Most of us thought that perms went the way of shoulder-pads. But decades after the 1980s, both are back. And perms (short for "permanent wave") look altogether different these days.
Even better news: the techniques used to achieve modern-day perms are far better for your hair than the harmful chemicals utilized in the '80s. They also look more natural. Spiral perms, in particular, involve a perm rod that vertically rolls the hair, resulting in a tight, well-defined corkscrew-type curl.
Check out 27 modern spiral perms—that don't look like '80s throwback pics—below.
This rounded bob uses shape to show off the tight spirals. Here, bangs are eyebrow-level and flow naturally into the layers, which go down to nearly shoulder-length in the back.
Ear-Length With Bangs
This short style is longer than a pixie, but shorter than a bob. Here, ends hit at the ears, and matching spiral-permed bangs add to the overall look.
With Straight Bangs
We love the juxtaposition of a spiral curl with a straight (albeit rounded bang). To replicate this look, ask your stylist not to perm your bangs. Instead, use a round brush to blow-dry it slightly under.
Here, layers make the look appear natural. We also love the addition of the ombré ends, which further accentuates the layers.
A blonde, shaggy spiral perm gives major bedhead vibes—in the best way possible.
Pair your perm with shaggy bangs and loose layers for '70s-chic perfection. (And of course, this copper hue is next-level cool, too.)
No, you won't get Shirley Temple ringlets from a spiral perm (unless that's what you're going for). Ask for a curly, wavy texture that's totally edgy instead.
The best way to get the bounciness your curls deserve is to—hear us out—chop off the length that could potentially be weighing them down. This short, lightweight bob is just the ticket to curls that look alive.
Keep the Length
Spiral perms work with any hair length, as long as you have enough hair to work with (AKA, wrap onto perm rods). These waist-length spirals prove a perm looks fresh on ultra-long hair, too.
Make a major statement with blunt curly bangs to complement long, luscious permed locks.
After getting a perm, you may notice styling suddenly becomes a breeze. We love this simple, effortless look, adorned with just a barrette.
You can't go wrong with piecey, tousled waves—and you'd never guess these ones are the work of an on-point spiral perm.
Short & Blunt
Short, blunt bobs always make a statement—you can find our faves here—but the spiral perm on this 'do makes it extra special and striking.
Lots of Layers
How cute is this layered perm? With face-framing pieces and curls throughout, this is the kind of hairstyle that'll have you permanently (get it?) in a good mood.
Get the tousled beach-wave vibe with a relaxed spiral perm. How soft, touchable, and pretty are these waves?
To maintain your spiral perm, wait to wash it until a full 48 hours after your service. Avoid using hair dye, say "no" to styling with heat, and try to keep the hair extra-moisturized with hair masks and leave-in conditioner as often as possible.
No, this isn't exactly the "scrunched" look you wore in middle school—but this is the cooler, grown-up version, with face-framing curls.
Long & Luxe
Embrace the larger-than-life volume a spiral perm gives you by letting your curls run wild. We love this long, loose, and luxurious-looking 'do.
Again, a spiral perm doesn't have to look reminiscent of decades past. Here, the curls are natural-looking, touchable, and modern.
No, permed curls don't have to be crunchy—see how totally soft, silky, and touchable this spiral perm turned out.
A shag is the ultimate cool-girl cut as far as we're concerned—and this curly iteration is no different. With lots of layers and face-framing tendrils, this bouncy bob was brought to life by a spiral perm.
BRB—we're suddenly feeling edgy, artistic, and bold. This spiral perm style combines blunt bangs with a brushed-out texture and it's giving us major hair envy.
Rather than tight, the curls on this spiral-perm 'do are loose, soft, and tousled. (With this style, you can trick people into thinking you did your hair every morning when you really just let it air dry.)
Long & Lush
The front tendril here makes this 'do—but generally speaking, these long, lush curls feel ultra-romantic.
Lightweight & Fresh
A fresh, lightweight bob with a wavy texture and face-framing bangs? Say no more.
You can't go wrong with bouncy spirals and soft texture. For this look, the bangs are just slightly asymmetric, rather than blunt.
While some spiral perms veer into beach wave territory, this look is as tightly coiled as it gets. Here, layers frame the face and the whole look is topped off with a newsboy cap.
Barreto TM, Weffort F, Frattini SC, Martins Pinto G, Dos Santos Damasco P, Melo DF. Permanent hair wavings: what dermatologists should know?. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2021;20(4):1204-1207. doi:10.1111/jocd.13687