What You Need to Know Before Getting a Perm

You know how there is that common theory where people get haircuts after a breakup? Well something took place in my life more than half a year ago than lead to getting a perm for the first time, though not a breakup. There is that feeling of an emotional compensation when you get a drastic makeover, whether it’s a new wardrobe, style, or haircut. You just need to come out again differently, pretending like you were unmoved. Well, that didn’t really work for me but I did learn something from getting this perm.

As an Asian girl, it’s either a blessing or a curse to have smooth, silky hair. What comes with these super soft strands that makes you look youthful is also the same reason they’re totally un-voluminous. Since I’ve wanted a perm for as long as I can remember, but just didn’t take that extra step to do it, I found the perfect emotional moment to capitalize on it and to “just do it” like Nike’s motto says.

Since I was getting it and didn’t want to suffer from analysis paralysis, I didn’t do much research beforehand because I didn’t want anything or anyone to hold me back. Yep, I always like my lessons learned the hard way — that way there will always be experiences to share with others.

This is what I learned from getting a perm for the first time.

Part 1: What I Learned From Getting a Perm

#1 It’s high maintenance.

I’ve been thankful to be blessed with soft, silky hair so when I got my perm and my hair took a turn for the worst, I totally wasn’t expecting it. Just like haircuts, I thought (or hoped) it was one of those things that will eventually get better after my hair grows out because your hair stylist wasn’t perceptive enough to get it on point. Nope, it never just happens. You have to put effort into it.

The reason I wanted a perm to begin with is so I don’t have to curl my hair every morning, which I’ve never been able to do. Little did I know that having a perm means creating new problems.

My hair became frizzy and because my hair was still in layers from a previous haircut, the imbalance was even more obvious, at least to myself. Maybe I was just self-conscious, but if I wanted the volume for my hair, I had to give up the silkiness. Aww, dayumm.

My hair care routine was always simple and I’ve always tried to manage to only use the basics: shampoo, conditioner, heat protectant spray (for blowdrying, straightener, or curling my hair), and the very occasional dry shampoo when I really need and remember to use it. With the perm, I’d had to switch to a softer shampoo to maintain the quality of hair as well as introduce a product or two into the routine.

Some rules that I was told is not to comb my hair with a brush. I realized it was okay to brush it with a wide-tooth comb and that actually made my curls flatter, wavier, the way I like it for those famous California beach waves.

#2 There’s frizz to tame.

It’s one thing to not have soft and silky hair because frankly I was born with it and didn’t have to work for it, but when you pay to get a perm, you didn’t realize that you had to give up your silky hair for frizzy hair. The only good thing that came out of it was that since my hair is frizzy, it wasn’t staticky anymore.

I’ve used Head and Shoulders shampoo most of my life because it’s just what my family used and never had any problems with my un-permed hair. When I went back to my stylist, she says the shampoo is too harsh. I switched to the Renewing Argan Oil of Morocco shampoo and conditioner soon afterwards. While it doesn’t tame the frizz, it does make my hair a lot soft, especially post-conditioner. Post shampoo and conditioner, I rub TreSemme’s Keratin Smooth Hair Serum while my hair is still wet. It tames the frizz.

#3 Give it some time and play around with different products and routines that may work for your hair.

Different products react differently on certain people. It’s both a frustrating and fun thing to experiment with new products.

#4 Sleeping on it makes the curls flatter and wavier.

Normally, I will wash my hair right before if there was a social event to attend, but by accident, I discovered that to achieve flatter, wavy hair, it was better to wash it the night before and sleep on it (yes, literally lol) to prepare it for the next day. It’s still not perfect hair, but way better than the frizzy curls.

Part 2: Hair Care Routine Post-Perm (For waves)

  1. Shampoo twice using Organix’s Renewing Argan Oil of Morroco Shampoo
  2. Condition hair (both roots and ends) with Organix’s Renewing Argan Oil of Morroco Conditioner. This conditioner leaves the hair noticeably super soft!
  3. Comb hair through with a wide-tooth comb (This simple step flattens the waves by a lot!)
  4. Rub 2-3 pumps of TreSemme’s Keratin Smooth Keratin Infused Serum on wet hair (you can use it on dry hair too but I’ve never done that)
  5. Sleep on it for waves

Since I’m totally over my perm, instead of sleeping on it, I usually just straighten my hair for that intentional look. If I decide to go for straight hair, then I’d do what I do below.

  1. Spray TreSemme’s Heat Protectant Spray before blowdrying
  2. Blowdry hair
  3. Spray TreSemme’s Heat Protectant Spray before straightening
  4. Straighten hair with Chi Hair Straightener

The Verdict

I’ve been struggling with this and whether I should just cut my hair shorter so I don’t have to deal with the curls that have been growing out. Now that the permed sections of my hair is growing out, when I took a selfie last weekend, I’m like, “It’s either a bad perm or flat hair I have to deal with.” Totally, first world problems, I know.

But my point is I doubt I’ll be getting another perm anytime soon — and definitely not with the same stylist even if it means I have to pay more for it. It wasn’t as bad as first experience as I made it sound, but the second time around, I’ll make more informed decisions.

What do you think?

At the end of the day, not everyone is looking for the same perm, but I was going for waves while she gave me curls. Think Merida from Disney’s Brave movie. I’ll take her courage, but can leave the curls.

What was your experience with getting a perm?