Hair Care

By Rebecca Goldberg

This is not your mother’s perm. My mom still sports her 1984 style–the curl is tight, frizzy, and she’s got helmet head. For years I’ve tried to convince her that there’s a better way. Now, I can prove it to her.

This summer, I decided I wanted soft, Gisele-like curls, but I hesitated about perming my hair. I couldn’t shake the image of my mother sitting under the hairdryer baking away, with all those rods in her hair, while she gossiped about her children.

I needed to find an innovative salon. A salon that would meet my needs, make my hair fabulous and no helmet head. I decided to visit Rodney Cutler. There I met the new perm pioneer Dawn Ramsay-Hiller. She is the force propelling the biggest hairstyle you’ll see this summer – the new, and entirely innovative, permanent re-texturizing.

“People are scared of the word perm because they picture the old perms of the 1980′s. What we’re doing now is much more loose and natural looking,” said Dawn.

While I was relived that she understood what I wanted, I was still nervous about the final results. In the bland, boxy state my hair was in, I had trouble picturing it.

She told me exactly what to expect, brought me around the salon, and we compared what I liked and didn’t like with the other styles I saw.

“Talk to me about your hair,” she said.

“Well, it doesn’t do anything. It’s straight and it just hangs. I want body and style.”

She started off by cutting my hair. That alone revolutionized my style. It looked awesome. My hair was layered to evenly distribute the volume of curl.

Out came the rollers. They were selected to tailor the curl to the right volume. She alternated between larger and smaller ones, and weaved my hair onto them to give me a naturally curly look. Some of the long bangs I was given were left unrolled. They’d be straight to offset the traditional, helmet inspired, perm look.

When my hair was rolled up, we moved over to the sink for a dousing of the infamous solution. Instead of that gross eggy smell of the past; the new solutions have scents like apple. Yum. About 15 minutes later, the rollers were removed to reveal curly, natural looking hair.

I was impressed by the simplicity of the process. No baking under old school space helmet hair dryers of the past with uniform rows of cookie cutter curl.

Now that I have curl, how do I take care of it?

Hair will remain curly for approximately two or three months. Dawn recommends using a wide tooth comb to detangle wet hair and letting it air dry. It is best to use a cleanser that is not too harsh and a product to maintain curl. I tried Redken Clear Moisture shampoo and conditioner in conjunction with the Fresh Curls Curl Boost also by Redken.

The products she used kept my hair bouncy, held the curl and best of all I didn’t have that early 1990′s over-gelled look.

The new permanent re-texturizing is fun and so now!

Cutler is located 115 E. 57th Street. Call 212-308-3838 for an appointment.

Originally published July 2004
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