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Last updated: February 09, 2024

3 Perm Rules to Break!

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Trending Men’s Hairstyles: Men’s Perms Are TikTok VIRAL

With over 26 MILLION views on TikTok—men’s perms (and short-haired perms) are BLOWING UP stylists’ service requests. You probably haven’t thought about perms since you passed your state board, so we reached out to one of our favorite perm experts—Paul Mitchell Pro Artistic Director Paula Peralta (@thepaulaperalta)—to give us a crash course on the subject.


In an exclusive 90-minute Men’s Perm Class on BTC-University, Paula broke down the “standard” perm rules to follow, and the rules she suggests breaking!


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Standard Perm Rule #1: 9-Segment Sectioning

Not so fast! Create organic placements instead. Paula’s number one rule for any modern perm technique: Follow the client’s natural head shape. That means breaking away from the traditional sectioning you were taught in beauty school. 


We’ve all learned it: 

  • Mohawk front to back
  • Four subsections on either side of the head
  • 9 subsections total 


“This is definitely a more organic placement,” explains Paula. Since you’re reconstructing the hair’s natural fall, adjust the sectioning to help you create the end result your client is requesting.  


Pro Tip: Don’t be afraid to use organic placements for your perms. “You can break the rules with sectioning to create customized end results,” adds Paula. 


See Paula’s rod placement below & swipe for the head sheet! 

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Standard Perm Rule #2: Use Horizontal Partings For Volume

Not so fast! Use vertical partings for a natural fall. “Unlike a traditional perm where volume is created at the base—I’m not doing that here, I’m looking for minimal volume so my male clients don’t end up with a pouf as an end result,” explains Paula.


Instead of standard horizontal partings, she pivots to almost-vertical partings to avoid creating volume at the base. “It’s almost like a spiral, but not as tight because I don’t want too much of the lift or the coil,” she adds. 




Standard Perm Rule #3: Perm Rods Only

Not so fast. Get creative. The thing about permanent waving in the salon now is that you can’t be afraid to get creative,” shares Paula. “You have to be flexible based on your guest’s hair and their desired end result. So we’re not breaking the rules from a chemical perspective, but more rewiring your brain to relax so you can play with this service.” 


One of the ways you can tweak this service is with what you wrap with. Here’s a quick cheat sheet of other ways Paula has modernized her perm “rods”: 


  • Flexi-rods
  • Sponges
  • Straws



Some Things Never Change: Don’t Skip These Perm Steps

Foundational education is just that, it lays the building blocks of knowledge so you are able to make any technique your own. Perms are no exception. “Remember, we’re not changing the perm from a chemical perspective,” Paula repeats. “The things that never change are the steps of the process.” 


Steps you learned in perming school that are KEY to any permanent wave service:

  • Wrapping the hair (around anything that isn’t metal)
  • Apply cotton to protect client’s skin
  • Application and saturation of wave solution and process
  • The rinsing rule: Rinse for five minutes for the first five inches of hair and one minute for every additional inch of hair 
  • Blot the hair with towels AND paper towels 
  • The application and saturation of the neutralizing solution and process 
  • Rinse using the five-minute rule again
  • Style


Get access to the Men’s Perm complete tutorial here!

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