TikTok really is the place where you can sabotage a Trump rally one day, and sabotage your self-esteem the next. (We fell into a very deep Chinese street style TikTok hole.) The lastest and greatest thing that’s surging in popularity thanks to the social media app? Perms. And specifically ‘male’ perms on guys, boys, and dudes of all genres. Take a quick peek into #perm and you’ll find a myriad of hair transformation videos, the majority of them from men.
Is this some kind of slow-burn Timothée Chalamet copycatting? Or maybe guys have finally cottoned on to the open-secret behind many K-pop idol’s good hair days? Uncertain. But hey, they look pretty good.
What exactly is a perm?
The TikTok perm videos, which are ofc very short as is de rigueur for TikTok, show cute transformations but kinda make the perming process look a bit less intense than it actually is. Even a modern perm requires a bit of work and time in the chair.
Dana Monkman of Toni & Guy explained it (in brief) to ELLE. “To begin the process, we set perming solution and our perming rods, which can vary in size depending on the tightness of the curl that you want,” says Monkman. “The time for this to set varies and will depend on the curl and texture of the hair. We then rinse the hair and apply a second solution which sets the hair in shape. To finish, the rods are removed and the hair rinsed thoroughly.”
It’s worth noting that it’s ideal that your hair is in pretty good condition pre-perm. Most hairdressers wouldn’t take you curly if your hair very bleached or colour damaged, so if you’re thinking of trying one, prepare to wait until your hair is in optimal condition.
How do you take care of a perm?
After the initial cost and time though, it could be quite a good option for those who want a relatively low-touch style. Depending on how tight you go with your curls, a perm can last anywhere from three to six months. Monkman explains that the tighter your curls are to begin with, the longer the life of the perm.
As some of us learnt from Legally Blonde, or (more likely) from the memes about Legally Blonde, there are some post-TikTok perm care instructions to note. “The first cardinal rule of perm maintenance that you are forbidden to wet your hair for at least 24 hours after getting a perm at the risk of deactivating the ammonium thioglycolate,” says Elle Woods. The lawyer’s info stands, and it’s also important to keep your hair in good condition with the right haircare and nourishing treatments.
After that though, there’s nothing really left to do except whip your (curly) hair back and forth.