If you want to make your friends laugh, tell them you’re getting a perm. Then, after they’ve settled down, they will undoubtedly tell you that “Nobody gets perms anymore.” Well, guess what? They do. And I did. “I get a lot of fashion girls who are sick of sleek,” says Vanessa Bianchi, a master colourist at Toronto’s Queen Street Civello salon who also does perms (or, as they’re more commonly called these days, retexturizing treatments). Bianchi is about to take me back to the wild side, after eight-plus years of blowing and flatironing the bejesus out of my naturally curly hair.
Wait, what? Yes, my hair’s default setting is curly, but half-assedly so. I want more orderly, curlier curls and have tinkered with the idea of adding a styling wand to my regimen. But then I realized that spending 30 minutes a day subduing my hair with multiple styling tools is a f-cking waste of time. Imagine what the women of the world could accomplish if we put down our flatirons? Beyoncé could write an anthem about this, Sheryl Sandberg a screed. And so, I find myself in Bianchi’s chair with a headful of plastic curlers. Perm technology hasn’t changed much since my last time around the block, though today Bianchi uses two different sizes of rollers and places them randomly around my head for a more natural look. After separate hits of perm solution (still funky!) and neutralizer, the curlers come out and shit gets real. It looks rather…permy. The curls are tighter than the Sarah Jessica Parker reference photo I provided, though Bianchi assures me they’ll loosen a little after the first shampoo. And so I slink back to work, where the entire FLARE team gawks as I stand behind the glass wall of my office, like an exotic zoo animal.
Over the next few days, however, I experience Complete Hair Freedom. I’ve whittled my styling time down to five minutes per day, and I no longer need to pack my flatiron in my gym bag. But this isn’t just a matter of convenience. I love the quirkiness of my coils and the fact that they aren’t the standard-issue S-bends that have dominated the hairscape for the past gazillion years. I’m finally ready to admit that my true essential self has curls. Next up? World domination, surely, in 30-minute increments a day.