"To perm or not to perm," that is the question. This is not an easy decision to make, and you should proceed cautiously. Caring for permed hair requires attention to details and changing some of your hair care habits.
How to wash permed hair
Because your hair has just gone through a strong, chemical treatment, hair follicles must be treated gently to avoid breakage and to prevent your hair from becoming overly dry and brittle.
You may have to change shampoos and opt for a gentler shampoo that is specially formulated for permed hair. Scrubbing your scalp with an aggressive motion and using hot water can work against the integrity of your perm. Instead, gently massage your scalp with shampoo, and use warm water instead of hot. Wrapping your wet hair turban-style can also cause friction to your now-fragile hair. Pat your wet hair dry with a towel to prevent tangles.
Using a regular conditioner may have two downsides: The product may not give your chemically treated hair what it needs to look healthy, or it might over-condition your hair follicles and relax the curl. Use a specially formulated conditioner for permed hair to remedy this problem.
How to style permed hair
The first rule of thumb is to not brush your hair when wet. Use only a wide-toothed comb, and be careful how you remove tangles.
You probably won't like the smell of your hair for about a week, especially when it's wet. Even though you'll be tempted, avoid using a chemical application or any perfumes in an attempt to minimize the scent. Potential hair breakage isn't worth the risk.
On the other hand, moisturizers and spray vitamins developed to aid permed hair are healthy choices that won't affect your perm. You want your hair to maintain the body that your perm created and have it last as long as possible. You might also try a perm rejuvenator that adds not only moisture but also shine, increased manageability and curl definition.
Using a diffuser to dry your permed hair is a better choice than a blow dryer, especially for curly styles. Depending upon the type of perm you have, you may still prefer to use a blow dryer. If that's the case, be sure to use a low heat setting, or consider switching to a ceramic, ionic dryer to protect your hair's natural luster.
As your perm grows out
Don't forget to get regular trims every five to six weeks to remove split ends as your perm grows out. Doing this will also extend the life of your perm and make it easier maintain your hairstyle. Avoid using rubber bands, which can break hair strands. If you want to pull your hair back, use only fabric-covered hair elastics.
Remember, your new perm will probably only last for a couple of months. You may be ready for another perm before it's safe to do so. Always ask your hair professional about the timing for your next treatment to avoid hair damage. Caring for permed hair means following directions. If you do so, your perm will last longer, and you will be more satisfied with the results.