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Why Are More Men Getting Perms?

The modern men’s perm is so high for fine hair. On TikTok, the hashtag #menperm is referring to one of the latest. Hair trends generated by the apphas received over 20.7 million views.

Those videos often begin with a man sitting in a salon chair, with an over-the-shoulder image. The camera pans around her head just before the final shot of her crown: silky, voluminous waves to the sound of K-pop boy bands.

“I saw an Asian influencer on TikTok with curly hair, and I’m like, that’s not relevant, because most Asians have straight hair,” said Brendan Dukhwa, 20, of Durham, A student from England. “And then I did some research, and that’s when I realized he had permission.”

Once popular primarily among Korean and Korean-American men, it has gradually expanded beyond these groups over the past four years — thanks, in part, to TikTok and K-pop. While the hairstyle is nothing new in South Korea, its wider adoption marks a notable shift from the early 2000s, when The term “metrosexual” – used to describe aesthetically harmonious men – became popular.

In South Korea, beauty standards are deeply tied to the music industry, with “perfect skin symbolizing K-pop’s ideal, with perfect hair,” said S. Heijin Lee, director of Women, Gender and conducts research on sexuality studies, Korean pop culture, beauty, and digital media at the University of Hawaii at Manoa as an assistant professor of gender.

Those same respectable characteristics — or, in this case, men’s permissiveness — are then circulating using social media.

Brandon Noji, 25, an LGBTQ youth services worker who lives in Los Angeles, stumbled upon the hairstyle online while in quarantine in the early days of the pandemic.

Mr. Noji said he has a long history of “mismatches” that can be traced back to every man’s hair fad of the past two decades: a buzz cut (Brad Pitt in “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”) went. Justin Bieber Mop (a bowl cut apparently written in cursive) turned pompadour (an inverted, cut bowl cut) became a man (the Hipster Bros and Skater Boys Williamsburg, Brooklyn, circa 2015).

So she made sure to do her homework before going to the salon. He compiled a collection of references including “The squid gameActor Gong Yoo, ThePachinkoActor Lee Minho and K-pop boy group BTS.

And since his first authorization in June 2020, Mr Noji has undergone 10 more treatments. “I love my curls. I feel so much more confident,” she said. “The waves add so much personality that feels so close to my own.”

Perms are certainly no stranger to Americans. Hair bands. Hair spray. Hair teased. The 80s are one of the most memorable decades for hair in the United States. If your chunky television was on, there they were: stiff, bouffant, larger-than-life ringlets that smelled and demanded moisturizing.

Unlike its over-gelled, over-sprayed American cousin, the “Korean Perm” is much more subtle. It is almost unnoticeable so looks natural.

Ben Duong, a 19-year-old student in Greenville, S.C., describes his loose curls as “prominent, but not in-your-face ostentatious.” Her hair even convinced two friends who accompanied her to her second perm appointment to try it out for themselves.

Tyler Jung, 26, an analyst in New York City, said there are only two types of people in the world: those who understand hairstyles and those who don’t.

“There are some people who don’t pay attention or don’t pay attention at all, and that can be interpreted as ‘not working,'” Mr. Jung said in a video interview, adjusting his whisper. “But in a way, it means it doesn’t look artificial or exotic, which is the worst feeling you can have about a new haircut.”

The Korean perm (“perm” is short for “permanent wave”) is distinctive for other reasons: its top curls are soft and loose; The hairstyle is versatile and can be worn with a comb or bangs. And the sides and back of the head are blurred with clippers and scissors. For a little more money, a person can opt for what’s called a down perm, which relaxes and flattens stubborn strands, creating a smoother look.

“Carl Nessler is credited with creating the first permanent wave machine in 1906, and they soon became common in most beauty salons,” hair historian Rachel Gibson wrote in an email. Ms Gibson added that the perm has long since been introduced when the style was implemented with “methods used in the textile industry to transform fibres”.

“The machineless perm, using only chemicals to change the texture of the hair, was created by Zotos in 1932, with home perm kits becoming widely available in the 1940s,” Ms Gibson said. In the early 1900s, Garrett Morgan, a trailblazer for black inventors, discovered a Effective hair straightener, or what is known today as casual. Instead of forming coils, this chemical treatment straightened the tendrils. Although relaxers have historically been used by black people and other communities with natural curls, Treatments and Applications These curls are part of some of the most popular hairstyles for black men.

Although it’s unclear where this modern style of perm originated, some famous Korean male celebrities, including soccer player Ahn Jung-hwan and K-drama “Winter Sonata” actor Bae Yong-Jon, have grown Credit is given on the scale. Popularizing men’s perms early on, said Sehwa Jin, hairstylist and owner of Namza, a Los Angeles salon specializing in hairstyles popular with Korean men.

Since then, another term “weave perm” has emerged to refer to this hairstyle, which today includes the circling with Gen Zs and millennials, popular in South Korea. said Mojin Choi, the personality’s hairstylist. Worked with BTS.

Mr. Jin added that Japan and South Korea have had multiple interpretations of men’s permits for decades, but the differences are in “the fashion and style of each country.” However, the methods and tools behind this perm aren’t all that different from the springy American manse that dominated the late 20th century.

Both use chemical solutions and plastic curling rods. Both can apply heat depending on the desired look, and both can hold curls for anywhere from two to six months, depending on one’s commitment to aftercare, including moisturizing, humidity prevention and treatment. Includes using products formulated for damaged hair. And, to borrow a line from Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde,” everyone adheres to the same basic rule: “Wet your hair for at least 24 hours after you get your perm.” It is forbidden.”

The US price tag, which can range from $120 to $400, is on the premium end of men’s hair treatments and depends on several factors, including location, number of hair products needed and the tip (men’s in South Korea Permits are fairly inexpensive (ranging from $25 to $165). Despite hefty admission fees, Gen Z-ers and Millennials continue to flock to the studios with gusto. K-pop “Stanz.”

Christian Kon, a Los Angeles recruiter, spent part of his childhood in Japan, where men are more permissive. Every three months since 2011, Mr. Cone has gotten a hairstyle. For him, convenience outweighs price.

“A perm is low maintenance. I wake up, and my hair is done,” Mr Cone, 30, said. “I already have the volume. I already have the texture. I already have the curls.

Mr. Noji believes that he has also fully committed to the permit. But sometimes he misses his natural edges.

“Every now and then, I think about going back to my straight hair,” Mr Noji said. “But then I remember, that’s the thing with permissions: They’re not actually permanent.”

Although hair fads may come and go, the modern men’s perm has evolved. It has become something of a gateway.

After treating their trunks, young people who spoke to The New York Times said they put more thought (and cash) into their general self-care practices. The heat and chemistry of harsh perm solutions can damage the scalp and hair follicles, and failure to consistently massage your locks with hair oil can result in a dry, frizzy look.

“If you want your curls to last longer, you have to put in a little more effort to take good care of it,” says Dylan Noring, 22, a substitute teacher in Fontana, California. A curling routine mostly consists of using conditioner and patting her tendrils with a microfiber towel before air-drying.

Mr. Jung, on the other hand, has drawn attention to his face with the bangs on top of his head. Since her initial permit in 2020, she has undergone an eyebrow tint and a lash lift. “I feel like I can do anything now,” he said.

These delicate curls may signal a freer and more widespread shift today from the archaic masculine beauty standards of the past.

“We’re in a moment, at least in the United States, where younger generations are very critical of something like toxic masculinity,” said Dr. Lee, a professor who studies Korean culture and beauty standards. Hairdos from beloved K-pop boy band members and leading actors in Korean dramas offer an alternative, he said.

“Something like a boy perm becomes an aesthetic way of wearing it and symbolizing it,” he said.

Draw a graph measuring the prevalence of male permutations, and it will probably match a map of the popularity of K-pop groups and K-dramas in the United States. The proliferation of these pop culture exports can be seen in two distinct periods that also coincide with the rise of various social media apps.

In the early 2010s — when Instagram didn’t have ads and young millennials still used Facebook — there were boy bands Big Bang and Shiny, “Gangnam Style” singer Psy and the drama series “Boys Over Flowers.” In the 2020s, which has brought the boom and epidemic of TV streaming, which has become TikTok, BTS, K-pop girl group Blackpink and “Squid Game”.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, major U.S. news outlets and talk show hosts zeroed in on Koreans seeking to “look white” with plastic surgery, Dr. Lee said (eg As, some Americans Asians are obsessed with double eyelid surgery) “Fast-forward to the present moment, where we see all these trends towards the ‘Korean look,'” he continued. “I think this change really illuminates the way in which Korean pop culture has exploded and become a global sensation.”

Naamza, a hair studio in Los Angeles, was founded in 2018, and before 2020 men’s perms accounted for only 30 percent of its business. Today, that percentage has more than doubled, according to Namza’s manager, Han Kim. Nationwide, in New York City, Salon Jetel saw the number of hairstyle requests reach 22 between January and March 2023, up from four during the same period in 2021.

While demand for men’s perms has grown, requests still come from a relatively small segment of the clientele, said Harumi Mikami, a stylist at Salon Jetel.

Mr. Kim said the hairstyle was “rising and growing” and attributed the shift in demographics of salon patrons to the widespread use of K-pop and TikTok. From 2018 to 2019, about 90 percent of Naamza’s clients were Korean and Korean-American and “young male professionals who were already familiar with permits,” Mr. Kim said. The rest were men of similar age with other identities. After 2020, it continued, that transitioned to 70 percent of Asians and Asian Americans (including Koreans and Korean Americans) and 30 percent of non-Asian men.

Eric Ambrose’s motivation for permission was a desire to try something new. “I have very thick, straight hair, so curling was fun,” said Mr. Ambriz, 32, who is Mexican-American and works for his family’s trucking business in Oxnard, Calif. “

But for many like Mr. Noring, who is Chinese and Cambodian American, it was especially true to see Asian male celebrities sporting a similar cut for so long. “If it looks good on K-pop idols, it should look good on us,” he said.

Mr. Jung, who spends about $300 at the salon every three months, shared the sentiment — and doesn’t plan to go back. “If you have some disposable income, why not look like a Korean idol?”



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