Perm 101: What You Need to Know Before Perming Your Hair

Joining the curly crew isn’t as easy as it seems. Keep these in mind before heading to the salon for a perm!

Perming your hair is like entering a long-term relationship. Not only will you be committing to sporting a head full of curls daily for the next few months, but you’ll also have to work hard to take extra care of your new hairdo.

Permed hair your hair seems deceptively low-maintenance, but it can be a pain to maintain especially if your locks aren’t at their healthiest. If you want curls that stay soft and bouncy (as opposed to dry and crunchy), you need to prepare properly. Read this before you even consider heading to the salon for a perm:

Assess your hair first.

Messy ponytail: Asian woman with long black hair wearing a plaid polo shirt against a blue background
It’s always best to start with healthy hair. Credit: Hariono Halim

Let’s not sugarcoat things: Perming can wreak havoc on your hair. Since your mane will be exposed to high heat and chemicals for a few hours, there’s a high chance your hair can get dry and brittle. Consult your hairstylist first to know if your hair can handle a perm, especially if you have sensitive, thin, or damaged hair.

Make sure your hair is in top shape before perming it.

Flipped-out short bob: Asian woman with short black hair wearing a yellow dress against a blue background
Say hello to bouncy and healthy locks when you use a nourishing shampoo and conditioner. Credit: Hariono Halim

Your hair needs to be healthy if you want your curls to turn out beautifully. Untreated hair tends to hold a perm best. If your hair is color-treated, dry, or damaged, you might want to postpone your perm plans for a month or two to let your locks recover.

Editor’s tip: A hair repair mask like Cream Silk Triple Keratin Rescue Ultimate Repair & ShineTreatment Crème can speed up your hair’s recovery—it replenishes the lost moisture in your hair and penetrates each strand to revive it from damage. 

Wash your hair sparingly.

Perm hair: Asian woman with colored permed hair, wearing a yellow top, smiling
Right after the treatment, your perm hair care begins. Credit: Shutterstock

You can’t wash your hair after getting a perm…at least, not for two to three days after leaving the salon. Your new waves need ample time to set, and shampooing your hair prematurely can wash away the treatment, making your hair relax faster.

Editor’s tip: While we’re on the subject, you should also keep your succeeding shampoos to a minimum. Washing permed hair often can strip your locks of its natural oils, making your hair dry and dull. Try to shampoo permed hair only once or twice a week, and use TRESemmé Instant Refresh Dry Shampoo on your roots in between washes to remove buildup and residue.

You can’t have chemical treatments immediately after getting a perm.

Perming: An Asian girl in a denim jacket showing off her perm hair
Give your hair a break after perming. Credit: Hariono Halim

So, your hairstylist just finished perming your hair and it looks ah-mazing. Since you’re already at the salon anyway, you might as well have your hair colored to emphasize your new waves, right? WRONG. Coloring your hair before or after your perm will make your hair too damaged, resulting in dry curls and brittle strands.

Here’s another scenario: You just had a perm but didn’t like how your ringlets turned out, so you ask your hairstylist if you could have your hair relaxed while you’re still in the salon. That’s a major no-no! Contrary to what the treatment’s name suggests, relaxing your hair will just make your newly permed locks more stressed, resulting in very damaged strands. If you really can’t stand your new curls, you can shampoo your hair earlier to lessen the waves. Asking for a short, sleek haircut will work, too!

You’ll need a whole new arsenal of hair products.

Asian woman with short curly hair with bangs wearing a white top and denim skirt smiling
Command attention with impeccable curls. Credit: Hariono Halim

Permed hair needs special attention. The shampoo and conditioner you’re currently using might not cut it, as you have to look for products that can nourish and moisturize your curls.

Editor’s tip: Switch to a gentle shampoo like Dove Nourishing Oil Care Shampoo which is formulated with Advanced Nutri-Oils that nourish your hair without leaving a greasy feeling. Follow it up with Dove Nourishing Oil Care Conditioner. Apply it first on the ends of your hair going up to your roots, then use warm water to rinse it out completely.

Styling your curls can be tricky.

Hair mousse for curly hair
Hair mousse for curly hair is one of the easiest styling products to use! Credit: Shutterstock

Curly hair gives off a carefree vibe, but achieving that effortless look requires switching up your hairstyling techniques. Avoid blow dryers and hair irons, as these can further damage your hair. Instead, gently scrunch your hair while it air dries to get soft waves.

Editor’s tip: Use VO5 Extra Body Mousse to add body and bounce to your curls. And you should not, under any circumstances, use a brush on your hair (unless you want a halo of frizz on your head!). Detangle your hair while it’s wet using either your fingers or a wide-tooth comb.

Try simple hairstyles for your curly hair.

Asian woman with curly hair in a pineapple ponytail smiling
Try the pineapple ponytail on your curly hair. Credit: Natasha Estelle

We try to avoid bad hair day as much as we can, but there are days when it is inevitable. If your permed hair is misbehaving and you just want to put it up, try the pineapple ponytail. It’s one of the easiest hairstyles for short curly hair so it’s perfect for curly bobs and lobs. For long curly hair, wearing a bandana can keep your hair in place.

Wear a hair clip to jazz up your curls.

Perm 101: Asian woman with long curly hair smiling and wearing a plum colored dress
A down ‘do with a one-sided clip is perfect for a date. Credit: Hariono Halim

If you permed your long hair, you can glam up by wearing hair clips. Try the side-sweep hairstyle with an elegant hair clip on one side if you’re gunning for a sweet and romantic look. To control frizz, apply mousse on your hair before styling or a drop of leave-on cream if you’re simply freshening up in the middle of the day.

Perming your hair shouldn’t be a nerve-wracking experience. Prepare for it properly, and you’ll emerge from the salon with a head of lush, gorgeous curls. Don’t forget to use the right products to maintain your new waves!



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