Spiral vs. normal perm styles
Learn the difference between Spiral permanent waves and normal (regular) perms, as well as what to look for in hair maintenance products.
Photo Credit: Olaru Radian-Alexandru
By Lisa Laprade
If your hair is straight, dull and lifeless, you might be one of the millions of Americans every year who get a permanent wave. The differences between perms can be as different as the colors of hair dyes. Be sure to check with your stylist to determine which is best for you and your type of hair.
Spiral perms really started to take shape in the late 1980’s, when big hair was really big and you needed all of the help possible to lift your hair to the max. This perm consists of the same basic types of permanent hair solutions, but the way the hair is rolled is completely different. While a traditional perm uses small, concave rollers to roll your hair horizontally under, a spiral perm utilizes long, slender rollers with parallel sides. Your hair is twisted from the ends upward to your scalp in a corkscrew fashion so that the rollers are placed vertically against your head.
Regular perms can give you different variations of curls, depending on the size rollers used and the solutions used in your hair. From tight, kinky curls to light, romantic waves, the options are all up to you. If you decide to get a tight wave in your hair, take comfort that you can blow-dry is somewhat straight if you choose to do so. You won’t be limited to just curly styles, and your hair will appear thicker, fuller and full of body when you decide to blow-dry it straight. Diffusers are placed on the end of hairdryers to blow-dry your hair without straightening any of the curls, so don’t feel that you need to leave home with wet hair every day to keep a curly style.
Spiral perms have the same types of options, using different sized rollers for tighter curls. But if you want the full effect of a spiral perm, your hair should be somewhat long, at least a bit past your shoulders. Banana curls are formed by each roller, releasing a long, corkscrew shape in each separated section of hair when each roller is taken out. This shape can be utilized for long waves when blow-dried a bit, or add some hair gel and scrunch your hair into tiny ringlets. It’s completely up to you.
One key note to consider is that spiral perms can cost up to twice as much as a standard permanent. One reason for the price increase is that it takes much longer to wrap your hair with the spiral rollers than traditional perm rollers. Another reason is that spiral perms are usually done on longer hair, so more physical work and products are needed to create this hairstyle. Spiral perms also tend to last a few months longer than standard perms.
No matter which type of perm that you get, it is imperative that you take extra precautions when purchasing hair care products. A perm will dry out your hair, so it is imperative that your hair care products of choice do not contain alcohol. Be sure to check the ingredients on the back of the container, even if the container claims to be for permed hair. Alcohol can do more damage to your hair than perming, blow-drying and curling irons combined.
If your hair is already dried out, or you currently color your hair, be sure to talk to your stylist before getting a perm. A good stylist will not perm your hair if it isn’t in the proper condition, as their reputation is at stake.
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