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Steam Perm

My natural hair is stick straight and has the tendency to hang straight down with no body or movement, as you can see from this photo of myself at 16:


The Asian glamour photos that were so popular in the 90s.

No matter how short I cut my hair, how much layers were cut in, how much products were used, my hair refused to maintain any body and sat plastered to the sides of my face.

When I entered my 20s, I decided that a perm might be the answer. I had heard that the new perms developed by Japan and Korea were different from the frizzy, kinky puffballs of the eighties. The curls were looser, they lasted longer, and were less damaging to the hair.

I took the plunge with a “setting perm.” Soon, the “setting perm” was replaced by a newer, better method called “digital perm” which was then replaced by the “wood perm,” “smooth perm,” “cold perm” (who comes up with these names?), so on and so on.


With various types of perms. Don’t ask which is which because I honestly can’t remember.

Although the perms were a definite improvement over my stick-straight hair, I didn’t like the fact that they were high-maintenance. I usually needed to apply products, then twirl and crunch…and continue to twirl and crunch until dry, to each curl its shape.

So after years and years of searching for the perfect perm (does it even exist?), I am happy to announce that I finally found the closest contender: the steam perm.

Last month I decided to go visit the famous Jay at Hidy II in Fort Lee, NJ. Apparently, he is so good with perms that he has clients flying in from Chicago just to get their hair permed by him.

After discussing and studying my hair, he suggested that I get a steam perm. According to Jay, not only is the steam perm ideal for hair that has already been permed, it also produces the loose, wavy curls that I had been searching for all this time.

See the results for yourself:


Please excuse the noise in these pictures; the texture of my dark hair wouldn’t show well on lower ISO.


I couldn’t find a mirror big enough for a back shot, so here’s one from the side.

What you should know about my hair in these photos is that I didn’t do anything to them. I washed, patted dry with a towel, and let it air dry. THAT’S IT.

The steam perm was pretty pricey at $260, but the convenience is worth it in my opinion!