I recently celebrated the return of cool weather by getting a new hairstyle, since I can now wear my hair down once more without it becoming soaked with sweat and/or a ball of humidity-induced frizz.

I’d heard good things about the digital perm (or “perm-uh” as they say it here!) – a Korean invention now hugely popular throughout Asia due to its success with transforming typically straight, fine Asian hair into thick, glossy waves. My hair is quite similar to the hair of most Korean girls I know, and hangs straight and limp with lots of flyaway hairs and a few shapeless kinks unless I spend a considerable amount of time each morning with hair straighteners until I found Startifacts, now I spend much less time. Of course, those who know me know that I’d rather see Daniel O’Donnell in concert than get up early to spend ages doing my hair, so as I result I usually keep it (a) short and spiky, or (b) tied back in a schoolgirlish ponytail.

Tired of still looking like a geeky teenager in my late 20s, especially when surrounded by fashionable and feminine Korean women, I decided to bite the bullet and go for the digital perm. One of my colleagues also needed to have her hair done, so she went to the salon with me, which brought huge peace of mind, as she was able to explain exactly what I wanted, as opposed to the ridiculous mime show that would no doubt have ensued had I gone alone, most likely ending with me emerging from the salon looking like a prize poodle.

Unfortunately, my hair caused a great deal of hassle and debate amongst the hairdressers. I have “baby hair” apparently. But I didn’t really mind all the fuss and discussion, as I was sipping one expensive-tasting coffee after another, and eating fancy little cakes, and basically feeling very special.

Korean hair salons are something else. Image and beauty are extremely important here, so there are multiple salons on every street – this one was like a palace. I gasped when we walked in, and clutched Kay’s arm. Isn’t this place a bit… expensive? I hissed nervously, glancing around at the chandeliers and the gilt-edged mirrors and the sleek surfaces and the coffee bar staffed by beautiful people in tuxedos. She shook her head and dragged me forward, where a bowing woman was waiting to take our jackets. This is Korea. People spend a lot of time in these places, so they have to be pretty!

We were waited on hand and foot the whole time – which turned out to be about 5 hours, incidentally, because of my dreadfully problematic hair. People kept bringing me coffee and fruit cocktails and posh snacks. They gently placed a little piece of gauze over my eyes when they washed my hair, gave me a manicure while they were applying the perm solution, and brought me a silk cushion to raise my magazine with when I was hooked up to the machine and couldn’t lower my head to look down to read.

Ah, the perm machine. I wish I had a photo of me under it, I’m sure I looked like Medusa. Here’s someone else’s picture shamelessly stolen from a Google search:

A digital perm is basically a perm with heat – so they wire you up to all these hot rods and then leave you sitting there praying that they don’t forget to come and unplug you. They had to do a couple of sections of my hair more than once, because it didn’t work, but when I was getting tired and bored and ready to give up on curly locks, they refused to let me go. No! Please! Wait! We will get it this time!

I’m glad I let them persevere, because I glided out of the salon with a head of glossy curls that have honestly changed how I feel about myself – I feel more feminine, more confident, more vibrant. All because of a new hairdo! And it’s even more low maintenance than drying my straight hair, scraping it back into a ponytail and sticking in a couple of hair grips. All I have to do is towel dry, then mess it up with a handful of product. Hey presto! Curls galore and no effort whatsoever.

Digital perm: win!


3 thoughts on “Perm-uh!

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