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Hairstyling/Vintage Perms


Hey :)

I'm a big fan of the 30s hair styles, particularly the curls and waves of that era. Since my hair is pin-straight and hates holding curls done with tongs or rollers, I've been thinking about getting a perm. I don't want small, frizzy curls but more gentle wavy curls. Can I get a perm to do this? What should I ask my stylist for?

I have long (just below shoulder-length) healthy hair and want to take good care of it. I've got friends who have had varying experiences with perms, from gorgeous results to hair falling out... I want to get it done professionally, but would you advise against it and is it likely to damage my hair?

Thanks so much!
Yas :)

Hi Yasmin,

I LOVE adding texture and movement to straight hair with this type of texture service. Your best bet is to take a LOT of photos with you. You need pics of what you like AND what you don't like. I would also find a designer that does a lot of these types of chemical services. Someone who only does one perm a month or two, isn't going to give you the design wrap you need. If you've discussed this with your designer, and s/he didn't recommend it, find one who sees it as an option.

Another thing to keep in mind; your perm isn't going to look like the photos you choose. Quite often, when people are dissatisfied with their texture services, it's because they didn't know what to expect. The texture service (perm) is designed to give you style support. It isn't going to look like the styles you love until you actually style it that way. I had a client come in just a few weeks ago that was unhappy with the perm someone else in our salon gave her. When she showed me the photos of what she asked for, I styled her hair, showed her how to do it, and all of a sudden she was thrilled and didn't need a re do. Where the previous stylist went wrong was, she didn't explain that those types of waves and curls aren't wash and wear. You'll still have to style your hair to get the look you want.

You'll need to take the pics with you because there really isn't a universal language so I can't tell you what to say that will guarantee the stylist will know what you're talking about. Pics will communicate the idea much better. Go in for a consultation and take your photos with you, IF the stylist doesn't explain to you what you'll need to do to achieve the styles you're looking for, have a consultation with another one until you find one who does. It isn't unreasonable to simply ask for whoever does the most perms in the salon. You may have to wait a bit to get an appointment but it will be worth the wait. Be sure to ask about the best shampoo and conditioner and styling aids to maintain the health of your hair after the service.   

I can tell you, in general, your stylist should use larger rods or rollers on your hair. Without being able to see your hair, that's about as much as I can tell you but it will help when you're talking to the stylist. If they bring out itty bitty gray rods, they don't have a clear vision of what you want or don't do enough perms to give you what you want.

Good luck and have fun with your waves.  


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Dana Sear


I can answer questions on all types of hairstyling, cutting, designing, coloring, corrective color, perming techniques,product knowledge, and in general, anything that has anything to do with hair. PLEASE NOTE: I am a professional designer and trainer. I do hair and teach advanced classes to licensed designers. I do not, under any circumstances, recommend doing chemical services including but not limited to relaxers, perms, color, highlights, or any other chemical service at home. I will not tell you how to use professional products nor will I tell you how to do your color at home. What I CAN do is arm you with current and accurate information and help you to be able to better communicate with your stylist/designer. I can also help you with what you need to do at home to maintain, protect, and treat your hair.


I have been a designer and educator for 31 years. I have been a salon consultant for Redken, affiliate trainer for ABBA Pure and Natural, Director of Education for my own salon and am currently a member of the design team and advanced trainer for my company. I specialize in corrective color, perming and style support, and image updates (make overs)

I have been actively licensed for 31 years. I actively participate in and teach cutting, perming, coloring, and business building classes. I am a REDKEN Certified Haircolorist, and REDKEN Specialist. I also have extensive training in Structure in Motion Cutting Techniques and Tigi Cutting.

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