For a year now, I've been growing my hair from a bob to mid-shoulder length. My once permed — and damaged beyond reason — hair has grown straight and flat at the head, leaving only soft loose curls that curl out at all random directions at the end. Simply put, it was a mess.
Before the perm
It fell somewhere in the middle of two textures (well, maybe three, if I were to include the parched split ends) and I felt like I either had to straighten it or curl it everyday for it to look relatively polished.
But I'm lazy, and if I must say so myself: Ain’t nobody got time for that.
So one day as I was scrolling through Instagram, I came across Krystal Jung’s — Korean singer from the girl group f(x) — perfect tousled tight waves and I thought, “That. That’s the kind of hair I want.”
She didn't have the kinky ‘80s crunchy curls from days of yore. And it wasn’t the typical Korean-style C, S or even J curls which we’re so used to seeing on literally every Asian celebrity’s shoulder nowadays — you know, the kind of curls which were straighter at the upper midsection and loosely curled at the ends. She had that cool, loosely crimped hair that rode all the way up to the roots.
I visited Mi the Salon for a hair perming service. They are notable for their attention to the customer’s needs; their tailormade hair services cater to each customer’s own hair condition and lifestyle. Before Gary Chew, the Founder and Director of the salon, started working on my hair, he checked with me to make sure that I had the time and energy to maintain this certain perm. Should I have said no, I’m sure he would have recommended other types of hairstyles that would fit more seamlessly into my ‘hectic’ lifestyle. But hey, I was determined to pull off those tousled tight waves.
As mentioned earlier, my hair was damaged to say the least. I was afraid it would feel dry and get frizzy after the treatment, but my worries were unfounded.
Gary trimmed my hair (adieu, horrid split ends!) and applied a Korean Gloss treatment on my locks to strengthen the condition of my hair before the perm. According to him, the treatment prevents dehydration of the hair and strengthens the hair follicles before the application of chemicals.
He then applied L’oreal’s Smartbond on my tresses. Meant for protecting and strengthening hair during any heat or colouring services, the product also holds a curl better and ensures that it lasts longer by reducing the levels of moisture in the hair. The heaviness and density of moisture weighs down on curls, which can cause it to lose its bounce after some time.
After pre-treatment, it was time to perm. My head was covered in curlers and heat was applied. The staff at the salon made it a point to check with me regularly if the heat was fine, and he would adjust the temperature accordingly when I felt like it was getting too hot. In less than 30 minutes, my hair was ready to go. They washed my hair and gave it a blowout before revealing the final result:
The entire session took about five hours. To my delight, my hair felt bouncier and smoother than when it was before I had permed it — the condition of my hair actually improved! I was really satisfied with the results, I finally got the volume I wanted from my hair and the tight curls gave me a messy-in-a-good-way look.
It’s been a month since I’ve permed my hair. Now after I wash my hair, I apply a dollop of hair oil and styling balm for hold before blow drying it.
One of the other tools I use to dry my hair is a paper towel (it’s a trick I learnt online). When it's damp even after a blowout, I just scrunch portions of my hair up into a paper towel to absorb the extra water. This helps to keep the curls bouncy as compared to rough drying with a towel. The process takes about ten minutes, tops.
One thing I’ve learnt within the month of caring and maintaining my curls: Do not, and I repeat, DO NOT apply heat to your permed tresses when you dry it with a hair dryer — or any other styling tools for that matter. Heat can damage the hair and loosen the perm. After I switched to a ‘cool’ setting on my hairdryer, I found that my curls would be more defined the day after.
(L-R): Before the perm, 1 month after the perm
Since the day I got my hair permed, the curls have definitely loosened up — but it’s not something I’m mad about. They look like natural beach waves with a soft body.
I’ve also received a number of compliments on how chic the curls looked. While I was at the salon, Gary also gave his insight on how he felt like this new style of curls will soon reemerge as a hot trend amongst Asian girls. Perhaps we’re truly moving away from the age of relaxed waves and on to bigger, more voluminous curls.
I, for one, am all for it.
C , S , J / Tousled wave perm at Mi the Salon, prices start from $250