Rules for After Getting a Perm

A perm is a quick way to add bouncy curls to straight hair. Perms can be pricy and time consuming, but care can increase the lifespan of your curls. Pay attention to your hair care routine to get the most out of your perm.

Proper maintenance can help a perm last longer. (Image: Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images)

Wash and Dry It Right

Right after you get a perm, you’ll need to wait 24 to 72 hours before washing it. Check with the stylist who permed your hair for a precise waiting period, because this might vary depending on your hair type and the type of perm. Once it’s time to wash, use warm water rather than hot because the heat can ruin your curls. Choose shampoo and conditioner designed specifically for permed hair to help protect the perm and keep your hair from getting too dry. Comb your hair with a wide-tooth comb while it’s still wet and conditioner is in the hair. This will help to prevent breakage from brushing. Do not rub your hair dry with a towel; instead, pat it down and let it air dry to prevent frizz.

Lay Off the Heat

Heat can be a perm's worst enemy, so while you’re trying to maintain your curls, avoid using heated styling tools that can damage the hair and loosen the perm. If you must use heated styling tools, apply a thermal protectant or conditioning product first. A diffuser attached to your blow dryer can also help protect permed hair. It disperses the air and doesn’t disturb the curl as much as regular blow-drying.

Use the Right Products

When it’s time to style your hair, choose styling products that are alcohol free to keep your permed hair from drying out. Look for moisturizing shampoos and conditioners that are specifically designed for permed hair. Give your hair a monthly deep conditioning treatment to keep it moisturized. Avoid using rubber bands for ponytails; instead, use fabric-covered bands to help prevent breakage.

Get It Trimmed

Part of keeping the curls in a perm is getting your hair trimmed regularly, about every four to six weeks. Trimming the hair will help the curls spring up and keep your hair looking healthy. Waiting too long to get your permed hair trimmed can cause the hair to become damaged; then when you do go in for a cut, more hair will need to be taken off, shortening the lifespan of your perm.

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