Woman with permed wavy hair

Everything You Need to Know About Getting a Perm

Perms, in all their forms, are making a comeback. And we’re not complaining.

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.

You may think of the ’80s when it comes to permed hairstyles – they were big, bold and beautiful. Nowadays, permed hairstyles are a little more natural-looking, depending on your desired finish, and a fun way to switch up your look. Celebrities like Blake Lively and Cara Delevingne are fans of the wavy perm trend, while #permhair videos are generating over 160.2 million views on TikTok.

Thinking about taking the perm hair plunge? Here’s the lowdown on all things perms.

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Different Types of Perms

No matter your hair type or length, perms are here for everyone to enjoy. From subtle curls to straight locks, scroll down to see our top perm picks.

Loose Perm

Sophie Seddon with curly brown hair
Rock chick vibes. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

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


Model with short curly brown hair
Short hair doesn’t have to compromise in style. Credit: indigitalimages.com

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

A 200ml bottle of TRESemme Curl Mousse Front of Pack

Editor’s tip: For a glam and natural-looking styling, try TRESemmé Curl Definition Mousse – specially created to style without weighing your curls down, it will become your new favourite.


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

Channel your inner Flashdance vibe with these retro-perfect spiral curls.

Long Hair

Blake Lively with long blonde spiral curls
Strong curl game, Blake. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

This is your official proof that big, bouncy curls look amazing on long hair.

TRESemmé Freeze Hold Hairspray Front

Editor’s tip: Put your curls in the spotlight with the help of TRESemmé Freeze Hold Hairspray. This formula tames frizz, defines curls and gives them a long-lasting styling.


Alanna Arrington with short curly dark brown hair
Curly perm hair certainly stands out. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

The secret behind perfect curls? Hair plopping, of course! It gives you that curly perm look, without getting a perm. For bouncy and healthy locks, we love SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancer Smoothie – its formula will make you feel like you’ve just got out of the salon!

A front view of a SheaMoisture Coconut Hibiscus Curl Enhancer Smoothie container


Lily Collins with long wavy chestnut brown hair
You can’t go wrong with a wavy perm. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Wavy hair can be yours with a standout perm like this. You’ll be red-carpet ready in no time.

Digital Perm

Alessandra Ambrosio with curly brown hair
This hair do is absolutely gorgeous. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Digital perms are ones that use digitalised heat technology, like hot rods, to alter your hair’s structure. Get ready to transform straight hair into gorgeous, wavy locks.

Beach Wave

Miley Cyrus with blonde wavy hair with fringe
Summer starts here. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

If it’s your beach goddess era, opt for a beach wave perm that makes you look summery and sun-kissed all year round.

’80s Perm

Sofie Dossi with curly brown balayage long hair
Step into the ’80s. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

’80s hair heroes like Cher, Sarah Jessica Parker and Whitney Houston made this playful look trendy. So we’re here to tell you that it’s still as stylish today. Are you ready to give it a go?

Body Wave Perm

Chloë Grace Moretz with long wavy blonde hair
One word: slay. Credit: indigitalimages.com

Loose curls make for a chic, bouncy feel. And if there’s one look that’ll get the crowd talking, it’s this tousled hairstyle.

Trendy Perm

Christina Hendricks with curly red hair and bangs
A stunning look. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

The ‘80s were all about big, voluminous curls, but if that’s not for you, try a modern perm. Giving you more natural wave pattern, it’ll look like you simply woke up with hair this fabulous. Bangs are optional, but highly recommended.

Perm for Fine Hair

Woman with blonde curly shoulder length hair
Fine hair? No problemo. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

If your fine hair struggles to hold curls after using a curling wand, a perm can fix that. They look oh-so-natural and playful, don’t you think?

Straight Hair Perm

Jourdan Dunn with straight relaxed hair
A straight hair perm is a must. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

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

Tight Curl Perm

America Ferrera with shoulder length curly brown hair
What a look! Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

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

Demi Wave

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

Larger perm rods will help you achieve this luscious, demi wave pattern, meant to create an effortless everyday look.

Permed Bob

Julia Garner with curly blonde bob
Bobs + perms = BFFEs. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Perms and bobs are a match made in heaven, offering just the right amount of dimension and sass to your hair.

Partial Perm

Katie Cleary with long brown wavy hair
A great first step into the world of perming. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Only applied to your ends, a partial look gives hair gentle, natural-looking curls. Pair it up with balayage for super standout results.

Shaggy Perm

Becca Dudley with curly pastel pink hair
Pink perms are perfection. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

With different layers and a face-flattering shape, shaggy perms give you that bedhead vibe 24/7. It’s a yes from us.

Big Perm

Hailee Steinfield with brown curly hair with bow
We can’t stop obsessing over this look. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

The bigger, the better. Bold and brilliant, this perm look is perfect for those moments when you want to be centre-stage.

Perms Before and After

The results of getting a perm differ depending on your hair type, but if you want an idea of the transformation process, read on…


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

From poker-straight to loosely permed – a great way to give sleeker hair types more movement.


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.


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

Tighter curl types can opt for coils with a tight perm, like this.

How Long Does a Perm Last and can I Make it Last Longer?

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

The longevity of your perm depends on how well you to take care of it and the length of your hair. For short-hair beauties, you can expect your look to last at least three to four months. If you’ve got longer hair, your perm can last up to six months.

Here’s how to keep your perm in the best condition:

Get your hair cut frequently – To keep your curls healthy, you’ll need a regular trim every four to six weeks.

Wash and dry it properly – Don’t wet your hair 24-78 hours after getting your perm. But when you do wash it, you’ll want to pick the right shampoo and conditioner products. Top tip: sulphate-free products are a perm’s best friend.

You’ll also need to cut down on shampooing and increase your conditioning time, to keep your curls beautifully 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 waiting at least a month or two before rushing to the salon to get another treatment done.

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

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 – £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 suggest leaving it to a professional, as you’ll get better results and a 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’s damaged, it will be given an intensive conditioning treatment. If not, the perming process will begin.

Prep –  Next, it’s wash and conditioning time. Then, your stylist will choose the appropriate perm rod size based on your desired results.

Roll – 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 to develop for 10 – 30 minutes.

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.

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