Perms through the ages (and why they might be back in!)
Popularized in the '70s and '80s, perms (or, permanent waving, if you're proper) have seen many forms over the years. There have been perm rods in the hair of everyone from Cher to Jon Bon Jovi, and even your very own grandmother, probably. So, what was the hype about back then, and why have we seen more and more demand recently after decades of the trend lying dormant?
What Is A Perm?
If you're new to the hair world, and you've never had to endure the pungent aroma of a perm, the concept may be foreign to you. Essentially, a perm, or permanent wave, is a chemical process that alters the bonds in your hair, and re-sets them, so that your hair will permanently take the shape of whatever sized curling rods they're wrapped around.
a brief history
Though perms can be traced back to 1872, the original method involved electric heated rollers rigged up like a chandelier, and was known to burn a scalp every now and then. The first iteration of a "cold wave" perm, like the ones we see today, wasn't invented until 1938. However, this process could still take anywhere from 6-8 hours, and involved harsh chemicals that were damaging to hair. So, it wasn't until the 1970s when Acid Perms, a gentler and more efficient chemical method, were invented, that perms became more widely popular. Cut to: one of your relatives giving another one of your relatives a home perm at the kitchen table in an old photo album.
why they're coming back
Just like any other trend that makes a comeback, the perm has evolved to fit the aesthetic of modern day; which, fortunately, does not involve any Aqua Net. So, what is the reasoning for this resurgence in popularity?
In recent years, with a major shift in the mainstream beauty industry toward more natural looks overall, and more and more people are rocking their natural hair texture. However, the same shift that allowed for curls to make a comeback, has a brought along the "I woke up like this" mentality, hence the rise of services like eyelash extensions and microblading for eyebrows. I believe this is, in part, what inspired the rejuvenation of permed hair amongst younger people; the desire for a more long-term style.
Whether we like it or not, it seems that there is a new generation adopting the curling techniques of our predecessors. Only time will tell if this is merely a fad for the moment, or whether perms really are as permanent as their name implies.