What to Know About Getting a Permanent Wave

CalendarMonday, June 20th, 2022
UserJeff Chiarelli
View2 Min READ
holding curly hair

What to Know About Getting a Permanent Wave

holding curly hair
Brastock Images – stock.adobe.com

This year has been all about texture: textured lobs, textured fringe bobs, textured layers, and shag cuts––a departure from the long, silky flat iron hairstyles. Curls look good in any season of the year. Using different techniques, you can achieve many different styles of natural-looking curly locks with a perm. Whether you want beachy waves, cascading soft curls, or ultra curly hair, you can reinvent your look in one visit to the salon.

What is a Permanent Wave?

A permanent wave, or a perm, is a styling process where the stylist uses a coiling technique on the hair and applies a perming solution followed by a neutralizer to set the hair. Nowadays, stylists can customize a perm by placing the curling rods in different directions or using various size rods to create tighter or looser curls. Bigger rods will result in bigger softer curls, and smaller rods can yield tighter curls. The placement of the rods will determine the style of the coils and the way they fall. 

A perm usually lasts anywhere between two to six months, depending on the care and texture of your hair. Today, perms are not as over-processed as they once were, so the treatment isn’t as harsh on your hair. Perms can chemically change the hair fibers and reform each strand, creating texture. 

Tatyana – stock.adobe.com

What to Expect? 

The duration of the perm will vary with each unique hair type and the care you devote to your perm. Your stylist will advise how long to wait before washing, combing, and styling your hair. Typically, you should avoid washing your hair for three days to allow your perm to set fully. 

You can talk with your stylist about the style of curls you want. The spiral perm will give you lots of tight curls, while the volumizing perm will give your hair soft waves and more volume. 

The Rules of Hair Care with a Perm

Permed hair is more susceptible to split ends when styled with heat, so avoid blow dryers and flat irons with a perm. Trim the hair every three to four weeks to keep your perm looking fresh and healthy. 

Avoid formulas with hair-drying ingredients, like alcohol. Switch up your routine to hair care formulated for textured, curly hair. Keep the shampooing and conditioning to a minimum. Once or twice per week should suffice. When you wash and blow-dry your hair, be sure to use a diffuser and hair moisturizing products. The key to extending the life of your perm is to keep the hair looking healthy with regular trims and moisture retention. Apply curl-enhancing products and leave-in conditioners for moisture. 

Basic Hair Essentials for Permed Hair

  • Wide-tooth or detangling combs (avoid brushes)
  • Shampoos and conditioners with emollients
  • Silk scrunchie (avoid rubber bands)

Before you go to bed, take these steps to protect your hair:

  1. Apply curl cream to your hair to minimize split ends.
  2. If you pull your hair back, tie it loosely with a silk scrunchy.
  3. Invest in a silk pillowcase to reduce breakage. 
  4. Always dry your hair before going to bed. 

Iconic Celebrity Curls

Now that you have an idea of what to expect, here’s some inspiration to channel the best-spotted celeb curls.


Zendaya has worn every hairstyle, from loose waves to tight corkscrew curls. Her glowing complexion and wild au natural locks are head-turning, and you can get her look with a perm. 

Dolly Parton

All hail the queen of big hair, actress, singer, and songwriter Dolly Parton. In 1980, Dolly played a feisty, beautiful, and no-nonsense secretary in the iconic movie “9 to 5.” She wore her signature big, platinum blonde hair with perfectly placed curls framing her doll face throughout the film. Plus, she inspired a curly-hair-Dolly-look alike contest in the 1980 movie “Urban Cowboy.” Dolly has confessed to having a wig for every occasion to elude bad hair days. Wigs can be permed, too! 

Salma Hayek

From frizz-free, jet black silky waves to textured, voluminous ombre coils, the gorgeous Salma Hayek is known for her tremendous talent and trademark curls. 

Kerry Washington

Kerry Washington looks strikingly beautiful in straight hair or curls. She has flaunted flawless beach waves, half-up and half-down corkscrew curls, and long, windswept, wispy waves. 

If you’re looking for more inspiration, look no further than Ogle School’s blog posts about the latest trends

About the Author

Jeff Chiarelli
Jeff Chiarelli is the Head of Marketing for Ogle School. His responsibilities include leading Ogle School's marketing and branding strategy to amplify Ogle School's passion for helping create future beauty professionals in the communities Ogle School serves.