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Ryann Got A Perm (!!) Wanna See The 2022 Version?? Let’s Just Say She May Never Go Back

Here’s the thing I know will be true. Some of you with naturally curly hair will want to shake me and scream why would you want to change your perfectly straight hair?? Those with straight hair will be super intrigued and eager to see how this turns out. We all want we can’t have. When I showed family my new perm my aunt with gorgeous naturally curly hair was like, “It looks good! But I want straight hair!” It’s just the way it goes.

All of us straight-haired gals dream about curly hair at one time or another. Because I have always had straight hair, I have always envied people with bouncy, exciting curls. I am talking Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City or Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman vibes. So a couple of years ago when I heard perms are back, I immediately hopped on board. My mom grew up in the eighties so I have heard perm horror stories but I wouldn’t let that deter me. But then a pandemic happened and lots of things became more pressing than getting a perm. But as fate would have it, a few months ago the opportunity to get a perm landed in my lap. Just as all hero journeys go, the stars aligned and I was chosen for the quest.

This is me and my naturally straight hair. And I love my hair, I really do. I am very lucky to have healthy, thick, long hair, but the look you see here is the one thing my hair does. What I mean is, I am not capable of any type of hairstyling so hair down is the only hair “look” I have in my arsenal. I was beyond ready to switch it up and try something very new.

Enter Curl Cult founded by Emily’s friend and hairstylist Janine. Janine spent four years in Italy creating this new perm technology so I felt extremely safe and comfortable in her hands. I am famously super trusting with hairstylists so I was ready for her to give me the most intense, voluminous curls possible. You know what they say. When in Rome.

Emily was pretty nervous for me and volunteered to be my mom/hair advocate. But I am fairly gutsy when it comes to my hair. I have chopped off all my hair multiple times including getting a pixie cut when I was 16. I guess I have never had a haircut bad enough to make me fearful. *KNOCKS ON WOOD*

I think the above photo depicts Emily, a curly-haired gal explaining to me, a straight-haired gal, that I will have CURLS by the end of this. HA. I think we both would like to swap hair (hence Emily’s blowout and my eagerness to get a perm) so she was trying her best to prep me for curly hair life. Her biggest fear was that I wouldn’t like it. My biggest fear was that my hair would be a few inches shorter. But other than that I was ready and excited.

I showed Janine the level of curl I wanted, while Emily held all the nerves for me. I knew I wanted a layered, voluminous look and was willing to go extremely curly. I really wanted a brand new look, so the curlier the better.


First, Lauren gave me a trim and layered my hair so the curls wouldn’t be too uniform. If I wasn’t getting married this year, I would have done a full 70s shag perm with bangs. But I had to keep it tame for the wedding, and getting bangs is always a risk.

This is the last photo of me with straight hair. Now the party’s about to begin.

Once my hair was washed and conditioned, Janine got to work rolling individual, approximately 1 inch sized strands of my hair. I am no mathematician but I think she had to put in around 100 rolls in my hair. This process probably took the longest and by the time this step was complete, it felt like my head weighed an extra 15 pounds from all the rollers.

The next step is putting a liberal amount of perm solution on each strand. If you ever have gotten a perm, you might remember the smell. It’s not pleasant and the sulfur stink would linger in your hair for days. I didn’t know this but luckily I didn’t have to experience it. Janine spent 4 years working with a chemist in Italy to remove the stinky smells of perms. Her perm reduced the caustic odor adding a fresh berry scent and it WORKED. So this isn’t a smelly American perm, it’s a refined berry-infused ~Italian perm~

Once the solution was applied, I sat in a chair under a heat lamp and waited for about 30 minutes.

Once the perm goddesses (Janine and Lauren) declared the solution was set, they applied a neutralizer. This is another way Janine eliminated steps in the perm process. Their neutralizer is applied over their perm solution, so there is no more messy rinsing and blotting at the bowl. Seriously, Janine’s process is magic.

Once the rollers were removed we rinsed and conditioned my hair once more. You know the famous Legally Blonde quote?

“Isn’t it the first cardinal rule of perm maintenance that you are forbidden to wet your hair for at least 24 hours after getting a perm at the risk of deactivating the ammonium thioglycolate” Well more accurately, you are forbidden to shampoo your hair for 48 hours. If you do, it will reverse the perm so if you have full regret, it’s an option. But luckily that was not my experience at all.

The next step feels the longest because you just want to see what the result is. But you must wait for it to air dry so the curls can fully activate. My hair is very thick so this took about an hour (with the help of a heat lamp). As I was letting it air dry I could see the curls were forming and becoming more alive by the minute as I was anxiously awaiting the final reveal.

SHE HAS CURLS. Honestly, we were all shocked at how good it looked. You really never know what a hairstyle change will do to your face and your whole look but luckily I was immediately in love. I think I said “I feel like Julia Roberts ala Pretty Woman” far too many times.

You can almost tell through photos how soft and touchable this perm is. Perms back in the day were crunchy but this perm feels and looks natural. People have assumed that I’ve always had curly hair and that I am just now starting to wear it naturally. *flips hair* No big deal.

The texture is so gorgeous and soft. I couldn’t stop flipping my hair back and forth – it was so fun. That day was windy so you can really see the frizz but as someone with straight hair, I found the big frizzy hair extremely charming. You can come for me in the comments if you want, but I feel powerful having voluminous hair that can not be tamed.

So this concludes my hero’s journey. It was the best experience and I would 100% do it all over again. Next time, I might even go shoulder-length and even curlier. I am all in.

If you want this perm (and you should) I have great news. You do not need to be based in LA to get it. Your stylist can be Curl Cult Certified and join the movement in just 45 minutes. Just have them start here. You can also find a Curl Cult Certified stylist near you here.

And there’s us – just 3 curly-haired gals out on the town! Thank you, thank you, thank you, Janine for giving me the curls I have always wanted. It’s so fun being a curly-haired gal and I think everyone should try it. Here is a video of the whole process if you are interested (just wait for the add to play):

And in case you are curious, here is what it looks like now, one month after the perm:

This is another difference between the Curl Cult perm and the perms of the past. The grow-out process is much easier because the perm softens over time. My perm has already softened so I get effortless, beach curls with no heat or styling tools. I just use the Curl Cult Shampoo and Conditioner, Magic Spell (this stuff is bottled GOLD), and Curl Cream and let it air dry (you can get the whole kit here). I am famously very lazy with my hair so it’s incredible I get this look with the tiniest bit of effort.

Again, THANK YOU JANINE. I could not have enjoyed this experience or the results more. If you have any questions, fire them down below. xx

*Photos by Sara Ligorria-Tramp


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57 thoughts on “Ryann Got A Perm (!!) Wanna See The 2022 Version?? Let’s Just Say She May Never Go Back

  1. YOU LOOK AMAZING!!!!! those curls are incredible. You are beautiful whatever you do with your hair, and the curls just highlight that. They do sure highlight it though, how GOOD

    1. I fully agree with all this! I tried a perm once in 1998 and it was a “big mistake! Huge!” to quote Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. But this is making me want to try again. The map didn’t show any Curl Cult certified salons in Canada the of though.

  2. Your. Hair. Is. GORGEOUS!
    Ok, first of all, you have such amazingly beautiful natural hair to begin with (and I’m going to go cry into a pillow after writing this because that’s how my hair was a couple decades ago before stupid genetics and thinning came into play).
    So, it’s gorgeous straight, but MAN! It is just soooooo good with the curls! I love this look. Yes, it’s very pretty woman, which is goddess hair. Also, have you seen Lana del Rey’s hair in the Ride music video? That’s my dream dream dream hair! It’s pretty much just a much darker version of the Julia Roberts/Pretty Woman hair.
    Congratulations on your hair!

    1. After cgemo, twice in two years, my very thick straight gai5r became thin and ringlet-curly.
      I tried, rather randomly, SWISSE HAIR, SKIN & NAILS because it has the highest non-prescription level of Biotin in it OTC.
      It actually works!!! Yesss!!! My hair grew back much faster than anyone predicted (um, I lost all body hair, but luckily only thinned my head hair!🤣🤣)
      #itworks!! 🤗
      Try it Lovely!

  3. I love it so much and what do you know? There’s a Curl Cult stylist less than a mile from my house!
    You look amazing!

  4. Ryann – Your hair looks fantastic curly. My only experience with perms is that scene from Legally Blonde, so I didn’t know what to expect, but it’s great. Really suits you.

  5. Love it!!! So gorgeous. And fun.
    And I just have to say that I’m a fan of the side part and you showing a bit more of your face and not having it hidden by hair!

    1. I am curious to know the cost too. Also, I’d like to know how long did it take from start to finish (without the time hair was trimmed). And, how often is it necessary to repeat to keep it looking good.

      1. Timing is highly individual and depends a lot on how long it takes to get the rollers in and how long it takes for your hair to dry afterwards. I think the last time I got a perm (mid ’90s) it took the guy over two hours to wrap my hair because I have a lot of very fine hair.

  6. Ryann – your hair looks fabulous and so natural!!

    Emily – could you share the source for your cute denim shorts? 🙂

  7. Both you and your hair look gorgeous! I know we always want the hair we don’t have but this reminded me to celebrate my wavy/curly/frizzy natural texture even though it drives me crazy sometimes!

  8. WOW!! Absolutely gorgeous! That last pic with you looking back over your shoulder- 🔥

  9. It looks soooo good!! Can you get this perm if your hair is highlighted?? I have the STRAIGHTEST hair and have always wanted curly hair. I actually tried to get a “beach wave” perm 10+ years ago but it didn’t take (worth noting that my stylist knew my hair was color treated and didn’t mention this could/would be an issue). I followed all the post-perm rules but first time I washed it—zero curl! I was so disappointed, and it pretty much ruined my hair texture for the better part of a year. But still, I’d be willing to give perms another go if I knew I could get curls in the end. The heart wants what it wants. 😂🤷‍♀️

    1. Yes! You can which is another reason to use curlcult since regular perms can’t do highlighted hair!

  10. Aaah I’ve been look8ng forward to seeing this.
    Ryann, absolutely gorgeous!! Yaaay!!
    The beachy, wind-tousled l9ok really suits you.
    BTW, your skin is looking great, too.

    I had really long (down to my bum), thick, yet very fine, strawberry blonde hair in the late 80s and had a corkscrew perm. *coughs* It was uber-fashionable and, not being easily infuenced by fads, my mum was the instigator. As most of you know, I live in Australia, but the beginning of my perm journey happened in the US!
    It was cheap, by Aussie prices.

    I was a beginning teacher back then, and while the kids had shocking, awful nicknames for most teachers, I was so chuffed to learn that my nickname was Ms Noodles!! As in 2 miute noodles!!🤣🤣🤣
    Unfortunately, back in the day, the smell was atrocious and I swear it got stuck in my nostrils and, fun fact…not, it made me fart perm-solution for days!!! 🤣
    Another un-fun things about those bad old perms, is tgat they grew pu8t terribly. Like, straight, then REALLLLY CURLY, REALLY CURLY!!
    Soooo…. I had to keep on having perms….verrrry expensive perms (like $200 in the 90s!😳) …. for yearrrrrrrrs!!!
    In the end, I hated it!!
    I finally found a hair dresser that suggested a loose root-only perm… my hair grew out quite well. Half way tgrough, I started blow-drying it straight and shocked my work colleagues the bah-geezies out of their minds!!! (No longer teaching then)

    Ryann, I think you xan tie up cyr,y hair uch ore easily tgan strsight gair, because it’s ful, of body an inherently a bit sexy-messy (yup! That’s why styling products are called “BEDHEAD)
    I suggest a loose, intentionally messy top-bun in a swirl on top of your head & a half ponytail, loosely tied so a few strands are loose at the front. Beeeeeeeautiful!💗

    1. Rusty— do you have a blog? I always look for your comments here and enjoy reading what you write. 🙂

      1. Ha! Dana … Once I pick up the smashed pieces of my life, I m8ght just do it!
        So many people ask me about it and Instagram, but I don’t have either yet.
        I need a bit more ‘head space’ from my new found freedom and I miiiiiiight just do it!
        Thank you for your kindwords,
        Rusty 🥰xx

  11. Wow, the curls are sooooo good on you! But, it’s the ever-so-slightly mischievous twinkle in your eyes in the post-perm pics that steal the show for me ; )

  12. Honestly I was a goner after you said “full 70s shag perm with bangs.” It’d be so good on you. The result here is cool, though! It’s not totally what I’d expected (maybe subconsciously still stuck on the 70s vibe), but so happy you like it!

  13. So cute! I found out a few years ago that, with the right coddling, my hair is actually pretty curly and I couldn’t be more STOKED. Everything you said about Julia Robert’s and Carrie Bradshaw and frizzy untamable tresses. I’m all about that aesthetic. You look great and it will make for BEAUTIFUL wedding hair. 🙂

    1. I would love to hear more about this coddling! 🙂 I think I am a bit curlier than I give myself credit for, but never know what to do about it!

      1. Terra, go back a few posts… Emily did a post about exactly that…she has curly hair too!

  14. Wow! It’s fabulous. Agree with all the comments about how beautiful and happy you look. And it’s not just the hair but the smile too.

    Having had the dreaded “poodle perms” of the 1980s, I was afraid for you but just wow. Your curls are the kind of perm I always wanted and never got. Ever.

    The pandemic stress seems to be making my fine straight hair fall out. I’m trying to do the least amount of damage and only washing and air drying. Otherwise I’d consider your kind of perm.

    How do they make the loose curls? Is it because they wrapped it along on those long rods instead of around and around itself on narrow curlers? Would love to know more.

    Enjoy you’re new look!

  15. You look great with some texture in your hair! I don’ t know that I would call this curly, more wavy, but it is a fabulous look! Very very natural looking. And easy, I hear you on the easy.

    1. Totally agree! You are GORGEOUS GORGEOUS GORGEOUS with this perm and I love the texture and movement! But I’m surprised to see it described as “curly!” To me this is wavy!!

  16. I LOVE it! Now I want a perm, something I swore I’d never do again after the 80s! You look SO FAB!
    PS I don’t think you want to cut bangs. They are fine for 2 weeks, then take forevah to grow out. Please, no

  17. How smelly were the chemicals? I LOVE your look, but am pretty sensitive to that kind of thing…

  18. I am totally inspired! Checking to see if there are any salons offering this here in SLC!

  19. Ryann, it looks beautiful! Looking at your hair before your perm, I’m wondering if you have naturally wavy or curly hair. Does your hair get frizzy in humidity? Would you describe it as fluffy? (As opposed to sleek and pin-straight?) If you answer yes to either of those, you have textured hair. When your perm falls out, look into the curly girl method. I have hair texture very similar to yours and discovered my hair is curly. Just a thought! Do a follow-up post on your wedding?

    1. I thought the same thing! My hair is so straight that comparatively, your natural hair looks what I would describe as wavy.

  20. Hi Jennifer! Congratulations on your perm — it looks beautiful! Can you recommend how to get a really intense spiral perm, please? I used to have natural 3A/3B curls — not quite like Bernadette Peters – but almost. All I had to do was wash my hair, go to bed with it dripping wet and in the morning I had long spiral curls. But then my hair changed and now it’s more like Emily’s. I tried an organic spiral perm, (I spent 4 hours in the chair having it done). All it did was kind of thicken my hair. I was given products to put into my hair and then instructed to “re-sculpt” each curl by twisting it and then letting the ‘curl” collapse into a column in my palm and push it up to my head repeatedly. I did this for about an hour until my hair had dried and the result was not any different from what my non-permed and productless hair had been like. So it was a waste of money, ($350 without the products) and time. Is it even possible to get spiral curls like Bernadette Peters with a perm? Maybe your hairstylist has some suggestions she could pass on? Thank you, Sabrina.

  21. Looks great! I have naturally curly hair and do get Brazilian Blowouts so I can have the best of both worlds. Curly when I feel like it and straight other times.

  22. It really suits you! And it looks very natural, impressive. That romantic, beachy, goddess-y look is definitely working for you 🙂

  23. So gorgeous! And I’m a long curly/wavy brunette who spent my 20s with a blow out so I am laughing my head off at your love of frizz! But gah the big curls to the natural looking grow out is amazing!

  24. Seeing this teased on social, i was skeptical. But reading through and seeing it, it looks AMAZING and totally suits you. If I was in LA I’d be booking an appointment to get one too!!

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