Yes, it’s true—perms are back in style

In the 1980s, one hairstyle dominated: the perm. I still associate the strong chemical smell of getting a perm with total glamour, thanks to my mom sporting the curly style when I was a kid. Well, what’s old is new again because the perm is poised to make a comeback.

For a while now, hair salons have been adding the style back to their repertoire, but today’s perms aren’t exactly what you remember from the first time around.


“The perms trend back in the ‘80s had extra volume, tight waves, curly bang, and lot’s of hairspray paired with a scrunchy or headband,” Matrix SoColor celebrity stylist George Papanikolas told InStyle. “Back in the ’80s the perm looked frizzier with lots of back combing.”

Here’s a perfect example of the type of perm Papanikolas is talking about, from Instagram user @retrokitsch:

The modern perm, however, is a much more subtle style. Today’s perm is softer and more relaxed. Think: effortless beach waves.

Even the gorgeous Julianne Hough was rocking the new “perm” look back in 2016. Hough’s stylist used Olaplex Bond Multiplier No. 1, a perm solution that can be used on highlighted hair.

“It’s a great look to get an air-dried finish and a great way to give straight hair a soft bend and movement without additional heat and styling time,” Papanikolas said. “There are also modern techniques where it can be straighter at the top half with the bend in the hair starting at the mid length and ends. The other big change is using a larger rod to create a loose, soft bend in the hair. We’ve also seen a big shift away from the over styled curling iron waves to a more natural air-dry texture.”

The perm is even has a new name, with one branded service called the “American Wave.” Here’s a shot of how it looks in progress from the Silver Rose Tanning & Hair Salon:

If you don’t like the spongy rollers, then look for salons that have the soft, bendable rollers, like the Paris Parker Salon & Spa.

And the result is super pretty!

Notice that the curls aren’t super tight and frizzy like the old days, as Instagram user @mollymclemore shows us:

The American Wave perm adds texture and wave to the hair without making it look fried!

SalonVirtue206 on Instagram is totally into the American Wave and making it look contemporary and chic!

The style works for all ages and hair colors, too.

So what do you think? Would you get a perm, or are some trends better left in the past?