I’ve always wanted a perm. Always. My Mom, ever the fashionista and woman who holds the most ‘I told you so’ moments was the main reason I never got one. I assume it is due to her own experiences or perhaps of friends’ whose perms went south but I could never quite convince her to drop a few hundred dollars to get the “cool-kid” hair.

I do owe it to my mom, who single handedly saved my fate from witty, half-ass memes of junior high pictures gone bad. Or better yet, photos sent in to Ellen. Indeed Mom does know best.

Flashforward a few years and I have grown my hair from Tinkerbell pixie to Rapunzel. Or at least it feels like that, especially when I’m dusting and am trying to figure out how I still have hair on my head when it looks like most of it is on my Swiffer. Granted, it took over 4 years to grow my hair out and I am not about to cut it. But honestly, I’ve been bored. Like really, really, really bored. It’s worn either flat, in a bun, or pony tail. And when every freaking celeb cut their hair this spring/summer, I was this <–> tempted to do it. C’mon, Jennifer Lawrence, Kaley Cuoco would make any gal chop their long, luscious, locks.

JLaw's fab pixie (photo credit: Wire Image)

JLaw’s fab pixie (photo credit: Wire Image)


Am I right or what?

Determined to keep my locks, I decided I needed something different. Beachy waves seemed cool and totally doable. Besides being trendy, I figured it was one of the few styles I could pull off without looking totally FOB aka Fresh. Off. the Boat.

I ended up getting a consultation at Vain in Belltown. Unfortunately, the only good thing that came from the $20-5 minute parking fee was the stylist telling me that if I really wanted what was in the photos I brought, she couldn’t do it and I’d need a digital perm. She left me with a business card and “digital perm” scrawled in black ink. Needless to say, I was a bit devastated. I had the expectation of walking out of that chat with a time and date for my perm.

But, as luck would have it, it turned out to be great advice. I ended up googling “digital perm,” “perm for asian hair,” “best digital perm salons seattle,” and the list goes on. I learned not only is the digital perm invented by the Japanese but it was specifically created for asian hair. The process and chemicals are different and stylists can totally manage the curl a lot more than thermal perms aka traditional perms. Also, you have to be okay with looking like Medusa with all these long cords hanging from your hair.

This isn't me, but it looked like me with the machine doing it's magic. Photo Credit: http://orientalbeautysecrets.blogspot.com/2013/07/asian-hair-secret-digital-perms.html

This isn’t me, but it looked like me with the machine doing it’s magic. Photo Credit: http://orientalbeautysecrets.blogspot.com/2013/07/asian-hair-secret-digital-perms.html


After a quick 4 hours, Stella the Perm-expert, had me looking like a million bucks. Honestly, it was an amazing first perm experience.  I would totally encourage anyone who is looking for a digital perm to book with Stella at Ten Pachi in Seattle’s U-District area. I swear she’s a magician! She walked me through the difference in perms, what I would expect to happen in the different stages before she started, was friendly, professional, and definitely one of the best dressed stylists I ever saw! I secretly covet her wardrobe and her New Balance shoes. Also, Ten Pachi has 40 min follow up sessions if you need some style suggestions post-perm. How amazing is that?!

The finished perm! Photo Credit: Jackie Ostlie

The finished perm! Photo Credit: Jackie Ostlie


Here’s a few tips I’ve learned in prepping for as my colleagues called it, “the most beautiful perm I’ve ever seen in my entire life.” There may be some exaggeration thrown in there but then again, I have to agree….it’s pretty freaking rad.

  1. Do your research. Use yelp, website, and social media to find reviews and recommendations of salons in your city.
  2. Find photos of hairstyles you like and be smart about it. I have asian hair which is a lot different than caucasian hair. Needless to say the texture, thickness varies quite a bit. When you’re finding  pictures, make sure the models you’re looking at are somewhat similar to your real hair. It will make all the difference.
  3. Schedule a 15 min consultation with the person who may be doing your perm. Make sure you check them out and go with your gut. Stella put me at ease immediately by answering all my questions without making me feel stupid, providing details that the other stylist couldn’t even answer, walking me through the process, and even suggesting a better haircut that would showoff my perm. Trust your gut. Your hair and your wallet will thank you.
  4. Bring a snack and water with you to your perm. It’s 4 hours and though the process is broken up into 30-40 min chunks you’re bound to get hungry.
  5. Ask your stylist about care. This includes shampoo, conditioner, styling products, even diffusers.


Had a great or horrible perm experience? Please share!