When I think of perms, my mind automatically flashes back to my mother in the 1980s with a full head of dark, tight, chemically set ringlets — a look that was trendy at the time but still makes her cringe to this day. I always considered perms a thing of the past because of it, but users on TikTok are consistently (and, I’ll be honest, surprisingly) proving me wrong these days. Curly perms are becoming really popular among young men on the app, where countless transformation videos are set to 808 beats and bass drops.
Perms for men are, actually, one of the beauty industry’s biggest emerging trends, according to Florida-based-hairstylist Olivia Smalley. “A lot of these young boys are getting perms now to enhance their curls,” she says. “It’s huge on TikTok right now.”
Scroll through TikTok’s hashtag for #perm and you’ll see exactly what she means. The tag will lead you to a long stream of videos — posted overwhelmingly by men and boys — that has accumulated more than 334 million views collectively.
Nikko Mendez, a TikTok user who gets perms, isn’t very surprised that this is the case. “There are some influencers who’ve done this and people are just following the wave,” he tells Allure. “It’s unique and draws attention but in a subtle way — it’s a good confidence booster, especially when you’ve cycled through many hairstyles.”
Antoine Saleh, another perm devotee on TikTok, says the trend allows him to have variety with this hair, which he rarely experiences due to its natural texture. “It had always been on the back of my mind to get a perm,” he says. “Being half Chinese, I have straight, thick hair that isn’t very malleable.” Just one month after having his perm done by a local cosmetology student (he says no salons in his area offer perms), he decided he liked it enough to go back for even tighter curls than his first round, shown below.
When they put it that way, it’s easy to see why young men love this trend so much. Not to mention how refreshing it is to see men putting effort toward their appearance and having these little moments of self-care. I don’t even need to tell you this, but I’m all for this. TikTok, what’s next?
More on TikTok:
Now, see how curly hair has evolved within the past 100 years: