What is a Digital Perm: Things You Should Know

Are Digital Perms the Curling Iron of the Future?

There was a time when considering a perm sounded like a bad idea to just about everyone. 

That’s not an exaggeration either. During this now distant American era, weird things were normal; like your best friend having to call your house phone to reach you. A modern millennial nightmare. 

Though, the real nightmare of the time was your friend eventually calling to confess they’ve decided they desperately want a perm. 


Let’s not get carried away though, it’s 2020 and digital perms are trending. Take it from a veteran perm-er and check out my digital perm review.

A digital perm’s outcome is an effortless head of beachy, soft curls. When you compare it to the recognizable and historically feared cold perm, the results are striking. 

While the cold perm is known for creating smaller or kinkier curls, digital perms produce larger and more natural looking waves. You would never guess they were the product of a perm. 

No more tight permed ringlets leaving these salons. 

digital perm

Never Heard Of It? What is a Digital Perm?

The digital perm also known as the spiral perm, body wave perm, and beach wave perm has been a staple of Asian beauty treatments for over ten years. As popularity grows in the US, it’s becoming widely known as the perm creating beachy waves.

digital perm machine

The process uses hot rods that connect to a machine with infrared heat that controls the hot rod temperature. The settings on the machine factor in hair profile and desired outcome of the curl. Your hair is doused with a perm solution that is supposed to be less harsh than cold perm solutions. The result is 6 months and in some cases, even over a year of everyday curls.

Our beauty editor, Jane, found that her hair looked even shinier after her digital perm and did not cause any split ends (unlike every dye job she’ve ever had.) Jane is a digital perm addict with each treatment lasting her over 18 months! Learn about her digital perm experience here. 

You read that correctly. An entire year of the most tasteful waves you’ve ever had. If you are still curious to know more about the exact process, check out Hair God Guy Tang’s video about digital perms.

Digital Perm: The body wave perm creating flawless beach curls


  • The perm will last 6-12 months, which will save you many trips to the hairdresser and many hours using your curling wand
  • Digital perms produce a natural wave as opposed to a tight curl, allowing for versatility in how you style them. 
  • It is standard to receive a consultation from the stylist prior to making the jump. So you have some time to consider if this is the right decision for your hair type. 
  • Your hair will look amazing wet. Imagine – beautiful defined ringlets on the beach! 


  • The average cost begins at $150 and increases depending on hair length and thickness. 
  • You’ll be sitting in the salon for about 2-4 hours. So you’ll need a good book. 
  • If you get tired of curls within a year, you’re a bit stuck with them.
  • A digital perm may not suit your hair type. They often work best for thick, coarse hair. If your hair holds a curl from a curling iron well, then it’s a good indicator that digital perm curls will hold too. It’s important to check with your stylist before trying it out. I’ve met people with thin hair their digital perm curls did not hold.

Digital Perm Verdict

Digital perm soft waves
Hairshaftbelle Instagram

Curls made to last a year is a tough offer to pass up, especially if you are always curling your hair or just tired of straight hair.

Healthy comes with a price tag, and in this case it is one payment for over 6 months of results. If you’re unsure about giving it a try, start to make some comparisons based on how you budget your hair currently.

What do you pay for a full head of highlights? Now include how often you touch them up within a year of receiving them. It’s a lot more than we’d all like to admit, because it just looks so good when it’s done.

A digital perm is an investment. The more effort you put into maintaining it, the more valuable your investment becomes. However, you’ll have to weed out those frizz causing culprits to get a head start. Read our tips and tricks for managing beautiful, curly locks (coming soon). 


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