Want hair like Duchess Kate? New ‘digital perm’ making waves

You can get Duchess Kate's effortlessly voluminous hair (shown here on Nov. 2, 2011 in Copenhagen, Denmark). Indigo / Getty Images Contributor

If there were a sexiest hair of the year award, the Duchess of Cambridge would be a front-runner. Now it seems that we can all have her flowing locks – with a trip to the hairdresser. Digital perms, which have been trendy in Japan and Korea for years, are now gaining popularity in the West.

Forget the frizzy poodle curls from the ‘80s. Unlike those treatments, which use cold chemicals and no heat, the digital perm uses a chemical process along with thermal rollers to change the shape of the hair. It results in soft, large waves that require little more than a roll around your fingers or a quick dry with a diffuser.

“This look is so popular among celebrities right now and we have seen a real uptick in the number of women asking for this style,” Christian Toth of London’s Eleven Hair salon told TODAY.

After receiving numerous requests from customers for loose curls, Toth went in search of beauty treatments during a trip to Japan, and was the first salon in London to offer this one.

“This makes hair softer and shinier and means no more curling irons and hairdryers,” said Toth, whose salon is now giving digital perms to up to four women a day.

Like any hair treatment, the process can go awry. First, Toth said, find an experienced salon. He also cautioned against the treatment for women with bleached or heavily processed hair. And while reviews online are mainly positive, some say the treatment either didn't work or that it damaged their hair.

"...Digital perms are not worth it: apart from my money and time, my hair is now completely straight... Not to mention, my hair is now full of chemicals from root to tip, so I have to be extra careful not damaging it further," writes Renee on her blog,

Looking like a celebrity doesn't come cheap: the treatment costs around £250, or $400, at Toth’s salon, and prices in the U.S. run around $200. Digital perms are available at many Japanese and Korean salons – Boston's Hair Adventure says the treatment is their most popular.

Before: Straight hair is ready for the Duchess Kate treatment. Hair Expert Distribution
The digital perm uses a chemical process along with thermal rollers to change the shape of the hair. Hair Expert Distribution
The treatment helps customers achieve loose, bouncy waves. Hair Expert Distribution
After: Voila! Bouncy and full hair at one's fingertips. Hair Expert Distribution

Rachel Elbaum is a London-based writer who loves royal watching.

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