We have to be honest: permed hair needs a lot of love and attention to prevent damage and frizz. The chemicals can weaken your hair and steal some of its shine. And after all the dollars you spent on getting your hair do, you want to make it last. Don’t fear — the secrets are all here! Learn how to maintain permed hair so it’s healthy, bouncy, and beautiful.
- What to do Before Your Perm
- How to Pick a Perm
- How to Maintain Permed Hair: What to do the First Week
- How to Maintain Permed Hair: Daily Tips
- How to Maintain Permed Hair: Picking the Best Products
What to do Before Your Perm
“If your hair is too damaged, then we wouldn’t recommend a perm,” says Los Angeles based hairstylist Julianne Cho. That’s because perms require three steps that can stress out your hair: breaking down the inner bonds with chemicals, reshaping it with rods, and then treating it so it holds that shape.
So, the best foundation for a beautiful perm is strong, healthy hair. Here’s what you can do:
- Prep your hair a few weeks before. Use hair masks and strengthening shampoos to bring your hair into top condition. Three days before your salon appointment, apply a nourishing hair mask.
- Consider growing out your hair. Experts say that “virgin” hair that hasn’t been exposed to other chemical treatments holds perms better.
- Don’t apply any hair products the day before a perm. Masks, conditioners, serums and styling products can leave residue that can affect your perm.
- Talk to your hairstylist. Be honest about your last treatments, and whether you’ve been coloring your hair at home. He can tell you if it’s safe to get a perm, or if you need to wait.
How to Pick a Perm
Do you want loose waves or cute ringlets? Do you want just a little bit of volume and bounce, or do you want well-defined curls? Bring lots of pictures so you can explain exactly what you want.
How to Maintain Permed Hair: What to do the First Week
You have to give your curls time to “set”, so here’s what you need to do in the first days after your appointment.
Wait 48 hours before washing your hair
Fight greasiness with a good dry shampoo! Apply it right before going to bed, so it has time to soak up excess oils. (Read more tips on the best way to use dry shampoo.)
Wait 72 hours before swimming
Both chlorine and saltwater can wreck your fresh perm. Hairstylist Sally Jameson advises avoiding swimming for 3 days to a week. “Even later, you’ll want to protect permed hair. Apply conditioner or a hair oil before you swim — it will act like a shield and prevent the water from penetrating your hair — and wear a swimming cap.”
Stay away from accessories for a week
Don’t use tight elastics or clips for 48 hours. “Even the most basic hairstyles or hair accessories can potentially cause your perm to break or set in a unwanted shape,” says celebrity hairstylist Sascha Breuer. If you really need to tie your hair, use a scarf or a soft scunchie.
Use your fingers or a wide comb for a week
Give your brush a break. To avoid straightening your hair, use your fingers to remove tangles or scrunch the curls into place. If you have a lot of stubborn tangles, use a wide-tooth comb.
Sleep with a scarf
At bedtime, wrap your hair in a silk scarf. This can protect your perm and prevent frizz.
Avoid chemical treatments for a month
Never get a hair color and a perm at the same time. You don’t want to overload your hair with chemicals! Hairstylists also recommend waiting 4 to 6 weeks before getting any other salon treatment that can disrupt your perm.
How to Maintain Permed Hair: Daily Tips
Wash your hair twice or thrice a week
Here’s how to wash permed hair. First, only shampoo twice or thrice a week. Use cold or lukewarm water. If you love hot showers, protect your hair with a shower cap.
Second, choose a shampoo and conditioner for curly hair, and gently massage into the scalp. Avoid rubbing your hair too much, which can cause split ends or frizz.
Third, condition before you shampoo. The conditioner penetrates the strands better, and the shampoo prevents build-up and greasiness.
Here are some of the best shampoos and conditioners for permed hair:
Tsubaki Botanical Moist & Manageable Conditioner. Fight damage and frizz with royal jelly, soy protein and camellia oil. $14.90, Watsons and selected supermarkets.
Pantene Pro V Curl Perfection. Contains panthenol, a vitamin B complex that strengthens your hair. $11.74, Amazon SG.
Vernon Francois Curl Command Shampoo. This won a Marie Claire beauty award for best shampoo for curly hair. It has luxe formula of Mongongo, coconut and Baobab oils, and refreshing grapefruit and ginseng fragrance. $37, Sephora.
Look for products that replenish hair proteins
Perms break the protein bonds in your hair, so you need to repair the damage and strengthen your strands from the inside out. Here are some great picks:
Kevin Murphy Leave-In Repair Treatment. This contains proteins from green pea, jojoba seed oil. $55, HeraBeauty.
Aveda Be Curly Curl Enhancer. It sets your curls and conditions with a nourishing boost of wheat protein and organic aloe. $49, Tangs.
Briogeo Curl Charisma. Avocado oil hydrates and strengthens your hair, while mollis leaf and tomato fruit extracts help prevent frizz. It’s free of harmful chemicals like sulphates and is 98% naturally derived. “Refines my curls. Love the smell too. Worth the price since you don’t need a lot even if you use every day or every other day,” says one review. $32, Sephora.
Avoid heat styling
Permed hair is more prone to split ends and other hair damage. It’s better to air dry your hair, or if you are going to use a blow dryer, use the diffuser attachment and heat protectants. You can try:
Wella EMEI Thermal Image Spray. Celebrity hairstylist Sascha Breuer personally recommends this for permed hair. The spray works on two fronts: creating a protective barrier that holds up against extreme heat and smoothening hair follicles to prevent frizzing so that your curls stay healthy and glossy.” $23.90, OzCosmetics.
Christophe Robin Luscious Curl Cream. The fatty acids in flaxseed oil nourishes the hair, while moringa extract shields your strands from heat, pollution and colour oxidation. It also helps hold your curls while preventing frizz. $50, Sephora.
How to Maintain Permed Hair: Picking the Best Products
One of the most important ways how to maintain permed hair is to choosing the right products.
Read the labels
Watch out for ingredients that can damage permed or curly hair.
- Alcohol dries out hair and makes it brittle and frizzy
- Silicones are a lot like plastic: they add shine, but seal out water and air so your hair can’t “breathe.” Silicones can also weigh down your hair, so your curls lose their bounce. They’re sometimes listed as dimethicone,
- Sulfates strip moisture from your hair.
In this Youtube video where BiancaRenee today take you to the supermarket beauty aisle and show you how to compare shampoos and read the labels.
Get a curl enhancer or curl cream
Curl enhancers help fight frizz and hydrates and shapes your hair. Apply after rinsing, raking through your hair with your fingers. This helps get rid of tangles and distributes the product evenly. “Scrunch” your curls with your hands and leave it set. Check out this video tutorial on how to use curl cream to enhance your curls.
How to brush permed hair
No more frizz and tangles! Use a wooden-wide tooth comb when your hair is damp. Once your hair is almost dry, apply your styling product and work your hands through your hair. Gently go through your hair one last time with a paddle brush, which will help stimulate hair oils and keep your hair shiny.