What do these men have in common? Alluding to the fact that they are blessed with swanky good looks, they all have a full head of cascading locks, soft and voluminous.
The man perm has gain traction locally in recent years and we certainly could understand why. Having it styled permanently cuts down the time to get ready drastically. Owners of a pin-straight mane can definitely relate to the struggles of heat-styling and barrel-brushing coarse Asian hair. The option of getting a perm hence is an efficient choice for time-strapped men.
Perm is short for “permanent wave” uses heat and/or chemicals to break and reform 20% of disulphide linkages in the hair keratin filament. This linkages are responsible for the elasticity of the hair shaft and thus could be manipulated into various configurations or tightness of curls.
The perms of today are vastly different from the 80s. While the season of big hair and tight Jheri curls are way behind us, the modern perm is all about selectively framing the face with light and airy curls while trying to hide your deepest darkest secrets—big foreheads, receding hairlines and your widow's peak.
We checked in with Gary Chew, Director and Co-founder of Salon Vim to find out more about the commonly asked questions on perming, and share some aftercare and styling tips for the ones who are looking to get a fresh new mop this coming new year.
ESQ: Any reasons as to why there has been a rise in the men getting perms?
GARY CHEW: One of the leading influences would definitely be Asia’s pursuit of beauty which even men are not spared from. The media of today places a huge emphasis on celebrities and beauty, resulting in the surge of men who are more open to exploring and experimenting with their own looks.
Masculinity is constantly redefined, as men too have learned to dress up and be more comfortable in their skin. A simple perm can help guys look more put together while adding an edge and style to their look.
ESQ: There are a plethora of different perms available on the market, ranging from digital to cold. Could you dissect these terminologies for our readers who might be confused as to what to choose from?
GARY CHEW: Cold perm and digital perm employ the same mechanics. Cold perms are similar to setting a curl, acting as a temporary hair texturising solution. Hot perms, on the other hand, provide better shine and volume with hot rollers that allow hairstylists more control in modifying the hair structure, which gives a defined and long lasting look.
At our salon, we have an alternative known as the 'warm' perm which gives the hair technicians the flexibility of controlling hair texture without compromising the hair's integrity—best of both worlds considering that cold perms are generally less structured and looser in their hold while hot perms can be quite damaging.
Like any other hair treatments, it is always better to seek professional advice from your stylists, especially if you have a particular look in mind.
ESQ: The perm has always been associated with tight and over-the-top “maggi mee”-esque curls that you see in 90s Hong Kong movies. How does the modern perm of today set itself apart from 20 years ago?
GARY CHEW: In the old days, having a voluminous head of hair was desired by people then. By creating thicker, tighter and fuller curls, perms created the illusion of having more volume. Perms nowadays create a light and airy look while still looking voluminous, without all the heavy weight of sporting thick curls like the past.
Comparatively, the perms previously had a fixated shape and the looks were more homogenous. Men can now enjoy having the illusion of voluminous hair with different kind of perms, styled with different hair shaping techniques, for a modern and stylish look. The modern perm now is much more wearable, versatile and easier to manage, which gives more room for men to explore looks that are catered to their lifestyle and preference.
ESQ: As someone who has a perm himself, I’m noticing a lot more breakage than usual. What are some of the ways to care for your new curls? How do you extend the life of your perm?
GARY CHEW: The main cause of breakages usually come from the hair routine. Brushing tangled hair will cause breakage so it is always good to run through with a soft comb while conditioning your hair using the paddle brush.
This process involves using a paddle brush during the shower, to brush your hair while applying conditioning treatment after shampoo. This will reduce breakage, as the hair is less porous when it is coated with the conditioner. Wet hair is susceptible to damage when it is swollen with water. Thus using a soft comb like the paddle brush while combing hair, helps to remove tangles and reduce hair breakage.
To extend the lifespan of the perm, it’s important to use hair oils to keep your locks moisturised. Go for regular treatments (for instance, our Wonder Jelly and Wonder Smooth treatments) and use a heat protectant if you are planning on heat styling.
ESQ: Can you color and perm at the same time?
GARY CHEW: Yes, it is possible to perm colour-treated hair, but again, it's highly dependent on the person’s hair condition.
ESQ: Is the perm suitable for all face shapes? Who do you think are great candidates for perms?
GARY CHEW: Anyone with a perm can look presentable and tidy if it's styled properly. Even our in-house signatures like Mi Magic Straight is considered a ‘perm’ service as well. It essentially straightens hair texture, but it is tailored to the person’s style and preference and can be made to become either more sleek or airy.
A perm can create airy, tousled wavy textures that can be tailored to the customers desired look. Our trained stylist will be able to create the ideal perm to suit customer’s face shape and preference based on consultation.
ESQ: How do you style a perm?
GARY CHEW: A good styling product would be the Kerastase Crème Oleo-Curl, a hair definition cream that controls curls. It works as a good heat protectant/pre-styler that helps to lock in the curls and smooth frizziness too.
ESQ: What are some of the up-and-coming hair trends as we head into 2019?
GARY CHEW: As observed during Fashion Week, textured French crops paired with blunt fringe are gaining traction. Extremely short haircuts like the buzzcuts are also desirable while the fashion-savvy are rocking the ‘wet hair’ trend.