Last Updated on February 12, 2024
You’ve just had a perm, and you’re getting restless about getting your hair clean. Do you really have to wait as long as the instructions said, or is that just a myth?
The soonest a perm can handle a wash without bad results is 48 hours after the perm. However, waiting 72 hours before washing hair after a perm yields the best results. Washing too early will stop the perm’s progress, and it can result in an absolute mess of frizzy hair.
Here’s why you should definitely wait 72 hours before washing your hair, how to shower without damaging a new perm, and what hair products you should look for once you can wash your hair again.
When Can I Wash My Hair After a Perm?
Getting a perm is a chemical process that changes the shape of your hair, making it curly. Despite what you might assume, that process doesn’t stop when the chemicals are removed.
The process continues to progress for the next few days, and washing your hair before it’s done will disrupt that process. That will not only stop the perm from finishing its work, but it will also result in severe frizz.
That’s because the chemicals of the perm have damaged the cuticles of your hair, and washing them could make them go all over the place, giving you an intense case of wet frizz. Meanwhile, if you stop the perm in its tracks by washing it, you’ll be left with half-treated hair with curls that are a lot less curly than you wanted them to be.
So, when is it safe for you to wash it? Well, if you want to give both of those issues a wide berth, 72 hours is about the threshold where continuing to wait doesn’t do anything more. After 72 hours, you can wash your hair and expect the curls you bargained for, and avoid the severe frizz that comes from moisturizing damaged cuticles.
By that time, the perm has done its job, your hair is now curly, and the cuticles have had time to repair themselves.
But, sometimes, you’re in a hurry, and you don’t want to wait that long to wash your hair. If that’s the case for you, then you can get away with washing your hair after 48 hours. You won’t get the results you would have if you’d waited just 24 more hours, but at least your hair is clean and not too frizzy, right?
Can I Shower without Ruining my Perm?
Refraining from washing your perm doesn’t mean you can’t take a shower for hygiene. You can still shower; you will just need to take a few precautions so that you can do so without ruining your perm.
First, find a vinyl or plastic shower cap. You need to protect your hair from the water from the shower head, which is typically aimed in a way that you can’t avoid getting your hair wet just by trying to position yourself in a certain way. Make sure that the cap is the right size so that all of your hair can stay protected for your entire shower.
Then, you’re going to have to sacrifice some comfort in order to protect your perm from the steam of the shower. Try to keep your shower lukewarm or cold since the steam of a hot shower could rise and enter the cap from beneath. If you really want a hot shower, keep it as short as possible to limit the amount of vapor that will reach your hair.
Products to Use After a Perm
Is Dry Shampoo Safe to Use Right after a Perm?
Now, it’s one thing to wash your hair in the hot shower when your perm is barely done, but what about dry shampoo?
Dry shampoo is dry, and it’s meant to be used on dry hair. It gets rid of the grease and makes your hair look like it was recently washed. If it were safe to use right after a perm, you’d be able to keep your hair looking and smelling nice over the course of all 72 hours.
With that enticing prospect, the question becomes whether it will interfere with the perm. Since it’s dry, it won’t cause any wet frizz by moisturizing the healing cuticles, but that doesn’t mean it won’t affect the hair itself and the perm process it’s going through.
The safe bet is to ask your stylist. Different perms might react differently, and the dry shampoo itself could act differently from other dry shampoos when interacting with your hair. Also, keep in mind that you shouldn’t brush your hair right after getting a perm, and if you don’t brush your hair after applying dry shampoo to it, your hair will have several streaks of white powder in it unless you use an invisible dry shampoo.
Products to Use for Washing a Perm
When you wash permed hair, it’s not usually a good idea to keep using the same hair products you’d been using beforehand. Instead, you’re going to want to switch to some products that help keep the perm in good shape.
First, you’re going to want a shampoo that nourishes your hair. You want it to stay healthy and to keep its shape. For that, you’ll need to find a shampoo that hydrates and strengthens your hair.
You can get a conditioner to match that, or you can look for a conditioner that offers additional benefits. You will especially want to look for a conditioner that can support your hair with elastic proteins, which will nourish your hair and help it recover from the damage from the perm chemicals, rebuilding it even as it stays in the shape you want it to have.
In your search for a good conditioner, you should also keep an eye out for a leave-in conditioner that could do the job. If you can’t find a leave-in conditioner that adds elastic proteins, see if you can find a shampoo that does.
At the very least, use products that will hydrate your hair since dryness is one of the common side effects of perms.
Practices to Avoid
After washing your perm, don’t reach straight for your hairdryer. It’s not absolutely detrimental to your perm, but the heat can cause some damage. You should air-dry your hair instead.
One thing you really shouldn’t do, though, is use oil on your hair, at least for the first seven days. It’s alright after that, but until the first seven days are over, don’t put oil in your hair.