When most people think about perm, they usually think of tight coils, harsh chemicals, and the 80’s. And while this was pretty accurate to perms some time ago, they’re actually much more modern now! This means that you can customize the outcome to fit your own personal style. It’s time to change what you know about perming your hair!

What is a perm?

A perm is a technique that creates texture and body by chemically altering your hair strands. It can work on people of all hair types—even those with straight, thin, or fine hair. Usually, a stylist will apply a perm lotion onto the hair and then wrap the strands around perm rods. After the perm lotion has had time to work its magic, it’s washed out and a neutralizer is applied to the strands to stop the process.

What’s different about perms today?

Back in the 80’s, there really wasn’t much room for customization when it came to getting perms. It was usually only done to straight hair to make it wavy or curly. Nowadays, the options are basically limitless!

Traditional perms used plastic curling rods during the service but now, modern-day hair wizards have come up with different tools to achieve different curl types such as using rollers, fabric, and even doing finger waves! These different tools and techniques can either help enhance your natural texture or create a new texture altogether! Think waves, curls, and coils.

Do perms cause damage to your hair?

Just like with coloring or relaxing your hair, you should expect some level of damage to your strands when getting a perm. After all, you are applying harsh chemicals onto your locks to alter their shape.

With that being said, when it’s done correctly shouldn’t ruin your hair but rather leave your strands feeling a bit dry. To combat that, make sure to deep condition regularly and incorporate a leave-in conditioner into your styling routine.

Keep in mind that perms are not for everyone. If your hair is already overprocessed and you’re dealing with breakage/dryness, a perm probably isn’t the best option for you. Make sure to have a consultation with your stylist first to see if it’s the right fit.

How much do perms cost?

The price of a perm service all depends on the salon and the stylist, but it will usually run you around $50-$150 plus tip. If you have long and/or thick hair, that typically means the service will take longer and the price will be higher. The service takes at least 2 ½ hours to complete and once again, will take longer if your hair is long in length.

How long do perms last?

The longevity of a perm is dependent on how long your hair is. This is because the longer your hair is, the more weight it has to it and along with gravity, the weight of your hair will physically pull down on the strands making them straighter. How long your new curls will last also varies on how well you take care of it.

For shorter hair, a perm usually lasts about 3-6 months. For longer hair, expect a perm to last about 2-4 months before your roots really start to show.

What to expect during your appointment and how to prepare

If it’s your first time getting a perm, here are some things to expect before, during, and after the service:

  1. Make sure to book a consultation with your stylist before going in for a perm service. This will allow the stylist to get a better understanding of what you’re looking for and if that style is possible for your hair type. When going in for a consultation, bring inspiration photos of the type of look you’re going for.
  2. Do not dye or highlight your hair at least a month before your appointment. Coloring your hair puts the strands in a weakened state which is not ideal for perms.
  3. A few days before your appointment, do a deep conditioning treatment with a moisture rich product like the Oribe Moisture & Control Deep Treatment Masque. This will ensure that your locks are as healthy and hydrated as possible before your perm.
  4. Don’t use heat on your hair 24 hours leading up to the appointment. Once again, this just helps in making sure your hair is the healthiest it can be!
  5. Prepare to be in the chair for a while. Typical perm services last a few hours all depending on your hair length, texture, and the style you’re going for.
  6. During the treatment, your hairstylist will apply a perm solution to your strands to alter the bonds of your hair. Then your hair will be wrapped around the perm rod to get that wave or curl shape you’re looking for. Afterwards, a neutralizer is applied to stop the perming process.
  7. Just like bleaching or coloring, perm solutions do give off a chemical smell when applied to the hair. If you feel any burning on your scalp, make sure you let your stylist know.

How to take care of a perm

To prolong the life of your perm, there are certain tips and tricks to taking care of permed hair.

Don’t brush your hair. Use a wide-tooth comb or your fingers when you need to detangle. A brush will stretch out your waves/curls and make them look stringy.

Get trims regularly. Going in for a trim every 3-4 months will keep your hair looking healthy even when your perm starts growing out.

Use shampoos and conditioners that are free of harsh ingredients. Things like sulfates and silicones can dry out your hair which is the last thing you want after getting a perm. Look into curly girl method approved products such as DevaCurl and Innersense to ensure your routine contains ingredients that are good for your hair.

Deep condition often. Look for deep conditioners that contain protein to help moisturize and strengthen your hair strands. Briogeo’s Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask is a great option.

Be extra careful if you plan on heat styling your hair. Always keep the heat as low as possible and use a heat protectant spray every time. The high heat could actually fry your hair off or dry it out.