When you have a modern perm, all you have to do to get perfect beachy waves is basically roll out of bed. The treatment has the ability to totally take the place of your daily 20-minute morning meeting with a curling wand, but it's not completely free of maintenance. In order to keep your the freshly set texture in-tact, there's a few very important rules you need to follow when it comes to applying heat, styling, and the products you choose. Consider this roundup of pro tips your modern perm after-care manual.
Immediately After the Perm
That whole speech Legally Blonde's Elle Woods gave was legit. After perming your hair, celebrity hairstylist Sascha Breuer says you'll need to wait three days before getting it wet. "I only recommend washing sooner if you want to break up the curls to achieve a softer, semi-permanent beachy waves look," he adds.
For a week, steer clear of any styling, other than simply scrunching the hair with your fingers to set the curls in place. "Even the most basic hairstyles or hair accessories can potentially cause your perm to break or set in a unwanted shape," says Breuer. That also includes not brushing your hair with a hairbrush. At most, you can finger-comb your curls, or if you have to, use a wide-toothed comb in the shower after applying conditioner. When you go to bed, wrap your hair in a silk scarf to protect the perm. Finally, Breuer recommends staying away from chemical treatments, which could potentially disrupt your perm, for at least a month after your perm.
But really, you shouldn't be freaking out about how you're styling it on the day-to-day. "One of the best bits about perming hair is that you don’t have to agonize about styling daily: the look is a major statement in itself," says Breur.
VIDEO: Trust Us, We Tried It: The Modern Perm
The Rules of Heat Styling
"On the whole, it’s best to avoid heat styling as much as possible," notes Breuer. Swap out regular blow drying for air drying, and if you have to use a blow-dryer, be sure to attach the diffuser. "Straightening tools should also be avoided because permed hair tends to frizz out more than natural hair and heat styling causes split-ends to appear much faster in perms, all of which means that your curls break up sooner than you’d want," he says.
Ideally, the modern perm would make it less necessary for you to plug in a hot tool in the first place. If you do want to heat style in any form, Breuer says to coat your hair with a heat protectant—he loves Wella EMEI Thermal Image Spray ($18; ulta.com). "The spray works on two fronts: creating a protective barrier that holds up against extreme heat and smoothening hair follicles to prevent frizzing so that your curls stay healthy and glossy."
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The Rules on Products
Your haircare shelf might need a mini makeover. Try to avoid hair products that are made with alcohol and silicones. "Alcohol will dry out your hair fast, leaving it brittle and frizzy and ruining the perm," notes Breuer. "Silicones wear heavy, making hair greasy and weighed-down. If you can’t avoid these ingredients, at the very least you’ve got to look for products that carry these in a minimal concentration."
For your shampoo and conditioner, go for moisturizing curl-enhancing formulas, but be sure they're not ultra-creamy, which could weigh down your perm and disrupt the shape of your curls. Since the idea is finding a balance between cleansing your curls and clearing build-up and enhancing them, try deep cleansing on a weekly basis. "You want to give your curls extra nourishment and protection, against the elements and artificial stressors like heat styling tools, so look for products that are protein-rich," adds Breuer.