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How to Style & Best Products for Men’s Perms

Thanks to celebs like Jack Harlow and Rege-Jean Page, the men’s perm is one of this year's hottest hair trends. From beachy waves to tight curls, modern perming techniques have men everywhere embracing curly hair. The men’s perm serves up ‘80s nostalgia with a modern twist, incorporating style and texture for a look that gives you perfectly on-trend curls. The men’s perm works on all hair types and takes surprisingly little effort to maintain with the right curly hair products. And because it lasts for months, you’ll do less damage to your hair than heat styling on the daily. If you’ve been thinking about making a change to your hair, why not switch it up to a more textured look that you can style a million different ways? We’re breaking down everything you need to know about the men's perm ahead!

What is a perm?

A perm, which is short for permanent, is a chemical process that alters the makeup of the hair structure, causing it to bend into curls or waves. To achieve this effect, a hair stylist wraps treated hair around rods, setting the hair into a new shape. Despite the name, perms are not actually permanent, as they only last until the hair grows out. A men’s perm is the same thing as a women’s perm — the chemical procedure is performed by a professional stylist at a hair salon to transform the hair texture from naturally straight to wavy or curly hair. A perm works best on people with straight hair looking to add texture and body. It also works well on people whose curly hair has lost its bounce. Ideally, a men’s perm is best on someone with little to no added color or bleach in their hair. Hair can be permed into whatever look you’re going for. Curls can be as loose as messy beachy waves or as tight as ringlets. To achieve different looks, a hair stylist will use soft foam rods or hard rods to roll the hair onto. The tightness of the curls depends on the diameter of the rod the stylist uses. They can also use heated rods. Depending on your hair-care routine and how quickly your hair grows, a men’s perm lasts between two and twelve months.

How to style men's perms

Types of perms

There are several different types of perms also impacting how loose or tight curls or waves are. Below is a breakdown of some of the most popular.

Setting perm

A setting perm works best on men's hair to produce long, uniformed-voluminous curls. The process involves the use of rods and a chemical perming solution, followed by a heat treatment. This is a tighter perm that’s modern with a touch of edge. Define your setting perm curls with a texturizing liquid.

Cold perm

The classic perm popularized in the 80s, a cold perm is similar to a setting perm, but without the heat. The hair is wrapped around rods followed by the application of the solution. The active chemical found in most perm solutions is ammonium thioglycolate, which contains ammonia to swell the hair and render it permeable. 

Regular perm

A regular perm produces a uniform curl pattern and gives mens hair an overall curly appearance. A regular perm will boost the elasticity of your strands, but can’t hold a candle to the volume provided by a spiral perm, which gives you varying shapes and sizes of curls.

Single action perm

Another name for the cold perm, a single action perm relies solely on the perm solution and hair wrapped around rollers or rods. This type is generally used for finer hair and people looking for tighter curls including ringlets and spirals.

Hot perm

A hot perm is a procedure of permanently curling hair using a combination of chemical restructuring and heat. During the perming process, the hair stylist sections the hair and then applies the perm solution. The following heat treatment breaks down the structure of the hair.

Digital perm

Digital perms involve a heat and chemical treatment that changes the chemical makeup of the hair. The stylist treats the hair with chemicals that restructure each strand, and follow with hot rods to curl sections of hair. Afterwards, further chemicals are applied to lock the shape into form. The result is wavy hair that can last up to a year.

Korean perm

A Korean perm is a type of soft wavy hairstyle best for straight, coarser hair and is inspired by Korean actors and Hallyu stars. Compared to traditional tighter perms, a Korean perm produces more natural-looking waves that softly add texture and volume to the hair. 

Davines This is a Curl Gel Oil

How do I style permed men's hair? 

Wondering how to style your men’s perm? These are some of the hottest ways for men to style their permed hair.

Fade perm

Great for short and medium lengths, the fade perm features low faded sides that highlight the length at the top. The fade on the sides and back gets gradually longer into curls on top. The perm should last for six months, all that needs regular maintenance is the fade.

Highlighted perm

Go all-in on your new curly hair look by getting your hair highlighted too. But keep in mind that you’ll be putting your hair under a lot of stress. Consult your stylist first and if you decide to go this route, add a nourishing oil and hair milk to your hair care routine.

Mohawk perm

If a bold new look with some edge is what you seek, switch up a typical mohawk by adding a curly center. Quick and easy to style, this look works for the low-maintenance man. Mix things up with shaved designs and spritz your curls with shiny hair products for the ultimate statement look.

Loose waves perm

A men’s perm doesn’t necessarily mean ending up with a head of coiled, super curly hair. If you want a low-maintenance style that can save you some time in the morning, the loose wave perm is just what you need. Perfect for all hair lengths, it’s true no-fuss styling. Just mist some hairspray on your waves for extra hold, and you’re good to go.

Side part perm

For a big impact with little to no styling needed, the side part perm is a great choice. It effortlessly creates an angled look that shapes your face perfectly. So why not add a side part as you learn how to style your new perm? Give it a try by parting your hair to one side and slicking it in place with a strong hold gel.

Wild perm

A medium-length, tightly coiled perm results in a perfectly tousled head of hair. This hairstyle allows you to play with length and highlight your texture. It requires cutting your hair into varying lengths, so we recommend booking an appointment with your go-to stylist to get the look.

Davines Love Curl Shampoo

Top knot perm

You can always tie your permed curls up into a top knot as an easy-to-create and on-trend style to fall back on. Easy to style and a great way to get hair out of your face, this look will become your go-to style in no time.

Are perms bad for your hair? 

A perm isn’t as potentially detrimental to your hair health as bleaching. But you're still exposing your strands to harmful chemicals that can weaken and dry them out. Perms work by altering the hair follicles to change their natural shape, and this can lead to split ends and breakage. But if done correctly, perms are not bad for your hair. Because of this, we don’t recommend using at-home perm kits. Set up a consultation with a professional before your actual perm appointment, to determine your hair’s condition. If your hair is already damaged, a stylist may advise against getting a perm.

How to take care of permed hair 

It takes some time for a perm to fully set, so be gentle with your newly-permed hair for the first three days and avoid washing or brushing. It’s also best not to tie your hair up in the first few days, as this can create kinks since the hair is still setting. When your hair is set and you are ready to wash it for the first time, be sure to use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner for extra nourishment. And because a perm exposes your strands to chemicals, it’s important to add nourishing hair serums into your hair care routine. One final note: just because you perm your hair doesn’t mean you can’t switch it up and occasionally straighten your hair with heat! Use a high quality heat protectant and your favorite straight hair styling products any time you blow dry or use a flat iron. Our products are made with renewable energy and packaging that minimizes the environmental impact. Our hair care isn’t just good for your hair, it’s good for the planet.

Transformative gel-to-oil for hydrated, well-defined curls.

Elasticizing and controlling shampoo for wavy or curly hair.

Elasticizing and controlling conditioner for wavy or curly hair.

by Jaclyn LaBadia, featured contributor

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