What is a Digital Perm?

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Perms are back. I know, I thought it was a thing of the 90’s too. Sure, my 76 year old grandmother still gets hers done every few months, but I’m talking about 20 somethings, 30 somethings – namely me – perming their locks. Thankfully, perms have received a revamp of sorts and now they’re gorgeous. No more “Best in Show” poodle hair, no more Tina Turner puff balls. Whether you’re going for Surfer Girl Locks, Movie Star Waves or the famous Kate Middleton you really can get it – with a perm. I know! 

When I thought about getting a perm, it was  a little like getting a tattoo. I thought I would need at least half a year to think about it. The good news is that unlike a tattoo, a digital perm is much less permanent. It usually last four to six months. While it might be emotionally painful for some, (what if it doesn’t turn out? What if I look like a poodle?!) there is about zero physical discomfort, unless you count butt numbness from sitting in the chair.

Like everything else in the 21st century perms have gone digital, and like just about everything else it’s made life better. This Japanese invention uses heated rollers, regulated by a digital temperature panel.  With a digital perm every curler in your hair is attached to a computer that can be programmed to heat up to very specific desired temperatures, giving the stylist a greater degree of control over the whole process. Which means you can have just about any type of curly look you want, even the much loved Victoria’s Secret Runway Angel wavy hair men melt for.

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After the perm, people may be surprised at how tight the curls are initially. Be prepared for this, and don’t panic when you find that the curls don’t look the way you expected right away. The curls loosen quickly!

The Difference

So what’s the difference anyhow? The biggest difference between the digital perm and the regular (cold) chemical perm is the chemical application process. Digital perms require heat application, that’s why it’s called a hot perm. The “old” method only required the perm solution to be applied cold directly to the hair.

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Another large difference if the way your hair behaves afterward. With a digital perm your hair takes on more and more curl as it dries, whereas with the traditional perm you’d have to apply some type of moisture in the form of gels or curling creams to achieve that curl. With a digital perm, the only styling you have to do is a bit of hair spray and a twirl of your finger and you’re done!

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Lastly, because of the high temperatures  the rollers cannot be kept too close to your scalp, which means that a digital perm won’t add as much volume at the roots as a cold perm would. However, this also means that you will get those gorgeous loose curls.

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8 thoughts on “What is a Digital Perm?”

  1. As soon as I read your first sentence, my heart started racing. I’m SO not ready for the perms of the 80s-90s! Now, if my hair could come out at gorgeous as yours, I’d be willing to try it once my hair is long again. Plus, I love your bangs!


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