How to Care for Newly Permed Hair

Permed hair needs a bit of rest before the first wash and deep-conditioning treatment.
... Christopher Robbins/Photodisc/Getty Images

Perms offer voluptuous volume and ringlets without having to heat style your tresses every single day, but such heavy-duty chemical processing also means that your hair becomes fragile and requires special care to retain a healthy, glossy shine. The first couple of days after a perm are a particularly delicate time for the hair because the chemical solutions used to reshape the hair shafts are still doing their work. Some simple care techniques will give your perm a more lasting hold and help keep your hair healthier for longer.

Refrain from washing your hair for a full 48 hours after you step out of the salon. Washing with shampoo -- and even getting your hair wet -- can disturb the hair proteins as they are locking into their shapes in those first hours.

Leave your hair loose the first few days and avoid putting it into tight ponytails and buns. Particularly avoid hair elastics and tight clips that can reshape your hair with dents. Also refrain from brushing or combing the hair during this time. Run your fingers through your hair to smooth it out, if necessary.

Wash your hair with a gentle moisturizing shampoo made for chemically treated hair on day three. These shampoos will have natural, soothing ingredients for those stressed tresses after a perm. Use gentle massaging motions on the hair and rinse thoroughly. Only use warm water when washing your perm, never hot.

Apply a deep conditioner formulated for permed hair after you shampoo. The conditioner will help your hair to rehydrate after the process. Rather than weighing your hair down, conditioner will help it look nourished, glossy and natural after a perm. Leave the conditioner in for about five minutes.

Comb through the hair while it is covered in the conditioner with a wide-tooth comb. This will remove any tangles and encourage the conditioner to hug every strand. Use gentle strokes and only make a couple of passes at each section.

Rinse out the conditioner thoroughly with warm water and towel dry your hair. Avoid combing or brushing the tresses after the shower, especially in the first couple weeks after a perm. Avoid combing your perm when it is dry. Smooth through with your fingers when you need to freshen up the style.

  • Although new hair growth will be a factor after a couple of months, perms can last for up to six months with gentle care and treatment.
  • To make a perm last longer, avoid heat styling as much as possible. Use a hair-dryer diffuser to help retain the curl of the perm and soften the damage of heat styling.

Sarah Vrba has been a writer and editor since 2006. She has contributed to "Seed," "AND Magazine," Care2 Causes and "202 Magazine," among other outlets, focusing on fashion, pop culture, style and identity. Vrba holds an M.A. in history with an emphasis on gender and fashion in the 19th century.