How to Get a Perm You Won't Hate

Avoid Perm Remorse with These Tips

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Of all the questions I get, perms are the hardest to answer. If you've decided that you want to get a perm, and you've already read through the red flags to consider, the next step is to actually get a perm that won't leave you feeling serious regret. Perm remorse isn't pretty, so it's important to do your homework.

Take Your Time

Getting a perm is a serious business. In a nutshell, when you retexture your hair with a typical perm solution, the perm chemicals break the structure of your hair down (more or less to mush), and then restore its strength to form around the perm rod.

I believe one of my hair instructors in beauty school drove the point home to me best by saying, "a perm solution is essentially one ingredient away from air." Knowing that it's important that you take your time to find a stylist and a perm that will work best for your hair.

Finding a Stylist

The best way to get a perm that you won't hate is to have a stylist that knows what she's doing. The chemical reaction of a perm on hair is really a deliate science. I'm often asked, "Doesn't every stylist know how to perm hair?" Sure, we all learned how to do it, but that doesn't mean that every stylist is good at it, enjoys a perm service, and understands the chemical reaction of a perm solution to your hair type as she should. If you already have a stylist you trust, open the converstaion at your next haircut appointment. Ask her to be honest with you and ask her about her experience with perms and how comfortable she is with perming hair.

In my opnion, if your hair stylist truly cares about the condition of your hair, she will either let you know if perming your hair is bad idea or will refer you to someone that is more experienced if she's not confident performing a perm service.

If you don't have a regular stylist, It's time to find one (here's how).

Especially if your hair is long, ask around for a stylist that specializes in long hair perms and schedule a consultation before you schedule your perm to sit down with your stylist and discuss your perm goals, your hair's condition, and how to properly care for a perm.

Price Should Not be a Consideration

Depending on the length of your hair, a perm should not be a cheap endeavor. The right perm service will take the time to properly prep, process, and finish. Besides paying for your stylists time, you should choose a stylist with the experience necessary to give you the best results. Pay for her expertise. A perm is permanent, and the wrong perm could very well leave your hair feeling gummy, brittle, dry, or worse. Bottom line, if you can't afford a perm, don't get one. Unless you're ready to explore the idea of a pixie cut if it goes wrong.

Take Care of Your Investment

When getting a perm, you should expect to completely change your hair products and routine. Curly hair takes a different maintenance regime than straight hair. Ask your stylist for product recommendations and use them.

Questions and Discussions to have with your Stylist Before Getting a Perm

  • It's important to know if your hair can handle a perm. Be 100% honest and upfront with your stylist about any and all hair coloring, highlighting, or texture services you've done on your hair in the past. Even if you had highlights and you've since covered them up with an all over color 8 months ago, it's important that your stylist is aware. The perm solution she chooses will be based on your honesty, and the final result will vary greatly if you're keeping skeletons in your closet.
  • Discuss your goals. Be specific. Show your stylist photos and ask if the results are achievable with a perm. Do not assume that your stylist knows what you're talking about when you say "wavy", "curly", or "body". We all define these terms a bit differently. Also keep in mind that it's hard to tell if pictures online are the result of a perm, natural wave, extensions, or a curling iron. Perhaps it's a combination. Ask your stylist to help you understand the difference and if a perm is a right solution for you, or if you just need some curling tips to achieve the results you seek.
  • Ask for your stylists level of experience, success, and comfort level with performing a perm service. Ask her if she has photos of perms she's done.

What to do if you Hate Your Perm

The thing about perms is, you can never tell with 100% accuracy how a perm will turn out until you actually do it.

Educated guesses are all a stylist can really do until a perm is performed on your hair, and even with all the proper planning, you may not be pleased with the final results.

Perms can be reversed with permanent straightening, but keep in mind that a permanent straightening service is the same chemicals used in perming your hair, with the reverse results. If your perm damaged your hair, reversing the perm could cause more damage. Before you run for a straightening service, ride the wave of your new perm (so to speak) and try to make the best of it. Get on a good strength building regimen to help repair the damage, and deep condition your hair regularly.

The best way to "calm a perm down" if the results are too curly or too frizzy is to try a semi-permanent smoothing treatment. But keep in mind, any additional chemical service could cause more problems, and will definitely cost more money and more maintenance products.