Everything You Need to Know Before Getting a Perm in 2020

Do you want curls? You've come to the right place. 

If you weren’t aware, let us inform you now: Perm hairstyles are back and better than ever! A perm, or “permanent wave,” entails the use of heat and chemicals to re-bond the hair structure into a different shape—in this case, a curl or a wave. Permed hairstyles of today show a happy compromise between texture and restraint. While the OTT, first-generation perms showcased a blatant disregard for hair type, facial structure or general upkeep, i.e. not brushing your hair at all—remember that insane tip?—these permed hair ideas look and feel softer, are sexier and more wearable and are definitely more flattering. Scroll down for a collection of some of our favorite perms and some tips to ensure that your perm lasts!

1. Body Wave Perm

getting a perm body wave
Perfect for those looking for a more relaxed perm style.

Women who seek some movement in their poker-straight hair tend to go for body wave perms. This slightly wavy and loose curl style is achieved with the help of larger perm rods.

2. Spiral Perm

perm hairstyles: spiral perm
Tightly coiled and sultry from a traditional perm.

This set of tight curls resembles corkscrews. To achieve this kind of style, hair is set with a small perm rod. Generally, this method is widely used on shorter hair lengths, resulting in a kinkier look.

3. Spot Perm

perm hairstyles spot perm
Perm your bottom lengths to switch up your texture. Photo credit: Craig Alexander

Some women prefer a curly look reminiscent of 1930s glamour curls, in which the ends are the only part of the hairstyle that are curled. Spot-perming allows you to achieve these vintage-inspired hairdos with tight or loose curls or a mixture of both.

4. Pin-Curl Perm

perm hairstyles pin curls
Try a brushed out pin curl style.

This rod-less style is achieved by creating pincers with the help of bobby pins to secure them in place. This is an example of a style that doesn’t need a perm solution to activate the curls. Some like to get a wavy hairstyle from the pin curl perm. Simply brush out the curls for a smooth and wavy finish.

5. Volumizing Perm

perm hairstyles volumized
You can achieve voluminous curls from a perm.

Looking to add some lift? Try a volumizing perm. On fine hair, this particular method is ideal for giving your hair a thicker and fuller appearance. This style can be achieved on medium to longer hair lengths to create a long soft loose curl or wave. Pump up the volume even further with a few spritzes of TIGI Copyright Custom Complete Volume Finishing Spray.

6. Multi-Textured Perm

perm hairstyles multi-textured
This perm style is very natural and works great for long lengths. Photo credit: Craig Alexander

To achieve a curly hairstyle that leans more towards the natural-looking side, a multi-textured perm is the way to go. Typically, this method is favored on women with long hair because the results are less defined.

7. Perm Curls on Natural Hair

perm hairstyles natural hair
Enhance your natural curls with a perm. Photo credit: Arianna Sharfman

On hair that’s naturally curly, perm rods can be used to play around with different curl patterns sans chemical solutions. Many natural girls with kinkier hair textures love to get in on loose curl action too. With medium-sized perm rods, the hair is set with the help of styling gel or mousse. On the other hand, those with a looser curl may want to style their hair with a tighter coil, so the hair is set with perm rods that are smaller.

8. Perms on Color-Treated Hair

perm hairstyles colored hair
You can achieve bouncy curls with a perm.

Whether you have highlights, an ombré or a full dye job, a set of curls helps your color stand out even more. That’s not to say you should be getting these treatments done on the same day, as it’s not safe to do so! Style hair with small or big perm rods to get a tight curl or sexy body waves.

9. Vintage Waves

perm hairstyles with finger waves
A chic style for going out that’s all about that wave. Photo credit: Indigitalimages.com

Create retro finger-waves with small perm rods. This hairstyle is great for a vintage-themed function. Hair is wrapped around the perm rods in a spiral motion to create tight and sultry waves.

10. Stacked Perm

perm hairstyles stacked
Create new lengths with a perm. Photo credit: Craig Alexander

To create layered waves minus the use of scissors, opt for a stacked perm. This perm gives hair the appearance of layered waves. Using small, medium or large perm rods, sultry layers are created within the hair resulting in movement and body, especially on hair that’s all one length.

11. Ducktail Perm

perm hairstyles for short hair: ducktail
The ducktail style is a vintage rockabilly/greaser look that’s regaining ground today. Photo credit: Suzanne Cohen Photography

This vintage short hair perm is a throwback to the sassy greaser look of the 1950s, where hair was combed back on each side to form a V-shape at the back of the head (resembling, you guessed it, a duck’s booty). This styled look is best recreated on natural curls or tightly permed hair and looks awesome with the front fringe area slightly rolled over past the forehead. A gel, like Emerge Style Goals Gel, helps control frizz and get your edges defined.

12. Loose and Rounded

perm hairstyles: shag hair
Shags are a modern way to wear a permed hairstyle. Photo credit: Indigitalimages.com

Spinning off of last year’s major shag trend is the soft, rounded perm, which features short permed hair in a shinier finish. This look has smooth edges but lots of volume. And, yes, perm hairstyles with bangs totally work!

13. Blunt Bob

perm hairstyles on a lob
Soft and loose, a blunt-cut bob showcases the bounce of big curls the best. Photo credit: Indigitalimages.com

This cherubic take on short permed hairstyles definitely has quite the late ’80s/early ’90s vibe going on, what with its one-length shape and big, spirally ringlets. This look shines best on those with softer jawlines and relatively healthy strands. Frizz-fighting contour creams, such as The Good Stuff Curl Hydration Butter, can help give this look shape and protect it from the pouf.

14. Wedged Lob

perm hairstyles: wedge hairstyle
Cutting a perm straight across with little to no layering gives it a more bottom-heavy look. Photo credit: Dvora

Those with natural 3C or 4A curls can wear this look best (simply ask your stylist for a cut that falls straight near your collarbones) and style with some mousse, scrunched all throughout before drying with a diffuser.

15. Loose Curls and a Headband

perm hairstyles with a headband
Enhance your perm with a chic headband.

Opting for a perm with looser curls will make the growing out your hair process infinitely smoother when the time comes. Meanwhile, try matching your curls with a beaded headband for a loose bohemian vibe.

16. Perm with Hats

perm hairstyles with a hat
A classic fedora is always a good idea.

If you had a fedora stage in high school then you definitely aren’t alone. Grab your old favorite hat and use it as a way to protect your skin from the sun. Using a generous dollop of some mousse will help to define your curls as they peek out from under your hat.

17. Two-Textured

perm hairstyles two textured
Go for two different textures by putting your perm in an updo.

Create a two-textured look by creating a smoothed ponytail. Make sure there are no lumps and bumps. Your updo will look both sleek and curly and voluminous all in one look.

18. Floral Crown

modern perm styles blonde curls floral crown
This style is festival, party- and wedding-ready.

A colorful floral crown will always be a good choice in our book. Spray your curls with some hairspray before you place the crown on top of your head to make sure the crown doesn’t weigh your strands down and flatten your curls.

19. Chopped Bangs

perm hairstyles short bangs
Pair your perm style with blunt bangs. Photo credit: @erickinvisible

Add extra texture to your perm hairstyle with some choppy, cropped bangs. We love how this look plays with different lengths and adds a flirty curl.

20. Curly Bangs

perm hairstyles curly bangs
Adding bangs to your perm hairstyle is a must.

Adding bangs to your perm hairstyle creates a more complete look. We love how much volume and texture curly bangs add to the overall look.

perm hairstyles how to do a perm
We’ll walk you through the steps to getting a perm.

Leave the perming to a professional. You’ll get better results and personalized advice.  The process of getting a perm can take one to two hours and will generally follow these steps:

Consultation: Your 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 stylist washes and conditions your hair. Then, your stylist chooses the appropriate perm rod size based on your desired results.

Roll: Next, your stylist parts and wraps your hair 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.

Neutralizer application: Once the perm solution has developed, each rod will be rinsed with a neutralizer 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 neutralizer will be applied and left on for 2 more minutes. Your hair will be rinsed again with very warm water.

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

perm hairstyles maintenance
Not your average 80’s perm.

1. Immediate post-perm care

After leaving the salon after getting your hair permed is the most important time in your fresh perms’ life. It takes between 24 to 72 hours for the chemicals to fully activate and keep your curls intact. Do not wet or wash your hair for a day or two post-process. Because your curls are still malleable, you should also avoid brushing your hair or styling it any other way besides wearing it down. Don’t worry: All the precautions when you first get your perm ensures that you will have amazing hair for months to come.

2. Proper hair washing

When it is finally time to wash your hair, opt for a moisturizing shampoo formulated to help out your curls. TRESemmé Flawless Curls Shampoo will be able to clean your hair without damaging your new curl pattern. You should also train your hair to last longer in between washes. Using dry shampoo on your roots can help to leave you with clean looking hair in between washes.

3. Hair conditioning

Even the best perm process is going to damage your hair, at least a little bit, so you’ll need to be on top of keeping your hair conditioned. So after shampooing your hair, always follow up with conditioner, like TRESemmé Flawless Curls Conditioner. You should also use a conditioning hair mask at least once a week to keep your hair healthy and moisturized. A mask, like Suave Professionals for Natural Hair Anti-Breakage Mask, helps deep-condition your hair without weighing it down.

4. Dry your hair

When you are drying your hair you need to watch out for a few things. The first thing to consider is your towel. Yep: Your towel can give you a bad hair day. Opt for an old cotton tee, or a thin cotton scarf you no longer wear to squeeze the moisture out of your hair. Traditional towels can be too rough on chemically treated hair and can lead to frizz. When you have your hair damp you can let it air dry for the ultimate damage-free solution or blow-dry on a cool setting with a diffuser.

5. Know what to avoid

Firstly, it’s important to know that chemically changing your hair structure (like what happens when you get a perm or have your hair permanently straightened) can leave your hair prone to breakage. After you get your perm, it’s best to avoid heat-styling. Sun and swim can also do a number on your curls. When going out in the sun for a long period of time be sure to wear a big hat to protect your hair. Chlorine from a pool can also do damage. Most importantly, be sure to keep your hair dry, or if you are going under the water, wear a swim cap. Trust us, your new perm will thank you!

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