Everything You Need to Know Before Getting a Perm

From the costs to aftercare.

Short for ‘permanent hairstyle’, a perm is a treatment that uses chemicals and heat to alter the structure of your hair, leaving it permanently wavy, curly or straight, depending on your desired finish. Curly permed hairstyles were all the rage in the ’80s, because of the era’s obsession with big hairstyles. But like so many trends from this time, the hairstyle is back and better than ever.

Nowadays, permed hairstyles are wearable, natural-looking and a fun way to switch up your look. And thanks to the different types of perms, they now cater to a variety of hair needs, too. If you’re thinking about taking the plunge, here’s everything you need to know about getting a perm.

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Different Types of Perms

No matter your hair type or length, there’s a whole host of stunning of permed hairstyles you can opt for. Whether you want something subtle or statement, scroll down to see our top perm picks.

Loose Perm

Sophie Seddon with curly brown hair
Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Fine hair? Add extra body and movement to your mane with this loosely permed hairstyle.


Model with short curly brown hair
Credit: indigitalimages.com

Whether you have a pixie or a bob, there’s a permed look out there with your name on it.


Model with medium length light brown wavy hair
Credit: indigitalimages.com

Channel Flashdance vibes with these retro-perfect spiral curls.

Long Hair

Blake Lively with long blonde spiral curls
Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Proof that big, bouncy curls look amazing on long hair.

Editor’s tip: Get your curls into the spotlight with the help of TRESemmé Botanique Air Dry Curl Cream. This nourishing formula tames frizz, defines curls and gives them a healthy glow.


Alanna Arrington with short curly dark brown hair
Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

The secret behind perfect curls? Hair plopping, of course!


Lily Collins with long wavy chestnut brown hair
Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Wavy hair can be yours with this dazzling perm look.

Digital Perm

Alessandro Ambrosio with curly brown hair
Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Digital perms give you the option to transform straight hair into gorgeous, wavy locks.

Beach Wave

Miley Cyrus with blonde wavy hair with fringe
Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Who wouldn’t want to look a beach goddess 24-7? Learn how to master the perfect beach waves with our tutorial, now.

80s Perm

Sofi Dossi with curly brown balayage long hair
Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

’80s hair heroes like Cher, Sarah Jessica Parker and Whitney Houston, made this playful look trendy. Will you try it next?

Body Wave Perm

Chloe Moretz with long wavy blonde hair
Credit: indigitalimages.com

If there’s one look that’ll get the crowd talking, it’s this tousled hairstyle.

Loose Curl Perm

Julia Roberts wavy blonde long bob
Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

If you just want a subtle touch of curls, you should consider this relaxed hairstyle.

Modern Perm

Christina Hendricks with curly red hair and bangs
Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

The ‘80s were all about big voluminous curls, but if that’s not for you, try a modern perm for a more natural wave pattern. Bangs are optional but highly suggested.

Soft Perm

Sandrah Oh with curly brown hair with fringe
Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Often referred to as a body wave perm, this look is great for those who love a natural bouncy curl.

Fine Hair

Woman with blonde curly shoulder length hair
Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

If your fine hair struggles to hold curls after using a curling wand, a perm can fix that.

Straight Hair

Jourdan Dunn with straight relaxed hair
Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Straight perms are a popular choice for those with thicker hair textures who want a sleeker, smoother finish to their strands.


America Ferrera with shoulder length curly brown hair
Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Get this eye-catching look by asking your stylist to use smaller rods to achieve a tighter curl pattern.

Demi Wave

Katie Lee Joel with long brown wavy hair
Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Larger perm rods will help you achieve this luscious, subtle demi wave pattern.

Permed Bob

Julia Garner with curly blonde bob
Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

If anyone is going to convince us to try a permed bob, it’s Julia Garner.


Nathalie Emmanuel with curly brown hair
Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

With smaller rods, you can get beautifully defined coils worthy of the red carpet.


Katie Cleary with long brown wavy hair
Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Like the body wave, a partial look gives your hair gentle, natural-looking curls. Pair it up with balayage for extra stunning results.


Becca Dudley with curly pastel pink hair
Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Shag haircuts aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Will you give this rocker-babe look a go?

Big Perm

Hailee Steinfield with brown curly hair with bow
Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

As Dolly Parton once said: the bigger the hair, the closer to God.

Perm Before and After

The results of a perm obviously differ depending on your hair type, but if you want to get a rough idea of how the transformation process will end up looking, we’ve got you covered.


woman with straight hair before and permed curly hair after
Credit: Instagram.com/soraverly

In this example, this Instagram beauty’s hair goes from poker-straight to loosely permed. This a great way to give sleeker hair types more movement. Credit: @soraverly


woman with wavy hair before and after it has been permed
Credit: Instagram.com/casadantiga

If your waves aren’t looking as defined as they did before, you can give them a quick refresh with a loose curl perm. As the treatment grows out, the curls will relax and become more beachy. Credit: @casadantiga


woman with natural curly hair before and after is has been permed
Credit: Instagram.com/hairstalent

Tighter curl types that have no distinct curl pattern can encourage coils and enhance the look of their mane with a tight perm, like this. Credit: @hairstalent

Figure out your hair type with our quiz.

How Long Does a Perm Last and How Do I Make It Last Longer?

woman with blonde curly perm
Credit: Instagram.com/rose_bertram

After you get a perm, how long it lasts depends on how well you to take care of it and the length of your hair. For short-haired ladies, you can expect your look to last at least three to four months. If you’ve got longer hair, your look should last up to six months.

Wondering what you can do to extend the life of your permed hairstyle? Just have a look at our easy list. Credit: @rose_bertram

Get your hair cut more frequently – To keep your curls healthy, you’ll need to get them trimmed regularly, about every four to six weeks.

Wash and dry it properly – Thanks to Legally Blonde, we all know that the first rule of perm hair care is to not wet your hair 24 to 78 hours after getting it. But, when you do wash it, you need to pick the right shampoo (preferably, sulphate free ones!) and conditioner products.

You will also need to cut down on shampooing and increase your conditioning time, to keep your curls hydrated.

Target damage with protein treatments– Like any chemical hair service, the perming process does compromise the health of your hair. To get your tresses back into shape, invest in protein treatments.

Avoid chemical treatments – We suggest you wait at least a month or two before rushing to the salon to get another treatment done.

Sleep smartly – Nobody likes tangled, frizzy hair. Avoid this by wrapping your hair in a scarf or sleeping on a silk pillowcase.

For more information on permed hair care, check out the article below.

How Much Does a Perm Cost in the UK?

woman getting her hair assessed by a hair stylist
Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

The cost of a perm varies depending on which salon or stylist you go to, but generally you can expect to pay anywhere between £70 to £300. The length and texture of your hair will also impact the price.

How to Do a Perm

woman getting her washed in a salon
Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

You may be tempted to do a perm on yourself, but we highly suggest you leave it to a professional, as you’ll get better results and personalised advice.  The process of getting a perm can take one to two hours and will generally follow these steps:

Consultation – You hair will be assessed. If it is damaged, it will be given an intensive conditioning treatment. If it isn’t, the perming process will begin right away.

Prep –  Your hair will be washed and conditioned. Then, your stylist will choose the appropriate perm rod size based on your desired results.

Roll – Next, your hair will be parted and wrapped around the rods.

Perm solution application – Then, a perm solution will be applied to each rod and left on for 10 to 30 minutes to develop.

Neutraliser application – Once the perm solution has developed, each rod will be rinsed with a neutraliser solution and left on for an extra 5 minutes, to help set your mane’s new shape.

Rod removal – The rods will be removed, then more neutraliser will be applied and left on for a further 2 minutes. Your hair will be rinsed again in very warm water.

Styling – Finally, your hair will be styled to your chosen finish.

Best Shampoos for Perms

It is important to use the right products for your perm, as it will help make it last longer. So, if you want to know what the best shampoos for perms are, keep reading.

TRESemmé Colour Shineplex Shampoo

What makes the TRESemmé Colour Shineplex Shampoo great for permed hair, is the fact it is sulphate free. It will gently cleanse your hair without stripping it of its natural oils.

TONI&GUY Damage Repair Shampoo

There is no doubt that perming your hair will leave it damaged, but you can build up your hair’s strength with the TONI&GUY Damage Repair Shampoo.

Love Beauty And Planet Happy & Hydrated Shampoo

If you have curly permed hair, you can nourish and moisturise it with the vegan-friendly Love Beauty And Planet Happy & Hydrated Shampoo.


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