Making Waves: Do the Twist

The resurgence of curly-girl love has brought the perm, of all things, out of the 1980s and into Indy salons for those whose hair falls too flat for their liking.
Illustration by Chloe Zola

WE THOUGHT perms for straight, finely textured hair had gone the way of shoulder pads. But both are back. And the perms, if not the pads, look better (read: more natural) today.

Certified Arrojo American Wave stylist Jesslyn Wallace of Cass & Company Salon in Avon sheds light on the modern nuances of this trend. “What we’re using today is way more gentle and healthy,” she explains. Stylists are using larger rods and less damaging products, making the process much easier on your locks.

After decades of curly-headed folks feeling pushed to style their hair straight, embracing one’s natural hair has (finally, thankfully!) become cool. And that movement has morphed into a perm comeback. Wallace notes that 2024 perms aren’t just for straight hair, either. They can bring edgy, modern texture to a range of hair types.

Bonus: The look is relatively low-maintenance, says Wallace. It’s just a matter of scrunching in mousse—another item from the leg warmer era we thought we’d never see again. (Her favorite is Ref Fiber Mousse.) And if you’re blow-drying, use a diffuser, she urges. That’s it. Ready to enter the new era of perms? Chat with your stylist about which of these options will land the look you want.


The American Wave: The highest-priced but gentlest option, intended for colored or heavily processed hair

  • Volumized curls: Classic
  • Beachy waves: Vertical drag wrap
  • Bouncy bangs: Expansion wave

A traditional perm: The less-expensive route for unprocessed hair

  • Volume and loose twists: Body wave
  • Medium-tight curlicues: Standard wrap
  • Well-defined corkscrews: Spiral perm