1980's perm trend making new waves in Natural State

Perms were all the rage in the 1980's but started disappearing in the 1990's and early 2000's. But now, they're making a comeback in a new way.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - For some of us, pictures of our youth and teenage years will haunt us for life.

A lot of people remember having that big, bold, super curly hair made famous in the 80s. We're talking about those infamous curly perms.

Many have said they will never come back in style, but as the old saying goes, sooner or later, everything old is new again. THV11 spoke with hairdressers in Little Rock who said the curly perm is back again.

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Since it phased out in the mid-1990’s, the big curly perm has been a style that's kind of the unspoken taboo for many salons. Lynne Eastep, the owner of Preston’s Salon in Sherwood, said back in 1984, when she started doing hair she would do five to six perms a day. But for the last two decades, in the hairdressing world, no one has talked about the perm very much. She said it’s because so many people think it automatically means they’ll look like a poodle or an “old lady.”

“We don't even say the word perm anymore because it automatically scares somebody, so we just take the perm out of the equation and that word is out of our vocabulary,” she said.

While the term perm has been taboo, she said the return of the perm as a popular style is something the hair industry has been forecasting for years.

“In the mid to late 1990’s and early 2000’s the perm started disappearing and men weren't getting perms anymore, mullets were getting cut off, and then women started getting straight hair,” said Eastep. “But for the past 5 to 6 years, every hair show would say perms are coming back in and it’s going to be different.”

Eastep said she kept waiting and waiting to see if the perm was going to come back and over the last year or so, it finally has. Now, she is starting to see more people asking for a perm again, in a new way.

“It’s different now with softer, romantic curls,” said Eastep. “It's a lot prettier now and I like it better.”

Eastep said the biggest change with the perm is the curlers used. Back in the 1980’s, when clients wanted to get the really tight curls, stylists would use a thin, plastic curler. Now, to get the wavy, beach wave look, they use a block sponge. Stylist Scout Weinman said women ages 19-40 have been coming into the salon asking for these reimagined loose wavy perms. She said more often than usual, she has people requesting beachy wave perms as a service.

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“It’s been growing more popular these last few years,” she said. Part of the reason it is making a comeback is because of social media. Weinman said she sees tons of perm posts on Instagram and Facebook. “Everyone is posting and hashtagging so it’s very easy to find styles,” she said. She hopes the trend will stick around. “It's a way to maintain volume and style without having to try too hard and I think that's something we all enjoy is getting a few more minutes of sleep in the morning,” said Weinman.

As for Eastep, she thinks the old super curly perm might also make a comeback before too long. “They say that everything comes back in a circle so we'll see,” she said. Eastep also mentioned that these looser wavy perms are healthier on the hair than the old school perms. They can last 6-8 weeks and range in price from $60-$120 dollars. The stylists also said they do perms for straight hair but they aren't as common.