Should I Get A Perm? Everything You Need To Know Before Going Curly
by BRENDA L. / NOV 18, 2022
Reading Time: 11 Minutes
Are you thinking of getting your hair permed? I get it: the natural bounce of glossy, wild curls is an alluring thought. If you found yourself thinking about undergoing the process of getting a hair perm, then let me shed some light on the whole journey for you.
1. How To Get A Perm
First things first, getting a perm isn’t a joke. Unlike a box-dye, you can’t simply go to your closest drugstore and buy yourself a kit. When getting any kind of chemical treatment, you should always go to a trained professional and get a (usually free) consultation before putting anything on your hair. Generally speaking, this is what the whole process of getting a perm at your salon would look like:
- Consultation: aka, your opportunity to speak to your stylist and discuss your hair journey, the desired destination and any previous steps that your tresses have gone through. It's essential that you are as descriptive as possible, to give your stylist a precise idea of what you would like. If possible, show some photo references about your desired results and be ready to discuss realistic expectations that may vary from your style of choice, based on your hair type and conditions.
- Prep: aalso known as the washing session, your stylist washes your hair, usually with a clarifying shampoo. Even if your hair isn't on the greasy side of things and you don't struggle with issues such as dandruff, this step is quite important to get a clean slate for your stylist to work on. Clarifying shampoo will remove any product build-up, sebum or other oils that would otherwise act as a barrier to the perm solution. Conditioner is also avoided in the pre wash stage for this same reason. Finally, they will select and prepare all the appropriate tools and rod size based on your desired results.
- Roll: this is where your curls start to form.
- Perm solution application: your stylist will apply a perm solution on each rod and leave it to develop. Depending on the type of perm you choose, other chemicals might be applied to your hair, such as a neutralizer.
- Rod removal and rinsing: your stylist will then proceed to rinse your hair and remove the rods. During this process, more neutralizer might be applied.
- Styling: the last step! Your stylist will now style your hair to your chosen finish.
2. How Expensive Is A Perm?
When you go to the salon and ask about hair perming, you can expect prices to be from around £70 to £300. This depends on the length and density of your hair, and obviously your salon and stylist of choice.
3. Different Types Of Perms
Technically speaking, there are many ways for you to get a perm, or a perm hairstyle. Remember the big, fluffy (and kinda dry-looking) glamster hair of the 80s? Things have changed quite a lot since then - and perms have become a lot more glamorous, becoming a staple hair care step in the lives of many people out there, including artists and celebrities.
A spiral perm is a popular choice for hair that’s shoulder-length or longer. To create the necessary movement that gives your strands the iconic spiral shape of this hairstyle (hence the name), your stylist will roll each strand vertically. You can customise this look by exploring different rod sizes, but generally speaking this type of curl is evenly tight and bouncy. A good spiral perm will last around six months before the curls start to loosen.
Body Wave Perm
Body wave perms are a popular choice for people who are looking to add natural volume and movement in their flat, spaghetti-straight hair. It works well on pretty much any length, and is particularly indicated to add some texture and waves to your mane without having to go full-curly. The body wave perm creates a gentle, relaxed movement in your look with large, loose waves using jumbo rollers. A body wave curl usually lasts between three to five months.
Beach Wave Perm
You know that cute, sea-salt-crimped hairstyle that you see on so many girls on the beach? Well, what if I told you that you don’t need to live on the seaside to get it? A Beach Wave Perm creates waves inspired by that same summerish look. In the recent years, beach waves (also known as mermaid waves) have been all the rage. Mermaid waves go a long way for when you want to channel your boho-chic vibes in a cute, minimal way. Stylists use soft, spongey rollers instead of traditional perm rods to get looser waves. A Beach Wave Perm will typically last about four months.
The digital perm is big in Japan, but soon enough its popularity has gone international - and it’s easy to see why. It’s a precision method that relaxes your hair in tighter or looser curls (depending on your desired results), leaving the rest to a specific machine that leaves no room for errors. The time it takes for the curls to set is also visible on a digital display (hence the name “digi perm“). Besides being the most technological treatment to achieve curls and waves, this type of perm also makes use of gentle chemicals used to minimise any damage to the hair structure where heat is applied. The curls achieved through this method last for six months to a year at a time.
Pin Curl Perm
The pin curl perm is an old-school classic. This curly perm works wonders on shorter hair lengths, using a combination of pins and curlers to create tight, bouncy curls that add movement to your hair. Again, you can customise the look by choosing how tight you want your curls to be. This type of perm doesn’t need strong chemicals, resulting in a gentle approach to your hair. Because of this, the style’s lifespan ranks amongst the shortest, usually around three to six months.
Spot Perm (Or Partial Perm)
Inspired by the glamour of the 1930s partial perm, this treatment focuses on intensely curled ends and soft, loose roots and mid-lengths. Other people use this process to treat the full length of a few strands, strategically placed around those areas where more volume is needed to get an even, big mane. Because it’s not a full-head treatment, its lifespan can vary.
Opposite to the spot perm, root perms are a type of hair perming that focuses on the roots, usually within the two to four inches from the scalp. Perming hair at the roots adds lift and dimension to your mane, creating the illusion of thicker hair. plus doing so at the base avoids damaging the rest of your hair if you’ve already permed it. Root perms are very low maintenance, but they also only last about a month meaning you’ll have to head back to the salon for regular touch-ups.
@nicolechangmin.raw Got myself a root perm and korean styled curtain bangs today! 🧖🏻♀️ #selfcare #hair #hairmakeover #rootperm #curtainbangs #koreanhairstyle #fyp ♬ Sam Kim Love Me Like That - Tik Toker
This type of hair perm utilises lots of different rods in different sizes to play a mix and match game of loose waves, tighter ringlets and bouncy curls. The idea behind this perm hairstyle is to achieve a curly do that looks wild and natural, for a grittier and edgy finish. Typically, this method works best on people with longer hair so that the depth and texture of each strand is less obvious.
Like for the root perm, depending on the combination you choose expect your results to last for a few months.
If you’re after some serious lift, a volumizing perm might just be what you’re looking for. If your hair leans towards the thin side of things, then this technique will change your hair game big time (pun intended), giving the impression of a full, thick and luscious mane by adding huge lift effect to your tresses. This type of perm can be used on people with medium to long hair, to create volumizing waves and soft, loose texture. If “go big or go home” is your motto, then you can turn the volume up even further with a few spritzes of your favourite volumizing products.
4. How To Prepare My Hair For A Perm?
You’ve found your style, you’ve found the stylist, you’ve booked your appointment. Now it’s time to get things done! Before you show up at the salon to get your curls done, make sure you follow these simple yet essential steps to prepare your hair for a perm, because let’s be honest: perming can wreak havoc on your hair.
- Nourish Your Hair: make sure your tresses get all the love you could give before undergoing the stressful process of getting permed. Use a sulphate-free, alcohol-free shampoo and conditioner, and apply a nourishing mask.
- Limit The Use Of Heat-Based Tools: if you’ve been overusing hair straighteners and curling wands there’s not much that you can do to repair that, but in case you haven’t, my best advice is to avoid any overheating that can lift and damage you hair’s cuticle.
5. Can Anyone Get A Perm?
Yes and no. Whilst your hair type is definitely a determining factor when setting realistic expectations in terms of getting your hair permed, it’s also important to make sure your hair is in the right condition. Simply put, your hair needs to be healthy in order to survive the perming process. If your hair is still suffering the consequences of excessive bleaching, dyeing or any other sort of chemical treatment (including previous perms and relaxers), a good hairdresser will always recommend to delay your perm until your tresses get back in shape. To be safe, if you already have bleached hair you should avoid perming on top as it will dry your hair out, potentially resulting in breakage.
6. Can I Wash My Hair After Getting A Perm?
Nope! You can’t wash your hair after getting a perm for two to three days after the treatment. Your new waves need a lot of time to set properly, and shampooing your hair right after getting a perm can wash away the treatment, making your curls relax prematurely.
7. Can I Get Other Treatments When I Get My Perm Done?
Absolutely not! A perm is an aggressive treatment, and combining it with other chemical procedures such as dyeing, bleaching or relaxing (in case you didn’t like how your curls turned out) can leave your hair irremediably dry, brittle and damaged.
Even if you’re thinking about changing your hair’s colour right before or after undergoing a perm, that’s a big no-no.
8. Products For Permed Hair
As your hair type changes, your hair care routine will also change. Depending on the type of curls or waves you have gone for, you will need to invest in some good products to take care of your freshly permed hair, as it needs special attention. Look for products with a nourishing and moisturising formula for your curls, and invest in professional-use shampoo and conditioner. Your hairstylist should be able to advise you and direct you towards the right products.
9. How To Dry Permed Hair?
The best technique to dry your hair after a perm is air-drying. You can scrunch the water in excess out of your hair with the aid of a microfibre towel or an old cotton t-shirt. Another useful method to dry tight ringlets and corkscrew curls is hair plopping. Alternatively, if it’s not too cold you could also wrap your curls up in a pineapple whilst drying.
@wale_riveraa Tutorial Técnica Plopping #rizos #rizadas #curly #curlyhair #hairplopping #plopping ♬ original sound - lanasmonkeys
10. Can You Straighten Permed Hair?
Try not exposing your curls to heat-based styling tools to avoid damaging your hair. If you must, spritz some heat protectant before styling with heated tools (as you should even if your hair is not permed).
11. How To Style Permed Hair?
There are many ways you can play around with your new hairstyle and recreate gorgeous looks. Curls can be worn in a series of protective hairstyles for maximum performance and zero damage; you can find out more about this type of hairdos in our dedicated blog: 10 Protective Hairstyles For Curly Hair: 3B To 4C Edition.
Butterfly clips and claw clips are all the rage now, giving you access to a whole world of long, cute hairstyles, and glamorous updos. You can also add curly hair extensions to your mane to achieve the ultimate curly hairstyle.
@nphiynhi So quick, so easy 👌🏻 #hair #hairtok #stylinghair #curlyhair #hairstyles #hairdryer #revlonhairdryerbrush @olaplex @revlon ♬ W.I.T.C.H. by Devon Cole and John Mark Nelson - Devon Cole
If you’re considering committing to a perm, know that although it’s a delicate process, it doesn’t have to be a nightmarish experience. Make sure you research your stylist of choice and, if possible, see some photo-reviews of their clients after getting a perm. Nowadays, it’s pretty easy to find this type of resource on social media such as Instagram, since hair technicians, stylists and colourists use this kind of platform to showcase their skills and promote their business. Make sure that price and quality are balanced, and try to stick to the same hair professional for touch ups after your first perm (unless, obviously, you didn’t get the desired results). The same thing goes for your products! Carefully research your new shampoo, conditioner, hair mask and styling/texturising products before investing in them and applying them on your permed hair.