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5 Things to Know Before Getting a Perm

April 15, 2019

1 Min read

Yes, perms are making a comeback. Not the tight, poodle-esque spirals of the 1980s, but a looser, wavier, more modern incarnation. Think California-style beachy waves. However, even though today’s perm results are softer and more natural than they were thirty years ago, a perm is still a chemical treatment, and you shouldn’t opt for one without a clear understanding of the toll it can take on your tresses. Here, a few things to consider before boosting your curl factor.

Perms work best on healthy hair

If your hair has already undergone a chemical process, such as bleaching or relaxing, you probably want to skip a perm because doubling up on the chemicals can lead to chronic dryness and breakage. Similarly, if your hair is currently very dry or breakage-prone due to frequent heat-styling, very dry weather, genetics, or even illness, now may not be the best time for a perm. Those that find the greatest success and most improvement with a perm are typically those whose strands are healthy to start—and so better able to handle the needed chemicals.

There is a perm learning curve

“A perm isn’t always a wash and go style,” says Prose director of education and veteran stylist Faith Huffnagle, “It can be a challenge to learn how to manage curly or wavy hair if that isn’t your natural texture.” Those new to waves will have to make an initial financial investment and switch to styling products made for textured hair, like creams, serums or soft-hold mousses that provide natural hold plus moisture to minimize frizz. And they’ll have to learn how to use a diffuser to accelerate drying, leave enough time to air-dry—or become comfortable commuting with damp hair.

You can’t just color your hair whenever you want

To avoid over-drying and compromising the result of your perm and your color, do not color your hair within seven to ten days of a perm. Why? Both processes involve opening the hair’s cuticle (a.k.a. its outer layer), so, if this is done in quick succession, the chemicals you just spent a pretty penny depositing may wash right out. Note: This advice is for permanent or semi-permanent hair color that does not involve bleach. If you lift your color, as previously mentioned, perming is probably not for you because it could cause too much damage.

You’ll have to minimize exposure to water

Expanding on the cuticle-opening explanation, above, wetting permed hair—either by frequently shampooing or by swimming—can also hamper the longevity of your new wave. Why? It opens your hair’s protective outer layer and allows the perm chemicals to leak out.

Consider your current haircut carefully

If you’ve ever curled ribbon, you know how much it shortens once it’s spiraled. Well, the same thing happens to your hair. So, if you like the length of your hair right now, keep in mind that it could be as much as two inches shorter once it’s wavy/curly.


Whether you’re prepping for a perm (and want your hair in optimal health)—or you already have a perm and want hair care to make it last longer, Prose can make it happen. Get your customized formula here.



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  1. I think a green perm is not a possibility. Perms have to essentially break down and rebuild the structure of your natural hair. The most green you can get is setting your hair when wet and letting it dry to produce curls.