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!

A perm is like setting a “permanent hairstyle” into your hair. This hairstyle involves curls and waves that, although not exactly permanent, will last several months when done correctly. Perming your hair involves chemical means to set these curls. Traditional perms involve the use of perm rods to make your hair curly, but in perms today, other tools like fabric, hair rollers, or finger waves are also used, depending on the curl shape or wave you want.

Permed hair seems deceptively low-maintenance, but it can be a challenge 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:

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.

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.

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.

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!

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. Also, use products that are suitable for salon-treated hair so your regular wash-and-care routine won’t damage or undo your permed hair.

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.

How should I prepare for a perm?

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.

Editor’s tip: Use Dove Intense Repair 1 Minute Serum Conditioner to bring your back to its healthy-looking state. It has serum capsules that go deep within your hair to nourish and repair it from within. You can also use this conditioner in taking care of your permed hair. 

How will I know if I need to delay getting a perm?

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 & Shine Treatment 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. 

Can I wash my hair after getting a perm?

Asian woman with long curly hair wearing a pink dress
Washing your hair immediately after getting a perm is a big no-no! Credit: Dennie Ramon

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.

Can I get other chemical treatments while or 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!

What products should I use on my hair after getting a perm?

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. Also, use products that are suitable for salon-treated hair so your regular wash-and-care routine won’t damage or undo your permed hair.

Editor’s tip: Use TRESemmé Total Salon Repair Shampoo and TRESemmé Total Salon Repair Conditioner when you wash your permed hair. This duo has macadamia oil and ionic complex formula that helps in repairing damage, strengthening hair, and preventing hair fall. 

How should I style my permed hair?

Asian woman touching her short curly hair sitting in a living area
Use hair mousse to style your curly hair. Credit: Dennie Ramon

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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