Wavy Perm Hairstyles: What You Need to Know Before Getting One

Forget the poodle perm, say hello to the wavy perm!    

Bored of your straight strands? Try not to get too excited here, but what would you say if we had just found a way you could rock waves every day, without having to style it? Let us introduce you to – the wavy perm.

If the only perms you’ve ever seen are the crazy curls from the ’80s, don’t be scared off as they’ve come a long way since then. Perming is having a comeback in the form of the beach wave perm and we’re totally on board. Because let’s be real here, who wouldn’t want to wake up with beachy waves every day?

What’s the Difference Between a Regular Perm and a Wave Perm?

Traditional perms produce defined spiral curls by wrapping the hair around smaller individual rods for tight, uniform curls. With a wave perm, the hair is wrapped around larger rods to produce looser waves for a more relaxed result.

How Long Do Beach Wave Perms Last?

A beach wave perm usually lasts between 3 and 6 months, but this can vary depending on how well you care for it and what your natural hair pattern is like.

Can I Get a Wavy Perm?

One of the pros of wavy perms is that they can work well on hair of different lengths and textures. While coarse, thick hair is generally seen as best suited for perming, that’s not to say that those with fine hair can’t also try them – we recommend talking to your hairstylist for a consultation before booking in to discuss your hair’s suitability.

However, it’s important to note that as getting a perm is quite an intensive chemical process, it’s not recommended for those with hair that has already been dyed, bleached or chemically straightened hair. In fact, many salons will actually refuse to carry out the treatment on processed hair because of the risk of damage, so it’s best to do it on virgin (aka untreated) hair.

14 Easy Beach Wave Perm Hairstyles

Get all the wavy perm inspiration you need, below.

Tousled perm

Woman with a wavy permed brunette bob with a fringe
Even the straightest of strands can be transformed with a wavy perm. Credit: Instagram.com/benson.hair

Stars like Alexa Chung and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley are big fans of the tousled hair trend, working their natural waves to the max. However, if you’re not naturally blessed with a wavy texture, you can fake your way to textured tresses with an undone wave perm. Credit: @benson.hair

Spiral perm

Selfie of a woman with long dark spiral wavy permed hair.
Wave goodbye to boring hair with these stunning spiral waves! Credit: Instagram.com/msmiyakodesu

Do you find that when you tong your hair the curls drop out too quickly? Opting for a semi-permanent wavy perm instead will ensure that your curls go the distance and always look bouncy and full of life. Credit: @msmiyakodesu

Amped-Up Bob

Brunette woman with a curly permed bob
Plump up shorter cuts with voluminous waves. Credit: Instagram.com/hairby.clarissa

These full-bodied waves should be at the top of your mane wish list, as they’re appropriate for both day and night. Even after you’ve washed your hair, the curls will spring right back into place, so your hair will look great no matter what life throws at you. Credit: @hairby.clarissa

The ’80s Perm

Brunette model with her hair in 80s curly perm waves and wearing a black Metallica logo tee
Take your look back in time with this ’80s-inspired beach wave perm. Credit: Instagram.com/audreyanamichelle

Make like Madonna and channel your inner ’80s wild child with a beach wave perm. But you can banish any preconceived notions of retro styles here, because instead of the tight coils of days gone by, the contemporary way to work the look is loose and carefree! Credit: @audreyanamichelle

Editor’s tip: To ensure your curls stay full and defined (but not frizzy), we recommend investing in a hair mousse, like the TRESemmé Extra Control Salon Finish Mousse and scrunching it through your lengths after washing.

Kinky Perm

Selfie of a girl with brunette kinky permed hair with her hand in her hair
Crimped hair is back, people! Credit: Instagram.com/jessica_mallery

If you’ve ever worn your hair in braids overnight, you’ll know that it leaves your hair with a gorgeously crimped effect. Now, how great would it be to wake up with perfectly kinky strands every day?! Enter: the kinky body wave perm.

This gives you that just-braided look, which is also perfect if you’re not yet a perm pro and don’t want to go for such full-on curls on your first try.  Credit: @jessica_mallery

Natural Movement

Woman with long dark brown wavy permed hair wearing a lilac tshirt
Like your curls to look natural? Ask your stylist to incorporate different curl shapes and sizes. Credit: Instagram.com/hairbyelliev

Rather than looking like you’ve actually curled your hair with a curling wand, opt for bespoke waves that mimic a natural curl pattern. This way, nobody will even have an inkling that it’s not real. Credit: @hairbyelliev

Coloured Perm

Back view of a woman with long silver grey permed curly hair
Going grey never looked so chic! Credit: Instagram.com/brooch_mia

Fan of colouring your hair? Having permed hair doesn’t mean that you can’t colour your hair. In fact, as long as you leave enough time between the colouring and perming processes (to limit damage), a perm can help to add definition and dimension to your hue, making it look even fresher!

We’re loving this Instagrammer’s chic silver-tinted tones – would you dare to go grey?! Credit: @brooch_mia

Amped-Up Bob

Woman with lob length wavy permed blonde hair with a fringe, wearing a patterned blazer, white t-shirt and jeans
Complete your look with a fresh set of bangs! Credit: Instagram.com/_z_23_k_

We’ll be the first to tell you that bangs are a super flattering addition to any look. If you’ve got (or want to get) a fringe cut in, you’ll be happy to hear that a wavy perm will only make your fringe look even cuter. Credit: @_z_23_k_

Shaggy Bob

Brunette with a short shaggy wavy perm bob with a fringe, standing in front of a blue backdrop
The bob of the season is shaggy, soft and curly. Credit: Instagram.com/kit_mcelroy

All this time we’ve been wondering how the cool girls of Instagram were getting their perfect wavy crops and now we know their secret – perms! If anyone needs us, we’ll be swooning over this beauty’s painfully chic shag cutCredit: @kit_mcelroy

Beach Wave Perm

Brunette woman in a salon chair with long wavy permed hair
Ride the wave this summer with a beach wave perm! Credit: Instagram.com/cocothehairslayer

As opposed to separate, individual curls, a beach wave perm produces flowing, mermaid-like waves. Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s a beach wave perm (probably the latter!) Credit: @cocothehairslayer

Editor’s tip: For waves like Ariel‘s, make sure to use a serum on your hair to combat any frizz and keep your strands looking gorgeously glossy. The TONI&GUY Shine Gloss Serum is ultra lightweight and can be used on dry hair, so it’s perfect for taming flyaways at any time of the day!

Bedhead Waves

Woman with shoulder length dark brown wavy permed hair
We don’t know about you, but we’d never have guessed this was a perm. Credit: Instagram.com/makimakhair

If polished hair isn’t your vibe, you can go for a more lived-in, bedhead look. This will help give off the message to everyone around that you don’t even have to bother with your hair, it just looks this good as soon you roll out of bed. Credit: @makimakhair

Blow-Dry Effect

Selfie of a woman with dark brown hair with a digital perm
Now it’s actually possible to get that salon-fresh blowout look every day! Credit: Instagram.com/salon_of_the_day

There’s nothing more satisfying than that fresh-out-the-salon hair feeling. And now you can have it every day – no stylist needed – with a modern digital perm. We told you this wasn’t your nana’s perm! Credit: @salon_of_the_day

Subtle Perm

Double reflected photo of a woman with loosely permed bob length brunette hair with a side parting
You don’t have to go crazy with the curls to rock a perm. Credit: Instagram.com/hairbymillicent

If the get-up-and-go convenience of a wavy perm appeals to you, but you’re not sure that super curly curls will suit you, then there are definitely more subtle variations that you can try.

A loose, undone wave perm (like the one above) will give flat locks heaps of luscious texture, without having to commit to full-on curls. But be warned, it’s addictive! Credit: @hairbymillicent

Wavy Perm with Side-Swept Bangs

Woman with a copper wavy permed graduated bob
Cut down your morning styling time with permanent waves. Credit: Instagram.com/thehairparlourkc

Draw attention to a side-sweeping fringe with a face-flattering, softly curled wave perm. It’s a versatile option as side fringes suit a wide range of face shapes, so it’ll look great on pretty much everyone. Credit: @thehairparlourkc

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