The male perm is one of this year’s top men’s hair trends, here’s how to nail the curly look
Not only is the perm making a comeback from its 1980s and 90s heyday, but the male perm is one of the hottest hair styles for men this year. Here’s how to join the curly hair men crew
L ads. It’s time to embrace your naturally curly hair – or at least fake it with a male perm. What was once seen as the reserve of women, the perm is well and truly making a comeback among people of all ages and the male perm is one of the hottest men’s hair styles of this year.
Not only does it make you look younger, but if you’ve got thinning hair or a receding hairline, adding curls on top creates the illusion that you’ve still got a full head of hair. Jack Harlow has also helped make the trend more popular.
Although they seem like hard work, male perms take surprisingly little effort to maintain, if done properly, and they cause much less damage to your hair than using heat styling on the daily.
We should point out that when we refer to curly hair men, or the male perm, we’re not talking about a Napoleon Dynamite-style look. The male perm hairstyles that are all over TikTok, music videos, and football pitches are more stylised versions of the ’90s favourite. And there are a number of options and styles to choose from.
“The perm is a great hairstyle for men who want to give the appearance of thicker, fuller-looking hair,” award-winning men’s hairdresser and owner of Toni&Guy Billericay, Jim Shaw told MBman. “We started to see the perm becoming very on-trend for men in 2022 and this will continue for 2023.
“In 2022 we saw this trend being very popular paired with short sides and length on top and we will continue to see this, as well as some new perm trends. We will start to see men introducing fringes into their perms, which looks fantastic paired with contrasting short sides and is a great full-looking style.
“The perm also looks great paired with an over comb for those who prefer more of a statement look and want to give their hair even more volume with the addition of the side parting.”
“Men are starting to embrace their curls more than ever and enhance them with a perm, whereby the treatment lasts for months and allows them to not need to use any heated styling on their hair – perfect for the low maintenance man!”
Curly hair men
Below we’ve explained how to make the most of your natural waves and curls if you’re likely enough to have them, and we showcase the different types of male perms you can opt for. Either at home or at your barbers.
Male perm styles
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all male perm style. Here is our selection of the best male perm styles for all face shapes and hair types.
Fringe and perm
This look is simple but effective. If you have more hair on top of your head, this is perfect for you. Keep the sides short as curls on top will make your hair look thicker and fuller. Curly hair that falls just above your eyebrows will give the impression of an effortless style. But if you have naturally curly hair all over just opt for a curly fringe and faded sides.
Caesar cut and perm
You can think of this as the curly version of a short back and sides. To get decent curls on the top of your head, you do need to have a good amount of growth. This is the perfect hairstyle if you want maximum impact with minimum effort – it’s simple but very easy to maintain.
Fade and perm
This look will give a statement, if you have very long hair on top this is the look. The fade on the sides and back is near enough a buzz cut, then you can let the curls on top do the talking. If you’ve permed the top of your hair it should last for six months, all that needs maintenance is the fade.
How to use a male perm kit at home
You can buy male perm kits for use at home and they contain everything you’ll need to get curls other than the rods you’ll actually need for the perming.
Amazon sells various sets and you need to opt for one with different-sized rods – unless you know exactly which size you need. If you want tighter curls, opt for thin and small rods, if you want more loose curls, use bigger rods. Scroll down for perming rod recommendations.
If you have bleached hair, consult a hairdresser before doing a perm at home because it can damage your hair.
In general perm kits come with:
- Perming solution
- Neutralising solution
Always start with clean hair before your male perm. Use shampoo and give hair a good wash but skip conditioner. The conditioner will affect the perming solution.
Male perm instructions
Below is a standard step-by-step guide on how to do a male perm at home but make sure you always read the instructions on the home kit as every kit will vary.
- Wrap your hair around curling rollers: Take a small section of hair, put a piece of paper against the inside of your hair and wrap it around the rod. The paper ensures the ends of your hair stay smooth. Repeat the process till your hair is wrapped
- Apply the perm solution: Saturate your hair with the solution, making sure all of the rolled hair is completely covered. Some like to wrap cotton rolls around the head so the solution doesn’t fall around the eyes or ears.
- Wait: Depending on how curly you want your hair, wait for the curls to set. This on average will take 20-25 minutes but ALWAYS check the instructions on the kit.
- Rinse: Rinse out the solution thoroughly. We recommend you spend about five minutes rinsing so you can’t smell it anymore. Use a towel to soak up excess water.
- Apply the Neutraliser: A perm neutraliser will re-bond the structure of the hair and lock the curls in place. Leave the male perm neutraliser in your hair for five minutes (or as per the kit’s instructions) and rinse your hair again
- Remove the rollers from your hair and apply any remaining neutraliser before scrunching your hair. Leave the Neutraliser for a further two minutes and then rinse a third time.
- Dry: You can dry your hair now with a diffuser or let it naturally air dry. Once your hair is dry, avoid shampooing it for 24-48 hours, this ensures everything is set properly.
Best perm kits
As perm is still very much seen as a female endeavour, most perm kits have women on the front. Don’t let this put you off though, the solution inside each works on all hair types.
Wella Professionals Creatine+ Curl N
£11.95 | Buy now
This perm kit from Wella Professionals is designed for straight or hard-to-curl hair, although it will work on all hair types.
The solution contains ingredients developed to soften, condition and protect their hair and leave it shinier and less frizzy even after washing.
Inside the box is a pre-treatment to prepare the hair; the perm solution and neutraliser.
This perm kit doesn’t come with any perming rods though so you’ll need to buy these separately. We’ve recommended a couple of affordable options in our perming rods section below.
Buy now from Amazon
Polyfoam Perm Normal
£4.99 | Buy now
Schwarzkopf has created a foam perming solution called Poly Style.
It’s a simple way to create curls and contains a softening conditioner Schwarzkopf calls the Vitamin Care Complex.
You don’t have to just take our word for it. This is a popular, affordable choice as seen in this video from Ryan on TikTok.
Inside the at-home perm kit you get:
- Wave Foam
- Extra Soft Conditioner
- End Papers
- 2 Cotton Wool Strips
- Pair of Gloves
Buy now from Superdrug
Ogilvie Home Perm for Normal Hair
£11.91 | Buy now
Ogilvie is a gentle perming formula that can be used at home.
This perming kit protects your hair from dryness and frizz because it comes with a pre-perm conditioner to keep hair soft and protected.
It also comes with a curl chart at the back which recommends what size rods to use for what type of curls you’d want.
Inside the kit is:
- Pre-perm Conditioner
- Drip Guard
- Large End Papers
- Curling Lotion
- Instant Crème Neutraliser
- Leave-in Conditioner
Buy now from Amazon
Curly hair men: Perming rods
There are different types of curling rods to use when perming your hair, below we’ve listed a range of types of perm rods that will give you what you need when perming your hair. Generally, the curlier you want your hair, the smaller the rod.
36pcs Set Perm Curlers
£7.59 | Buy now
This perm curler set gives a wide range of size rods for perming your hair.
There are seven sizes and each rod has a band that keeps the curled hair secure as it sets.
The variety of sizes is great and reviews have loved the range of results available.
Buy now from Amazon
Liberty Perm Rods
£4.99 | Buy now
If you don’t have a lot of hair on top and are not looking to perm your whole head, these male perm rods are perfect for just concentrating on certain sections of hair at a time.
The size of these rods are small which means they’ll give you tight curls, but this is what makes the perm and fade, and Caesar cut and perm hairstyles their edge.
Buy now from Amazon
How to style naturally curly hair
What you’ll need:
- Sea Salt Spray
- Curl-Enhancing creams/gel
The key to getting your natural curls to stand out is to ensure to keep your hair frizz-free. This means protecting it, while giving it plenty of moisture. Naturally curly hair is notoriously dry and loses moisture easily so it’s important to maintain hydration. You can find out more on this in this hair porosity guide.
- Try not to wash your hair too much, a lot of shampoos can dry the hair out and prevent the natural curls in the hair from forming. In particular, shampoos which contain something called sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) can strip away your hair’s natural oils
- When you do have hair wash day, let your hair dry naturally. Don’t use your towel too much to dry your hair.
- While your hair is wet you can spray sea salt in your hair, this gives volume and lift to your hair and use your fingers to form the curls in your hair.
- For that extra definition of curls to your hair and reduce frizz. Use curl-enhancing products, this can be used on damp hair and you won’t need too much of this
MBman tip: The best shampoo we’ve used is the Hairstory New Wash. It restores moisture and cleans the hair without stripping it of its natural oils
How to style textured/wavy hair
If you have naturally textured or wavy hair, you already have a headstart on the male perm and curly hair men trend. Here’s how to work with what you’ve been blessed with. You can find the step-by-step guides below, or jump straight to our pick of the best curly hair products.
What you’ll need:
- Sea Salt Spray
- Heat Protection Spray
- Hairdryer (with a diffuser attached) – we recommend the Heist styling kit. It’s pricey but worth it
- Wash your hair, starting with clean hair is best. Use shampoo and conditioner – the conditioner will help minimise frizz
- Gently towel-dry your hair, make sure it is damp, and apply heat protectant spray or cream
- Grab your sea salt spray – sea salt naturally enhances beachy curls and gives a medium texture to the hair
- Spray through the hair and use your fingers to work through from root to tip
- Attach your diffuser to your hairdryer and, on the lowest setting, work it through your hair. If you don’t have a diffuser, just remove the nozzle as you want the heat to be distributed in multiple streams
- If you don’t have a hairdryer and diffuser, crunch your hair in your hand while blow-drying it
- When your hair is dry, add a little more sea salt spray on areas that need to be curled more. Consistently scrunch hair all over the head and you should start to see hair getting curl
MBman tip: This look also works for straight hair but you will need to be a bit more patient, and be consistent with the sea salt spray
How to care for your curly hair
Once you’ve permed your hair, you need to take care of your curls if you want to maintain your style. I
The first step is to use a curl-enhancing shampoo and conditioner. These typically contain moisturising nourishing ingredients – two things that curls need. You also don’t need to wash your hair that often, maybe 2-3 times a week maximum because washing can strip away essential scalp oils that keep your hair healthy and hydrated.
The tighter your curls, the more hydration they need to keep their curl pattern. If you have the time in your hair wash routine, even if it’s a bi-weekly thing that you do, apply a hydrating hair mask.
Look for masks that contain ingredients like coconut, shea butter, argan and a form of protein such as wheat or rice. Protein is incredibly important for curls as it gives your curls strength, shape, and structure. Without it, they’ll look weak, limp, and lack definition.
To keep curls looking fresh in between washes, you’ll need curl cremes and gels. Apply generously to cleansed and conditioned, soaking-wet hair. Using your hands, apply to hair from root to tip. Tilt your head forward and scrunch into curls in an upwards motion.
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