How to Care for Perm-Treated Hair

Hair perms are popular because they add body and curl. A perm won't last as long and won't perform as well without proper care. Timing and the right products contribute to longer-lasting, lovelier perms.

Things You'll Need

  • Shampoo for chemically-treated hair
  • Conditioner for chemically-treated hair
  • Wide-toothed comb
  • Spray-on detangler (optional)
  • Diffuser (optional)
  • Alcohol-free styling products


    • 1

      Follow instructions not to shampoo your hair for 24 to 48 hours after the perm, depending on your stylist's advice. During this period your hair adjusts to the chemicals and the perm "settles" in. Your hair is also extra fragile at this point.

    • 2

      Shampoo after the waiting period with a product for chemically-treated hair. Shampoos for permed hair contain milder ingredients; regular shampoos are too harsh for newly permed hair.

    • 3

      Condition your hair to help with dryness caused by the perm. Like shampoo, a conditioner should be labeled for use on chemically-treated hair. Use a quarter-sized dollop of conditioner, gently work it through your hair and rinse thoroughly. Conditioning closes the hair's cuticle, which locks in the perm. It also detangles hair so you don't damage it by pulling on knots as you comb.

    • 4

      Towel-dry your hair with a light hand. Don't twist your hair in a towel turban or rub it with a towel. Such actions could cause matting and breakage. Simply blot the moisture from your hair with the towel.

    • 5

      Comb your wet hair with a wide-toothed comb. Do not brush wet permed hair. Work from the ends of your hair up to the scalp. Be gentle. Use a spray-on detangler if you need some extra help with knots.

    • 6

      Use a diffuser if you blow-dry your hair. The wind of a dryer and excessive heat can open the hair cuticle and allow the perm to relax. Blow-dry your hair only 85 to 90 percent dry to help avoid split ends and frizz.

    • 7

      Avoid styling products that contain alcohol, which dries out hair already stressed by the perm chemicals. Look for glazes and gels, which contain less alcohol. A mousse is fine if it's alcohol-free.

    • 8

      See your stylist for a trim after four to six weeks. Getting permed hair trimmed regularly helps prolong the life of the perm.

Tips & Warnings

  • The time to be gentle with your hair is after a perm. Don't be aggressive about combing or styling. The less damage, the longer your perm will last.
  • Avoid extremely hot water when shampooing. Heat opens the hair cuticle and allows the hair to relax. Moderately hot to lukewarm water is also less drying.
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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images

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