Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Digital perm - Terra By Afloat

I first read about digital perms about 5 years ago in the Beauty and Fashion forums on Soompi! (Lol omg it's been a long time.) It was something I was really interested in based on the posts I read there, but I never put the effort in to finding a place to get it done and most of the salons mentioned in the thread were on the mainland.
Back at the beginning of the year, I decided to try and research some (Hawaii) salons again, haha. I found a Yelp review for the digi perms at Terra by Afloat from someone I actually casually knew! We're not good enough friends where I had her number and could just text her and ask all kinds of questions, but I do know that she's really trustworthy, and her review was very well written. Seems like she was really happy with her digi perm and even went to get another after 10 months! That was good enough for me, and I decided that I would get one at Terra by Afloat.
That was back in January....and I got really lazy and didn't want to dish out the money at the time so I put the idea on the side. However, last month, I was looking at my long hair and how gross the texture is when I don't do anything to style it.
You can see the weird uneven waviness in the middle section but the bottom is stick straight
I also thought about how much I do love my hair curly/wavy, so I went to re-look at the Yelp reviews and finally made a phone call for a consult! I was told that I could walk in and whoever was available would be able to talk to me about it. I had to wait about 15 minutes (not unreasonable since I'm walking in), and then Tomo (salon director) was able to talk to me about it.
He sat me down in one of the chairs and talked to me about the texture of my hair - whether I had colored it, had I ever gotten a straight perm before? Things like that. He said that it shouldn't be too much of a problem, and the perm should work, but we would have to take some length off the ends. I was totally fine with that because my ends are quite horrible anyway. I fight so hard to keep the long length, but I know that it doesn't look good if you have a million split ends lol. (Also I'm just generally lazy to keep getting hair cuts...and don't want to spend money on it.) Anyway, before I leave the salon after the quick consult, I make an appointment for the next weekend. The estimated time of the appointment was 3 hours.
The interior of the salon is nice and clean with a small reception area at the entrance with lots of (Japanese) magazines. They don't have someone who is a permanent receptionist, so if you call, you'll probably have to leave a message. [Btw the salon is bilingual - English and Japanese!]
The parking is a bit hard...I ended up being dropped off and picked up for both my consult and actual digi perm appointment, but if the front area is full (only a few spaces there anyway), it's hard to say where you should park. Whenever I went, it was quite full (the first time there was even a delivery truck for another store and it took up a LOT of space), and I was glad to have been dropped off.

I showed up 2 minutes late for my appointment (I know! So bad -__- but there was an accident on the freeway :| I would have been early if not for that), and Tomo took me right away when I walked in.
These are horrible pictures, but I just felt really nervous, and I didn't want them seeing me taking a whole bunch of pictures of myself lol. It's not really the salon's fault though - like THEY didn't make me feel uncomfortable - it's just how I am around new people. Anyway, the first part is the cut which can be essential to how the perm lays/sits. Tomo shampoo'd and conditioned my hair and then cut off the dead ends. I also asked him to trim my bangs a bit. That took about half an hour to forty minutes. I didn't mind that though because I'm glad he wasn't just hacking it off.
Next, he and another stylist who was available applied a smelly chemical (with gloves) that had to sit for about 7 minutes. (Glad that two people worked on this because it has to be very thorough, and it helped make it quicker!) This is the part that I think some people complain about, but it wasn't TOO bad for me because the AC in there circulates the hair pretty well. I'm not super sensitive to smell though. It didn't burn as far as I can tell, and I wasn't too bothered by it. Plus, I liked that Tomo told me about how long I'd have to sit with it on so I didn't have to guess or speculate about it.
After the 7 minutes, they rinsed the chemical out, and there might have been another shampoo?
My hair was towel dried, and then Tomo applied the curlers. I'm not sure what each of the things in this part of the process are, but I'll try to explain it based on what I saw. He sectioned off my hair and then used this thing that looked like oil-blotting paper (for your face?) and put that at the ends of the hair and rolled my hair up with the round curler. At the end, he placed another oil-blotter thing and then secured it with rubber bands. That happened for all of my hair. Then, he used these long plastic things and stuck them through the rubber bands on the curlers so they would line up. (See pictures below lol. Sorry that was a horrible explanation.) He also put larger curlers inside the hair, close to my face so that the curlers wouldn't sit flat and directly touch my skin.
Okay before I move on, I need to explain that it looks like I have lots of neck fats, but there's a skinny brown towel inside the yellow gown right on my neck that's pretty much the same color as my skin tone in this lighting and it makes my neck look AWFUL lol. PLUS, I'm still trying to be discrete and so I took photos at all sorts of awful angles lol but I want to share them with you anyway so you can see what's going on wtf. The good part is that irl, the towel completely covered my neck and protected it or whatever, but in photos....ugh it just looks very bad.
Anyway, hopefully these pictures will help explain a little better what I was talking about. After he set everything up, he "plugged in" all the curlers. There's a little tiny machine with all these cords and stuff coming out of it. The plugs go directly into the curlers in my hair.
Yes, another horrible angle for my face FML lol. Also very grouchy face because I don't want people to think I'm smiling at myself. Okay, enough excuses lol. Tomo told me that I would be connected to the machine for 25 minutes. That was much shorter than I thought it would be! He also warned that if it felt hot, to let him know. Warm was okay but not hot. I didn't have any problems with temperature, and I think that's largely thanks to the giant curlers that he placed by my hair (they don't actually curl anything, they're just placed there). He went to work on another client in the mean time, although he did check on me every once in awhile. Not enough to be annoying, but a good amount that I didn't feel abandoned.
After 25 minutes, the curlers are disconnected and taken out. Another available stylist actually did this. (Fine, ofc. It's not like it really matters who does it lol.) The curls all are SUPER curly and springy like above, bringing my hair up to shoulder length. Tomo stopped by to check on it and jokingly told me this is how they would look. Luckily, I knew it was a joke and could just laugh haha.
Bad angle alert again. After all the curlers are taken out, another chemical is applied. It's different from the first one as far as I could tell and the smell isn't as strong...if there is even a smell at all? Nothing super noticeable to me. This time, tiny ear shower caps were placed on my ears before it was applied. (That's why I'm including the bad angle picture lol. It's supposed to be a picture of the ear cap.) Anyway, the chemical, which I'm assuming is the relaxing element, is placed on all the curls.
Then it's washed out! Another shampoo, and maybe conditioner as well. Hair is towel dried a bit and then the two other female stylists went to work at blow drying my hair. For like 10-15 minutes lol! It took a really long time. And blow driers are hot lol. Especially two at once. I guess it saved time but yeah that was definitely warm even with the AC on. They are very thorough with this part. Tomo came in at the end to check on it and dry a few pieces himself. He asked me "Do you blow dry your hair?" I said, "Uhhh sometimes lol". He said, "Please try." Lol. And briefly showed me how to twist the hair when blow drying to style it. I asked him if I should be applying any product before blow drying and he said hair oil/heat protection or leave in conditioner is fine, but DON'T use mousse. Also, don't get my hair wet for 24 hours.
And then the appointment was over! I paid and left.

Here are two pictures that I took right outside the salon while waiting to get picked up.
I was really happy with it. Nice, big loose curls.

^^ Later that night - front, back and side.

Comparison pictures - before (taken in the morning before I left after air drying after shampoo and conditioning) and after (night after appointment). Length is an obvious difference. Not only did he cut several inches off, but curls obviously make my hair appear shorter. I feel like it somehow looks healthier though because the texture doesn't look so tortured and the ends are less obvious.

I thought this might also be good to look at. My natural hair immediately after curling with my flat iron --> My natural hair 4 days after curling with my hair iron --> night after digi perm. Obviously the digi perm curls are the loosest, but I think I like it that way. Ideally, I might have liked it to be a bit more like the middle picture curls, but I don't mind it at all.

 This was my digi perm hair the second night after the appointment, right before I showered (it had been about 30 hours since my appointment finished). I think it looked best after sleeping on it actually lol. And it looked better right then than when I left the salon somehow! I was sad that I'd have to wash it lol. I was also SUPER worried to wash it because I was worried I wouldn't be able to style it back like this.

 So....after a few days, I gave up trying to use my blow dryer lol. My hair kept coming out super frizzy and DRY despite the heat protector I put on it. And I couldn't replicate the curls I had when I left the salon. Also, I don't have AC in my house so I can't possibly blow dry my hair for more than a few minutes at a time lol. And plus, blow drying is a little high maintenance for me...lol. I decided to just see how my hair would turn out if I just let it air dry while still trying to use the twisting technique. My hair routine after showering now includes no heat at all. 
I towel dry my hair (to absorb out as much water as I can without torturing it) and then let it air dry for a bit. After it's not so wet anymore, I separate my hair into two parts and twist each section in the direction of the curls (in this case inward towards my face). They basically sit in the twists on their own like in the top, very yellow picture without much manipulation besides the twisting. While it continues to dry, I occasionally just twist it a bit more. Sometimes if I feel like it, I'll also coil them into buns for about half an hour with scrunchies (so the elastic is not so tight), but them let them down and move it back into the twisted sections and let it dry like that. And it basically will always come out like the pictures on the bottom. The curls are not as big and even as they were when I left the salon, but I also didn't use heat. I'm completely fine with this look considering how low maintenance and easy it is. If I feel like the waves are getting weird throughout the day, I'll just twist them into the two sections again and they'll still sit like that, even dry. Basically to fix my hair, I just twist it a little more!
 Overall, I'm happy that I got the digital perm. I have what I wanted - something a bit easier for every day that's not gross looking like my natural air dried hair but that's less damaging than using my flat iron. Does that make sense? Lol. Basically I wake up with my hair looking like I want it without having styled it and it doesn't look half crunchy. Haha. Do I wish it was a little more curly than wavy? Sure, yeah. But I think it's just because I haven't had enough patience to figure out how to get it like the salon did with the blow drier. I would probably be happier with the actual hair style if I could get it like that every day the night before I go to sleep (and wake up with it, ready to go), but I also don't mind it like this! Just a mild texture that isn't too messy or hard to do :)

Thank you, Terra by Afloat! I visited the branch by Ala Moana, but they also have one now in Waialae on 10th Ave, and also (the original?) location in Japan! Apparently one in NY coming soon as well.

Terra by Afloat, Ala Moana
560 Pensacola St. #3,
Honolulu, HI 96814
(808) 596-2386


  1. Ohh my your hair looks gorgeous~ ^ - ^
    Such big and bouncy curls! ^ w ^


  2. I really love the results - looks good to me! But wow, you're hair is a lot longer when straight!! Ahaha! Really glad you finally got it after talking about it for eons.

    1. Haha I know right? How annoying was i??

  3. I love how your hair looks with the curls, but I also envy your straight hair (my hair isn't naturally straight). :p
    I honestly thought the process would've taken much longer. I had a straight perm before in high school, and it took 7 hours. .-.

    1. Thank you! I didn't hate my hair before (I'm actually surprised it's not worse after all the heat styling and hair coloring i do) but I'm happy for this change for now.
      And yeah the actual perm was very fast! The part that took a long time was the cut and then all the prep work! 7 hours is forever!

  4. Wow, thank you so much for sharing this *u* I've never heard about digital perms before but it looks amazing! I love how these curls look~ they look so subtle and cute ;A; I would definitely try this out oh my gosh, thank you!
    ~Kiyomi <3

    1. Np! I hope you get to try one if you want to!

  5. I've had a digital perm before! I love how loose and wavy the curls look but it really damaged my hair a lot, so I ended up just cutting my hair short after two months of having the perm. :/

    1. Yeah it definitely incurred some damage, but I think my hair is so thick that it doesn't bother me although it is a little dry. Besides that, I don't think it's more damaged than it was when I bleached it lol. Or after using my flat iron at 450degrees curling it every week haha. It definitely depends on your hair type previous to the perm.