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How Long Does a Perm Last?


A perm is a chemical treatment for your hair that can make your hair stay curly or straight even after being washed. Because perms don’t wash out like some hair dyes, they can last up to 6 months, depending on how fast your hair grows and how you treat it. If you want to make a perm last, here are a number of things you can do:

  • Don’t dye your hair for two weeks before and after you get a perm.
  • Invest in shampoos and conditioners made for curly hair.
  • Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.
  • Wait for two days after the perm before washing your hair.
  • Don’t comb your hair for the first 24 hours.
  • Avoid putting your hair in a ponytail before washing your hair.

woman feeling her well conditioned hair

How Does a Perm Work?

You might be wondering how a perm actually works to curl or straighten your hair. When you go in for a perm, your hair stylist will put your hair into curlers and apply a chemical that breaks down the keratin in your hair. Keratin is a protein that gives your hair the strength and shape it had before. Once it’s gone, your stylist now has complete control of the shape of your hair. A neutralizer, such as hydrogen peroxide, is applied to help the keratin in your hair rebuild around the curlers, which leaves your hair curled.

Once the curlers are removed, your hair will now be “permanently” curled (which is where the term “perm” comes from). Unlike hair dyes, perms can’t be washed out. However, just because your hair is curled doesn’t mean it’s impossible to do any of the hairstyles you used to do before the treatment. You can still straighten, curl, and style permed hair just like you would normally.

Keep in mind that going in for a perm is not an “in and out” service. If you go in for a perm, you can expect to be in the salon for a few hours, depending the length of your hair. When going to the stylist, bring pictures of what you want because you can decide how tight you want your curls to be. Make sure your stylist knows exactly what you want so you can leave the salon excited for your new do.

How to Keep Your Perm Frizz-Free

As with any curls, it’s important to maintain your new look to avoid the frizz and tangles that come with damaged hair. Here’s what you can do to make sure your new curls stay frizz-free.

  • Treat Your Hair Like it’s Naturally Curly

    A perm makes your hair act as if it was naturally curly, which means it needs to be treated like curly hair, too. Choose shampoos and conditioners made for treated hair. Not only will this prevent and reverse damage, but it will also help your perm last longer too.

  • Condition and Moisturize

    Just like any chemical hair treatment, your hair will most likely be a little damaged after the perm. Make sure to use a conditioner every time you shampoo, and if your hair seems a little frizzy, go for a deep-conditioning treatment to add extra moisture to your locks.

  • Avoid Blow Drying Your Hair

    The heat from a hair dryer can create unwanted frizz, damage, and split ends. If you need to blow dry your hair, try to wait until it’s mostly dry and use a diffuser to keep the curl without the frizz.

  • Stay Away From Heat

    Straightening your hair can not only create frizz and damage, but it can also loosen your curls. While some heat is okay, make sure to use plenty of heat protectant when straightening to make sure you don’t damage your gorgeous curls.

  • Are you looking to get a perm? Check out our student spa and salon! Our students can do perms and more under the supervision of licensed professionals.