Perms: The Modernized Trend

Nidia Torres, Staff Reporter

According to local hair stylists, perms have become a trend lately, with people of all genders stopping by salons to get a curly new hairdo. From simple cuts and manly trims to sleek styles and womanly bobs, many people might not always venture out to show off an extraordinary hairstyle.

Among the hairstyles that are ‘in’ right now, some people may not have known that perms have been a thing for many years. However, it might surprise you just how many people aren’t fully aware of just how perms work.

Bluestone Academy of Cosmetology Stylist Instructor Alicha Mecham has been in the business of beauty for 14 years. According to Mecham, she’s had to do “more than a handful” of perms.

Mecham said perms are a type of hairstyle that can be done with heat or with chemicals. At Bluestone, perms are done chemically. This means that they use an alkaline chemical to breach the hair’s cuticle, resulting in semi-permanently curly hair, lasting up to six months.

Mecham said that once the alkaline goes into the cuticle, it begins to break down the disulfide bonds, which then changes the hair’s form into the client’s desired one. While hair length is not an issue when it comes to perms, the type of hair does matter. 

“Fine hair is harder to perm, but you can perm any texture of hair,” said Mecham. “Fine hair has a more compact cuticle.”

Darlene Machin, an Ellensburg resident, has had her hair permed before. In Machin’s case, her fine hair didn’t pose an issue for her when she got her hair permed for the first time at age 10. 

“I have very fine hair and a perm made it look fuller,” Machin said.

Machin continued to perm her hair until the age of 20. Two things she would have liked to know more about before getting her hair permed were the care and maintenance that came with it.

While her hair did not suffer any damage, she did experience an after effect of having permed hair: the grow out. 

When a client’s hair grows out, there is a mix of natural hair peaking at the top and the chemically altered curls still noticeable at the bottom. 

According to Mecham, perms can last quite a while and even longer with the proper maintenance. 

“As long as you’re using decent shampoo and conditioner,  you can’t shampoo for 48 hours after your perm,” Mecham said. 

However, when a client’s hair does grow out, there is a mix of natural hair peaking at the top and the chemically altered curls still noticeable at the bottom.

To better take care of permed hair, people should use a shampoo and conditioner that does not contain any sulfates and sulfites that, according to Mecham, can damage your hair. Also using a hair mask once in a while can help maintain permed hair as well.

The clientele Bluestone Academy has recently acquired consists of young adults and teens. 

“You know, we’ve been doing perms on younger people more lately,” Mecham said. “I would say I’ve been seeing more boys for perms than girls.”

Mecham believes that perms started to become a trend among middle school and highschool boys about a year-and-a-half ago. 

“I think there was some celebrity that got a perm and the boys just loved it and we’ve done quite a few,” Mecham said.

Chelsey Milner is a student at Bluestone Academy as well. She’s worked there for six months and can also vouch for Mecham about their recent clientele. 

According to Milner, she’s done about five perms on boys recently. 

“They’ve been getting, like, their mullets permed and then [the] younger kids get like the top of their head permed,” Milner said.

According to data provided by Mecham, Bluestone Academy has done about 42 perms since the start of October.

For the men and women considering perms, Mecham suggests to have realistic expectations. 

“A lot of people come in and they show me pictures of hair that has been thermally styled with a curling iron or flat iron and they want that to be their permed hair and it’s not realistic,” Mecham said. “The expectations are not always what they should be.”