The other day, I was at my hairdresser when I was hit with a wave of nostalgia. I saw a home permanent kit and was immediately transported back to my childhood days when my sister and I sported matching curls. I’m sure many of you remember spending hours at the mercy of your mother’s Toni home permanent kit. Almost more memorable is the distinct smell that seemed to follow you for days!
Hair perms were not always such a smelly affair. They were a trend that began in the late 1800s with the invention of crimping tongs. Really, who thinks of these things? A German, named Charles Nestle, improved on the crimping tongs by developing heated rollers, which he combined with a chemical hair treatment. In 1909, he patented the first permanent wave machine.
Of course, cold wave perms became popular in the 1930s. These perms didn’t use machines or heat and were safer than the high heat required with Nestle’s methods. The cold wave perms gave way to the acid perms and stinky chemicals of the 1970s. Different styles and makes of these machines have made their way across the world and into many of our lives. The methods of achieving perfect curls have changed dramatically over the years, but anytime I see (or smell!) permanent lotion or chemicals, I’m reminded of hours spent primping and laughing with my mother and sister.
Did you ever have a memorable perm experience?