Return of the perm: The 80s classic gets a modern reboot

For many, the memory of dodgy, crispy perms is enough to put them off for life. But now some of Hollywood’s most stylish women are embracing the once maligned ‘do, and getting their perm on.

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Banish thoughts of frazzled corkscrews and poodle-head explosions, the new perm is all about tailoring to your hair goals, whether you want relaxed beach-y waves like Olivia Munn  without the hassle of tongs every morning, or something with more volume and wow-factor, a la Emma Stone. Meanwhile, American actress Jaime King shows how far the perm has come, managing to pull off the tricky art of a permed fringe with her boho style texture.

Instead of old-school rollers, modern perms use rubber ‘rods’. A good stylist will vary the size and the direction they are placed to achieve the look you’re after. And the perm 2.0 isn’t just for straight hair, it can add definition and sleekness to naturally wavy hair that’s prone to frizz. If the harsh chemicals involved put you off, know that some of the newer formulations are organic.

Jaime King (L) and Olivia Munn (R) Image: Getty Images

A slightly more high-tech version is the digital perm. Originating in Japan, electric rollers are individually connected to a special unit – it does look pretty mad once it’s all set up – which uses infra-red heat to help ‘set’ the curl. Digital perms tend to create larger, softer curls, keeping the roots of the hair straighter.

Whichever technique you use, post-perm care remains much the same: a really good quality conditioner is still a must, and you’ll want to dig out the diffuser attachment for your hairdryer. Or better yet, scrunch with some serum and leave your hair to air dry; the whole point of a perm, after all, is that you can ditch the daily heat styling and wake up with all the texture you want.

So – are you too haunted by bad hair memories, or would you dare to rock a perm again?