Sunday, 11 May 2014

Doing a Pin-up home perm

Right then, for a few weeks I've been experimenting with my hair, and I am finally ready to share what I've been up to - I want to talk to you about permanent waves or perms.

Now I have pretty boring hair, mostly straight with a little wave at the bottom and a bit of a tendency to frizz if I blowdry. It used to be pretty curly when I was younger, but its something that's gradually dropped from my hair during the years. So the idea of a treatment that could put a bounce back into my bob (I don't have a bob but you know, alliteration...) was pretty appealing.

The only problem is, you think perm and you think... well, Julia Roberts and Meg Ryan in the 80s? Even a bit of Bon Jovi? Or how about my Mum from the late 80s?

Me and my Mum in the late 1980s

Of course, my Mum's awesome but I think she must have done something magical to achieve that sort of volume and its not exactly the sort of look I wanted...

So waaaaay back at Easter I stumbled upon a product in Superdrug that sparked my interest. It was called Pin-up Original and it was a kit to perm your own hair at home. Something about perming my own hair appealed to me, it would save the cost of going to a hair dresser and it would mean I could set the rolls in exactly the style I wanted, getting *hopefully* the result I wanted.

I contacted the folks at Pin-up and they were really helpful, with so much advice of what size rods to use, how to treat my hair and what to do about setting it once it was permed. But even better than that they sent me a home perm kit containing rollers, waving lotion, a mixing bowl, pre-perm protection spray and their own setting lotion to try out so that I could tell all of you lovely readers about it**.

Part of the reason I was so interested in the Pin-up product specifically was that they have been making home perming kits since 1945! So I felt that if anyone understood the mid-centrury look I was striving for then they would. Check out these classic advertisements for their waving kits:

I received my Pin-Up super quick and feeling psyched up, I set aside some time on the bank holiday weekend to give it a go.

I was advised to use small rollers as they would create a firm wave that would hold a vintage hair set, although the prospect of this terrified me. Overall I used about 33 rods in my hair in 5 different sections and it was such a pain to put the wrappers on then roll the hair, but you know, after I did a few I felt like I was a bit more able and things progressed a bit quicker. Practice makes perfect I suppose.

I applied the perming lotion and it was pretty straight forward although it did smell interesting, like that smell that hair salons had in the 80s. But it only took 10 minutes to set into an S-wave which was amazingly quick.

Then came the neutralising part, this was a bit more tricky. You are meant to shake up the bottle and lather your hair, but the tube for putting it on your hair is really difficult to work with. In the end, I just shook the bottle and squeezed the foam onto my hair which was a muuuuuuuch easier way to do it.

After rinsing I would say I was pleased with how the curl had taken. It looked pretty wavy, but not too extreme, and not... erm... 80s.

Finally I had to let it dry. I misread the instructions and though that the 'do not style for 48 hours' meant I couldn't brush it or set it (oops) so I ended up with a bit of a mess if I'm honest. Knowing what I know now I would have done was wet set in in pin-curls to help the curl set, but oh well. Next time!

After 48 hours I was sort of at my wits end with it, it looked quite frizzy and I would be lying if I said I didn't start to second guess my permanent wave...

Then the magic happened!

I washed my hair and set it in pin curls and oh boy, did it turn out curly! I took two pictures one at the start of the day and one at the end. I used my usual setting lotion and didn't brush it out so I could get a clear picture of how the curls lasted.

Boy was I impressed. The curls lasted the whole day largely unscathed.

I then tried pincurl setting and brushing out and I'd say it looked pretty similar to the way it did before the perm, but the bounce just seemed to last a bit longer.

Generally I was really pleased, with how the curl is lasting and that it didn't seem to vastly change the texture of my hair (as I've heard that perms do) but I did find that I haven't had to wash it as much lately. Not that I'm complaining about that.

I also experimented with rolls and curls to see how styling worked and I found that the slight increase in roughness of the hair meant that it was easier to put up.

A special bonus was that when I take my hair out, even after just putting it up dry for a few hours I manage to get a lovely curl out of it. This is something I really, really appreciate.

The overall selling point of Pin-Up is that it is meant to be an invisible wave that just helps keep the style lasting a little bit longer. Which, lets face it, is exactly what all girls dream of, and I actually think that is what I've managed to get. Although I have taken special care not to blowdry my hair for fear of generating that 80s look. I recently ordered a diffuser so that I can use the dryer and I'll let you know how that goes another time.


So thinking back on my perming experience at the time of writing, its been 3 weeks since I had the perm done, and if I'm honest, I haven't really found that the curl has dropped that much. It has a little bit, but when I've just washed it I'm seeing roughly the same amount of wave as I was at the start.

I think I'm also more used to the ways of styling and have built a routine. I wash then curl with pin curls until it is completely dry. I then take it out and brush out or wear super curly depending on the look I'm going for. I've found that it doesn't need washing for around 4 days so that means it has become much easier to do vintage up-dos. YEY!!!

In the long run I will be interested to see how long the wave lasts, but at this point I would definitely do a perm at home again!

**Full Disclosure: The kit was sent to me free of charge


  1. I wish I could perm my hair, but my hair is way too thick to hold the solution. And then I have hypothyroidism which because of it won't allow my hair to take to the solution. I love how the perm came out on you. So very pretty. I haven't heard of pinup as a brand, but I'm glad you had success with it.

    1. Oh that's a shame :( I have to say I was worried about how the curl would take, I'm lucky that my hair is thick enough, but not too thick. We all have our hair issues I guess. Mine is definitely the premature grey...

  2. Oh wow -it looks great! I saw this in superdrug yesterday....

    Love those curls :)

    1. Thanks a lot! I think its something so easy to miss hidden away in all those hair dyes, but oh boy am I glad I saw it now!

  3. Looks amazing! Your hair looks pretty thick, whereas mine is quite fine, but regardless of that - would you say it gives your hair more volume?


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