My natural straight, dark blonde hair is no stranger to dramatic changes. For 4 years it was painted a bright teal colour in between dodgy bleach jobs and uneven tones. When I split up with my ex, I decided to stop dying it, closing a chapter on my life and I was ok with that. Since then it has been relatively uninspiring. It has been a little bit short or styled into plaits and buns but overall, quite boring.
During the eternity that was lockdown, I got it init my head that I might like to get my hair permed. You all know me well enough by know for me to admit that there is no doubt I was influenced by someone online however there are many types of perms and they all hang very differently. An Instagram poll agreed that I should also take the risk of potentially ruining my hair permanent (all great decisions come from internet polls (do not quote me on this)). The idea simmered for a bit, restricted due to lockdown before retreating to the depths of my brain, laying dormant.
Well, last week I was on annual leave (my first in 9 months!) and what better way to celebrate it by impulsively booking a perm at a recommended salon. Before they could bless me with beautiful natural looking curls, I needed to pop in for a consultation to ensure my hair wasn’t too thin or too damaged. Little did I realise but those two dye free years actually allowed quite a bit of healthy hair to grow, leaving just my tips a slightly lighter colour. I was warned several times about how permanent this process would be and also reminded that it would take some time to get used to how I looked with curly hair rather than my lacklustre, unstylish straight hair. I was booked in for a 3 hour slot 2 days later.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t incredibly nervous as I climbed into that salon chair on Friday afternoon. If this turned out to be a terrible idea, it would plague my life for at least 6 months but most likely longer as my hair doesn’t grow very much. We started with a trim, my ends were dead and the longer the hair, the more weigh that pulls out the curl. To follow was the insertion of perming rods. This was a lengthy process that took at least an hour to part, wrap and secure thin segments of my hair. I asked at the time what sizes they were but have since forgotten. The centre row of hair on my head had larger curls than the sides and the different sizes gave my hair that natural, unpredictable look. It was very strange seeing all my hair wrapped up on top of my head. It certainly put into prospective how much hair I actually had.
Next came the perming solution that would break my hairs natural shape, allowing it to become a curl. This stuff has got to be one of the worst smelling things I’ve ever spelt and I work in a hospital. My hair dresser put some on each roller among sure every little inch was covered before covering my head in a plastic bag and towel for heat insulation. I was left to brew for about 20 minutes in which time I had to make sure I didn’t move my hair or the foul smell would escape. I could hear other hairdressers warning their clients that someone was getting a perm and not to be bothered by the smell I was emitting.
The next stage was a 10 minute rinse and the application of a neutraliser that would set my hair into its new shape. This one smelt a lot better! Them we started to unclip the curlers. One by one, my new curls were being released, slightly shaken but ready to bounce into the world. When I got back to my seat, I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing. I knew it was my face but it didn’t look like my face. In the past, when I’ve tried to curl my hair, it hasn’t lasted longer than an hour or so. My hair isn’t a fan of change and usually reverts back to its natural limp position regardless of how much hair spray I use. I was equally worried that after all this time and all this money that my new curls might do their usual disappearing act. I was dried and styled and given a handful of hair care tips as looking after curly hair is slightly different to straight. The hardest thing is not brushing my hair. Brushing dry curls creates frizz and separates all the ringlets. The only time I am allowed to brush my hair is in the shower when it is soaking wet. This has now become my favourite part of a shower. I love brushing my hair and it has been a very difficult habit to break.
So how do I feel about the finished product? I absolutely love it. It has been a week since I first got it permed and once I was able to wash it and style it in my own, I have gotten used to seeing it in the mirror. I feel like this hair style adds so much to my look, it reflects my bubbly personality and has just so much life to it. I couldn’t be happier. It doesn’t look amazing 24/7 and you certainly have to keep up the maintenance. Every morning I tip my head upstairs down and ruffle my roots to get back some of that volume I lost while sleeping. I also apply a curl defying serum every morning which really brings out the ringlets. Because of the curls, my hair does look duller that it did before as there isn’t a single shiny surface for light to bounce off but it still looks alive. As for damage, my hair feels as healthy as it did before. I still have a slight linger of that perming solution when I shower but I was reassured that would fade with time.
Overall, this has got to be one of the best things I’ve ever done to my hair. It is exactly how I thought it would look, natural and healthy and it is so much fun see how different hair styles look. Even when my hair is in a ponytail, the curls make it look that extra bit more alive. 2020 has certainly been the year of change…
I will put the details of the salon down below should anyone find themselves in Norwich. This isn’t a paid promotion but credit where credit is due.
Garner Hair, St Giles, Norwich and my hairdresser was the wonderful Yvonne. They do arrange of different treatments and everyone was very polite. I will be returning for any further trims.