Hairstyles, Hair Care & Fashion

Perm One Section of the Hair

Q: I am 56 years old and perfectly normal person when it comes to hair styles. Maybe 20% gray, which is also dyed to a natural medium ash brown and is medium length. It seems like it has heavy texture, since it takes long time to dry, but once it's dried, it shiny and silky and - half wavy from the root area - straight at the ends! (Why me Lord?) I've been dying and perming my hair. I've dyed it for just a couple of years but putting in my own perms for several years (since about 1980 or so).
It's not that I can't go to the salon to get any of these services, but I had a very bad experience in late 70s. My hair was down to the middle of my back. I wanted my hair to have just little of the body on the back of my flat head. So, I went to a good hairdresser (per recommendations), and told her what I wanted. To make a long story short, I end up cutting my hair all the way up to my ears. My hair was fried! My hair is very slow-growing, so it took good 4 years to regrow it.
I never went to a hairdresser for another perm or hair cut again. I learned to do it on my own! So, I have a question for you if you are still willing to help me: My hair is medium length, and most of the time I have it up in the clip. But sometimes I would like to have it down. I like it flat on the sides and behind my ears, but with body and curls on the back. Would that be a good idea to just have a perm from the crown of my hair and down or should I have sides permed also (I don't want crown and bangs permed).
Please tell me if this is going to work for me. ASAP, please! Thank you so very much - in advance, for your response.

A: There’s no question of my willingness to help, because I’m always willing to help. However, I’m not sure what I can say about your situation because you’ve not given me the right kind of information to make a judgment as to whether the style you’re describing would be flattering to you.
If you’re asking from a purely theoretical viewpoint my opinion of whether you can simply perm one section of the hair and create a reasonable looking style, then yes. Partial perms have been used to create a number of very flattering styles. That being said, they are usually used to add curl to longer areas of hair in creating a style that mixes shorter and longer lengths. I’m not sure that simply perming the hair at the back of the head will be a very flattering look. It could look very awkward if the rest of your hair is of a very different wave pattern.
Since I don't know your face shape, how balanced your features are, or your build, it’s impossible for me to picture what styling elements you need to flatter your face. I’m forced to go with assumptions, which may or may not be correct. I don’t even know exactly how your hair is currently cut – whether it has layers or is all one length all over the head.
It sounds like you want to add some volume to the hair in back of your head. If you do have long hair all over the head and want only to perm the back section, I recommend using the largest available perm rods, to avoid creating a dramatic difference in wave pattern from the rest of your head. Using smaller rods will only create an awkward and obviously unnatural look in your hairstyle.
Related posts:
How perms work
What is a foil perm or partial perm?
Can I get a body perm for only the back of my short hair?