Want permanently wavy hair? We break down the difference between types of perms and the top salons in Singapore to get them...
New to perms? Don’t panic if what comes to mind are ’80s-style, frumpy, tight curls – those frizzy fuzzbombs are a thing of the past. Thanks to modern hair innovations, perms are now gentler and more natural-looking; you can achieve anything from beachy waves to large and loose ringlets. Chuck those curlers aside; we promise those hours you spend attempting to create perfect mermaid waves are now over. Plenty of salons in Singapore offer an array of perms, so you’re in for treat – just remember to thoroughly research first. To help you get started, here’s our guide to the different types of perms, and where to get them. And yes, we tested some out for ourselves!
Review: digital perm at Hair Inc
Perms have definitely come a long way since our mums rocked some pretty spectacular ‘dos: the digital perms we’re dealing with today are all about softer curls that define your existing waves or introduce some natural-looking bounce. But heads up: ‘virgin hair’ that hasn’t been rebonded or coloured will get you the best results. ”The stars do need to align,” says Kenneth Goh, director of Hair Inc salon, which has branches in Serangoon Gardens and Holland Village.
Luckily, I struck gold. My brief? Natural waves that are super low maintenance. First, my hair was trimmed to provide structure for the digital perm. You might have heard about S-perms and C-perms – this simply refers to the size of the curls. I had a natural-looking mix of slight waves and big curls, placed only in the bottom 3-4 inches of my hair. Lotion is applied to break the bond, you sit in the chair for a while… have your hair washed… and wait. So far, so relaxing. It took around two hours, with a pep talk on how to finger curl my hair, and how to keep it nourished to prevent the dreaded frizz. Sure enough, when I put a tiny bit of effort in to scrunch and twirl my hair while drying, the waves look natural but defined – just what I wanted.
– Selina, Honeycombers Editor
Want defined waves for yourself? We’ve got a special treat for Honeycombers readers: enjoy a Digital Perm + Mucota Treatment at Hair Inc at the special price of $188 (normally $576)!
Hair Inc 76A Serangoon Garden Way, Singapore 555972, p. 6487 4778 and 26C Lorong Mambong, Holland Village, Singapore, 277685 p: 9003 9568
The types of perm techniques…
The most traditional of the lot is the cold perm. The age-old process begins with dry hair divided into sections, then curled around perm rods. A cold solution is then applied to soak hair before a neutraliser is used to further lock in the curls. Small to medium rods are typically used in cold perms for extremely defined curls. Curls from a cold perm are usually more prominent when wet.
Pros: It’s the most affordable, and is less damaging to the scalp since rods are usually applied on the ends of hair.
Cons: Expect very tight curls with cold perms. These will loosen over time, but if you’re looking for natural-looking waves, this isn’t for you. The process usually takes longer, with an average timing of two hours or more.
Digital perm (hot perm)
The main difference between a cold and digital perm is the use of heat. Like the former, hair is sectioned and curled with medium to large perm rods. A chemical will then be applied to break down hair structure. Next, curlers will be attached to a machine with a timer and temperature control. Curls from a digital perm are most noticeable when dry.
Pros: A digital perm usually involves a shorter time to process. Curls are looser, more natural-looking and requires less styling and maintenance.
Cons: Digital perms are more expensive, and don’t work on all types of hair – it’s best for thicker, coarser Asian hair.
Types of perms
This one’s our fave if you’ve got frizzy hair but still want lustrous waves. Like its name suggests, the treatment involves two services in one. A straightening solution is applied to hair, usually from roots to ear length or longer, depending on your preference and stylist’s recommendations. A flat iron is then used to reset the structure of hair and make it straight, before a neutraliser is applied and washed out. Once done, a digital perm will be carried out on the ends of hair for natural-looking waves.
S-curl, C-curl or J-curl rebonding
The S-curl, C-curl or J-curl rebonding involves the same process as above, except with different types of curling effects. The first is more suitable for longer hair (chest length), and involves tighter curls for a wavier appearance, and layers of volume. The second refers to inward curls at the ends for a gentle, bob-like appearance, while the last involves curls at the ends which fan outwards.
Root volume perm
If your hair’s looking too limp from too much rebonding, or is naturally flat, a perm from the roots may be exactly what you need for added va-va-volume. Curlers will be added only to sections of your crown to give roots additional height, body and volume. Other variations do exist, where ends of hair are also curled for additonal volume.
Those permanent beachy waves you’ve always wanted? This one’s your answer. Using a cold perm, this method creates lighter, relaxed, tousled waves throughout the mane. Unlike a digital perm, you don’t have to twist your hair while styling – simply apply products and blow dry as usual.
Korean wave perm
Similar to a Japanese perm, this one similarly uses a cold perm method. But unlike the former, the Korean wave perm features more defined curls and volume for a sophisticated appearance. To keep curls defined, scrunch up hair while blow-drying.
Like this story? Check these out:
Our guide to Singapore’s best hair salons
Fight the frizz! Yes, your hair can defy Singapore’s humidity
Forget the perm: I want my hair coloured
And I want to colour my hair at home