I have been tempted to get a digital perm for years, but conflicting stories kept me from taking the leap. After much research, I finally went for it while I was in LA a few days ago. I heard Korean salons do it best; after my fabulous stove-iron experience at Hair World last week, I decided to head back.* (Well, not before I harassed the poor lady at the front desk for a couple of days – I kept calling morning, noon, and night with questions before going for it.)
Why is it called a digital perm? The actual name is trademarked by a Japanese company, and the process isn’t quite as futuristic as it sounds. Instead of a traditional cold perm (which just uses perm solution), rods are heated thermally and it’s the warmth that reconditions your hair.
Hair World’s owner, Min, uses an organic perming solution on digitally heated rods, which did not smell at all (my last perm was in 1993 and you don’t want to know how that turned out!). The process took two hours, and when I looked in the mirror my hair was tousled full of messy waves and loose curls, like Gisele Bündchen! You won’t get the noticeably bouncy curls you do from a curling iron, but a sexily undone look is edgier and cooler. The ends of my hair are a bit dry, but it’s no worse than after using a curling iron a couple times a week.
A digital perm makes your hair wavy when it’s dry, which is why when it comes to styling, Min recommends air-drying or using cold air to blow dry. I waited 48 hours before shampooing; my hair was lovely and curly when wet, and dried right back to full waves. Adding product to sculpt a few curls also works.
It looks like my research paid off! I’m thrilled with my flirty waves, and I highly recommend it for anyone who is after that tousled, messy, almost beachy look. This isn’t for achieving impeccably coifed curls – and that’s what I like about it!
*Another friend recommends Mystylist on Wilshire and Western. Look into the right salon in your neighborhood before committing to a digital perm – the salon is all-important!