We take a break from our regularly scheduled DIY/recipe/lifestyle blogging to talk about something on my mind…

When I was about 16 or 17, I discovered that with a little help from some product and a diffuser, I could get my hair to curl! Well, maybe more of a curly wave, but curly nonetheless! I had always been jealous of my sisters who had natural curls (shout-out to Bethany and Julia!) and was so excited to realize that there was this texture hidden in my hair.

Can modern perm techniques recreate long lost curls | Hello Victoria

Oh wow, 18 year old Amy in all her no-makeup, no-eyebrows glory…

For a while, when I had the time, I would diffuse my hair – figuring out all sorts of tricks to get it to curl the way I wanted. But the problem with diffusing a full head of long hair? Time! When diffusing curly hair, you need your hair dryer on its lowest speed, with high heat, to get the best result.

Low Speed + High Heat = Eons of Drying Time

I hate wet hair, so would never just let it air dry; which meant that when I was short on time, I had to go straight.

Then, a number of years back, some genius with a straightening iron discovered she could curl hair with it! Like most people, it took a bit of practice to get the hang of, but once I did, I could dry my hair and curl it with my straightening iron far faster than I could dry it with a diffuser. This method wasn’t just fast, but flawless! The problem with diffusing natural texture is that the hair doesn’t always cooperate. And so began my 2+ year love affair with straightener curls, which morphed into curling wand curls… etc.

Now, as you can probably imagine, all this straightening and curling with heat took its toll on my hair’s texture. When I had the time to curl it with a diffuser, it no longer seemed to cooperate. The curls were lifeless at best, and I was forced to touch it up with a curling iron to get any body at all. All those years of straightening my hair had caused it to lose what I loved about it most.

Now, some people would probably be okay with this change, after all, it was easier to straighten, and I knew I could curl it with an iron if I wanted. But see, Richard looooooves my natural hair texture. Or at least, he loved what it was like before. We met while we were both volunteering in Nepal about 9 years ago, where I had no access to a diffuser or hair dryer. I brought a bit of mousse (or was it gel?) with me while traveling, and that was it. Not sure if it was the humidity, or the lack of showering (hooray for natural hair oils!), but my hair never curled better than it did in Nepal. Sigh.

Can modern perm techniques recreate long lost curls | Hello Victoria

this is literally a photo taken after I swam in a dirty river with an elephant and air dried my hair

And that’s the mental image Richard has of me after all these years – slightly tousled, but naturally curly (not to mention kind of dirty and gross… why did he fall for me?!) He loved my hair most because this was during the height of “poker straight” hair popularity – every other girl was going for Gwenyth Paltrow straight locks, and here I was sporting naturally curly brown hair.

Debating modern perm techniques | Hello Victoria

And of course, because he thinks I look so beautiful when I have my natural hair, I started to realize just how great it was to have natural texture.

So how do you get it back? I’ve tried regular hair cuts to get rid of damage, reducing the amount of heat I use, heat protectant spray, etc. etc. etc… I can get some texture when my hair is shorter, but any weight makes it lifeless again.

Enter, the title for this post (it’s like a Harry Potter book, where you’re waiting to find out where the title comes from) and my search for a modern natural looking perm. Perms have come a long way since their 80’s heyday. Now, instead of just one roller size, you can get much larger natural-bouncy-curl sizes! The chemicals can even be ‘organic’ (apparently), and the result is much more modern. I’m not looking for a digital perm, as those don’t get up to the root of the hair (perfect for beach waves, not for what I want) but rather a traditional spiral perm, with large rollers in a couple of sizes. I want to get my curl back – can it be done?

Modern perm inspiration | Hello Victoria

Modern perm inspiration | Hello Victoria

Inspiration photos for the type of curl I am after

I’ve been trying to find a salon in greater London that has good reviews for a natural looking perm (spiral not digital) but can’t seem to find any other than one craazzy expensive one. I may have to just try a place nearby and hope it’s good… but would you do that for something so perm-anent? Anyone else lost their hair’s texture because of all the heat they use?

Okay, random rant done – back to regular posts next week.

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2 Comments on To Perm or Not to Perm

  1. Did you go for it? How do you like it? Any pics?
    Your hair looks and sounds very much like mine. I’ve had the same issue now too. Although I think for me it’s due to age and hormones or something as I don’t use a lot of products or heat on my hair except for one trade show a year, when I’m trying to look “professional”. My hair is just sorta schizophrenic. It even changed color on its own when I had babies. It goes back and forth between levels of wavy / somewhat curly, and was stick straight for a very brief time as a kid and now seems to be going that direction again. And just like you – part of me is pleased with how easy it is to straighten now (used to be a nightmare), but I miss my old curl and even my defiant waves. Straight just feels too “done”. Makes me feel like a HAVE to wear make-up. Doesn’t suit my more casual, easy-going and adventurous personality.
    A long long time ago in my youth I tried to get a salon to do a perm using truly big rods (like the sponge rollers I could set my hair on at night). For some reason they were all afraid to try it. The place I found that promised they would do it, changed their mind last minute and I felt obligated to go through with the old tiny spiral rods, which just left my hair kinky (no defined curl whatsoever) which fell out rather quickly. I hate that look on me anyway, but it was an expensive waste. The happiest I’ve been with the old traditional perm rods was when I insisted on 2-3 different rod sizes, that they not line the rows up perfectly and that they switch directions every other rod. I also told them to pull the hair straight up and out rather than down. I can’t believe how expensive these things have gotten in the last dozen or so years – but am super tempted to try it again. Maybe a root perm this time.

    • Hi Mrs. W, yes I did got for it, and my result was the same as yours.
      The stylist I went to (at a salon I had been before, and had a good cut with another stylist) said it was totally doable from the photos I showed. He seemed confident it was possible to achieve the look I wanted, so I booked in. Well I went home in tears as the ‘large’ rods he used left my hair only mildly kinky with no visible curl whatsoever. It fell out very quickly.
      The salon was kind enough to book me in a second time (and refund me) to try and fix it, but it was more of the same.
      I may try to cut my hair short again to get back more curl, or try another salon. Still on the hunt for a way to fix my hair, but no solution yet!

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