To Curl or be Curled : The Temporary Solution to the Permanent Wave

(Photo at Creative Commons www.flickr.com/photos/someonesomewhereslife/)
(Photo at Creative Commons www.flickr.com/photos/someonesomewhereslife/)

To Curl or be Curled : The Temporary Solution to the Permanent Wave

I thought the perm was going to make a comeback.

I remember someone saying that on TV a couple of years back so I thought it must be true.

In fact they said that the big hair of the 1980s was going to be in vogue again.

I've decided anyway that I want a perm.

I've got my hair long again and I want to get it a bit curly. Not a poodle perm of course.

No, that would be too much and I would look a complete idiot instead of just a half-wit with long hair.

(photo by Ella Mullins at Flickr)
(photo by Ella Mullins at Flickr)
(photo by Nature Snooper at Flickr)
(photo by Nature Snooper at Flickr)

I'm thinking of one of those soft-perm jobs, you know those loose ones.

Definitely 80's style but more your 'Bon Jovi' type of tousled mane evocative of the 'Slippery When Wet' era.

You get the picture don't you? Maybe even a Robert Plant with goatee chin attachment or a real Def Leppard stadium rocker of a perm.

I've done my research, I even know that the modern version began in 1872 by a man called Marcel Grateau using heated tongs and lots of patience.

Then I found out that the process used ammonia, "What!" I thought, "No way am I stinking of pee!". No it's not worth that. But I hear they've made wonderful olfactory advances since then.

The crazee 70's

I've always like my hair long you see as I'm a heavy rocker at heart ever since I first heard Slade singing 'Mama Weer All Crazee Now' in those glory, glory days of the early 1970s.

Everybody had long hair then, not only Rock stars but Pop stars, TV presenters and football players, maybe even some Cabinet Ministers even after the age of the Hippie era was over.

Not me though, I had no choice as my dad marched me down to the local barbers shops for a scalp. "Short back and sides" he'd say to the sheep shearer and sit back approvingly as my hairy barnet got chopped.

I was only eight or nine so I didn't have much choice in the matter. No democracy for little kids, too young to vote anyway, just the autocratic buzz-cut up the back of the neck and around the ears and don't argue.

We'd walk out into the street past teenagers with long flowing hair, some even with sideburns, "Look at that!" my Dad would say "He'll go bald one day with that". That was a shock to the system, "Really?" I thought "What? Long hair can make you go bald" I didn't think that could be right, I was sure he was just using scare tactics to stop me growing it when I get older.

(photo by Flra at Flickr)
(photo by Flra at Flickr)

A new wave

And when I got older the hair got longer as I embraced the full force of the 'New Wave of British Heavy Metal' or any other ear-grinding music that was blasting the airwaves in the early 80's.

Since then I've had my hair long most of the time with occasional diversions into respectability when I've had it all chopped off.

I've usually regretted it though and grown it back, after she's dumped me of course, relationships make you do some strange things.

I would say to my friends "You know, I really fancy getting myself a perm" and they would look at me in not-so-mock astonishment. "What for?" they'd say "You've got a fair bit of curl in there already".

Yes, but a fair bit of curl wasn't enough, I wanted a whole lotta curl. Especially when the hair gets really long and pulls down at the middle-parting making the top half of my hair fall lank and straight.

Now I'm older in my 40's that makes you look kind of older and gloomier as your cheeks and eyes begin to sag a little. You look even more crestfallen than you normally would, like a sad throwback to the Woodstock days of Volkswagens and bell-bottomed trousers. A bit like Ozzy Osbourne before he got the facelift.

I can't blame him of course because the hair definitely doesn't help matters. I can't afford a little nip and tuck and to be honest I would have absolutely no intention of going under the knife anyway. I couldn't afford plastic surgery, I can't even afford botox.

What am I saying? I can't even afford a decent perm at the moment! I just want some curly locks to bring about a bit of zest and vivacity to my old middle-age face. I'll need to save some cash for the big day.

Open up the polypeptides

Throughout my many years of vacillation and cowardice I've mentioned it tentatively to the odd hairdresser sometimes.

Jjust to make conversation and sound out the professional opinion.

"What for?" they'd say "You've got plenty of curl in there already".

It's no wonder then that I've never taken the plunge and went for it. So much discouragement from all quarters, there's a conspiracy out there in the mass consciousness to put me off ever trying.

One of my friends even said "You know, long hair pulls at your roots and increases your chances of going bald" I don't believe it! Did she know my dad? Or is he speaking to her from beyond the grave?

Of course, there's always the home-perm option. I once saw a guy on TV showing how to do it by tying his wet hair in knots with tissue paper. That kind of put me off I suppose as I just imagined that as soon as I'd got the last piece of Kleenex in place, the doorbell would ring.

Or worse the house would go on fire and I would have to evacuate the homestead and stand outside in front of friends, neighbours and complete strangers looking like a drag version of Cindy Lauper in a bath towel.

But when I found out about the salon process I wasn't so sure that the home-kit wasn't such a bad idea, if you'll forgive the double negative. Apparently the chemicals they use open up the disulfide linkages between the polypeptide bonds in the keratin in your hair. I'd rather not know that!

Maybe I should have remained in blind ignorance and just took the plunge oblivious to what I was going to go through. I don't want to be an unwilling subject in a scientific experiment with high pH values, alkali this, ammonia that and glycerol monothioglycolate whatever. And what about my polypeptides?

(photo by looklanekookla at Flickr)
(photo by looklanekookla at Flickr)

Mirror, mirror on the wall

I know I would suit a loose perm, I know I would, I'm pretty sure I would.

I mean I think it would work, probably.

You know that way when you've just dried your hair with a towel after stepping out of the shower?

How curly it looks when it's wet.

That's the way I want it. I would adopt several poses in the bathroom mirror, left-profile, right-profile, grab a hand-mirror and check out the back, rinse the hair when it started to dry and rub the towel through it again.

Why can't it just stay like that because that's the way I want it.

And I think it looks cool, I think I suit it, I think I would suit a perm.

No one else around, no dissenting voices or self-styled critics, just me, and I'm right, I should get a perm.

I just wish I hadn't known that they use acid on your follicles, that sounds painful and it shouldn't come into contact with the scalp. I've got sensitive skin, what will happen? My skin could fall off, I could have a fantastic curly perm and it's lying on the floor like an abandoned house-pet, and then the house would go on fire.

But in the meantime I going to try out the homemade job, not the Cindy Lauper conversion, I don't think I want to go down that route. One of my lady friends suggested something called 'bed head manipulator' as a possibility. "What's that?" I asked, "Some sort of mechanical sex-toy?" because that's what it sounded like to my uneducated ears.

But she explained it's a hair gel that gives you that curly look temporarily, just for the evening if you want something different. To demonstrate she tried out some 'Shockwave' with another 'Vosene' hairgel and after it dried in I thought it looked quite cool.

Much posing in front of the living room mirror followed the application as I was quite taken by the look. So I've investigated that and some other products that I might want to try out. It would be a nice compromise and a trial run to test drive it out on the road.

I'd also heard that you can buy a 'Toni Silkwave', an ‘Ogilvie Home Foam Perm’, a ‘Quantum Classic’, an ‘Apple Pectin Plus’, or a ‘One n’ Only Exothermic’, or even a ‘Roux Great Feeling Buffered Alkaline’. I don't know, the possibilities are endless and the science baffles me. Whatever works, I'll try the lot, I'm game for a laugh.

And if it works out then I'll take the plunge and get that Bon Jovi haircut down at the hairdressers. I don't care what anyone else thinks, I'll do it, I really will. At least I think I will. I mean I'm not sure but I think I might. Yes!, I might just do it this time.

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Comments 3 comments

Nat Amaral profile image

Nat Amaral 5 years ago from BC Canada

All I can tell you is good luck. I'm sure you'll look great.


Shinkicker profile image

Shinkicker 6 years ago from Scotland Author

Thanks for the encouragement kalinin

Your are truly a voice in the wilderness.

I'm going to do it, I mean it , I really will you know :-)


kalinin1158 profile image

kalinin1158 6 years ago from California

To perm or not to perm - that is the question... I can sympathize DEEPLY as I periodically encounter an uncontrollable urge to turn my hair into a curly explosion. Here are the 2 reasons why I don't do it: 1. I don't want a hair style that is completely unnatural to my hair structure (my hair is almost straight); 2. urge to perm isn't about hair, it's about a need for a change (so why not make a real change instead of substituting it with a perm). Since you have a natural curl, I say: go for it, it'll give your hair a lot of volume, unless...see #2 :-) P.S. You have very very nice hair, by the way

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