17 Types of Perm Hairstyles to Try and Perm Maintenance Tips

All Things Hair | 12 March 2019
perm hairstyles: wedge hairstyle

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 rebond 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 (not to mention safer for the ozone layer!). Scroll down for a collection of some of our favorite perms and some tips to ensure that your perm lasts!

Top Perm Hairstyles To Try

1. Body Wave Perm

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.

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

2. Spiral Perm

This set of tight curls resemble 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

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-esque hairdos with tight or loose curls or a mixture of both.

4. Pin Curl Perm

This rodless 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. Pile curls onto hair with the help of a styling gel, styling lotion or mousse to create hold and result in a durable set of curls. Some like to get a wavy hairstyle from the pin curl perm. Simply brush out the curls for a smooth and wavy finish.

perm hairstyles with volume
You can achieve voluminous curls from a perm.

5. Volumizing 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.

6. Multi-Textured Perm

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

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.

perm hairstyles: loose waves
You can achieve bouncy curls with a perm.

8. Perms on Color-Treated Hair

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.

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

9. Vintage Waves

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

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.

Permed Hairstyles for Short Hair

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

11. Ducktail Perm

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 TRESemmé Flawless Curls Defining Gel helps to control frizz and get your sides information.

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

12. Loose and Rounded

Spinning off of last year’s major shag trend is the soft, rounded perm, which features short permed hair in a shinier finish. The curls themselves are bigger and looser and are best maintained with a curl definer. And, yes, perm hairstyles with bangs totally work!

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

13. Blunt Bob

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 Bed Head by TIGI Foxy Curls Contour Cream, can help give this look shape and protect it from the pouf.

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

14. Wedged Lob

Don’t worry—this oh-so-classic iteration’s 1980s references stop here. For purists who have a soft spot for the tight, electric-coil shape that hit it big in the Decade of Excess, rest assured that today’s wedge perms for short hair may actually be worn free of the tangles and product overload of before. 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.

Modern Perm Hairstyles with Accessories

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

15. Loose Curls and a 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.

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

16. Perm with Hats

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.

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

17. Floral Crown

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.

Perm Hairstyle Maintenance 101

curl hair with perm
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 at least 24 hours (and up to 72 hours) for the chemicals that are used to keep your curls intact to fully work. Therefore you can’t get your hair wet, let alone 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. The 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 a dry shampoo in 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 the TRESemmé Flawless Curls Conditioner. You should also use a conditioning hair mask at least once a week to keep your hair healthy and moisturized. The Dove Quench Absolute Intense Restoration Mask will deep condition your hair without weighing down your locks.


4. Dry your hair.

When you are drying your hair you need to watch out for a few things. 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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