemicals to take effect rather than heat. According to Ng, “these perms are best for fine or delicate hair, as the milder chemicals are actually less damaging” and you can still achieve soft, natural-looking waves with it.
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A root perm is not immediately recognisable as it is often meant to give a volume boost to the section of your hair around your roots so it doesn’t fall flat. Instead, it can be paired with other perm options or simply used as a method to texturise limp strands—and can hence be used on any hair types from straight to wavy and curly.
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Volumising or setting perm
This particular perm is best to give a dramatic zhuzh up to your tresses—as it uses a combination of “voluminous curls” of different degrees—some looser and some tighter—to create a more textural appearance. It’s most noticeable once its dried out and is great for those who are personally leaning to the entire curly bonanza.