Another Perma-Post: The Perm Summary

So, Day 4 post-perm is over (see part 1 and part 2 of the saga at the links), and so far the hair is a hit. I went to lunch with an old friend on Sunday and didn’t mention the perm at all until right before we parted ways, and she was totally surprised – she said she thought it was just my hair un-blowdried (not a word, sorry). I thought that was a pretty nice compliment.

A little bit of end-frying there, but not bad

On Monday I tried not washing it for a day, but then I went and put way too much extra product in it and it got crunchy and heavy. Total user error there; I am now in the stage of trying to figure out a whole new hair routine so I’m bound to make mistakes. I’ve never been one to go days without washing my hair, it makes me crazy to go every other day even, but I do think it would be better for my hair to wash less frequently, so we’ll see if I can find a way to pull that off now. I read Lorraine Massey’s book Curly Girl years ago (since my hair does have some curl) and tried to follow her “no ‘poo” rules but I just couldn’t swing it, and chalked it up to my hair being so fine and limp that it made it impossible. But maybe I can work some no-‘poo days into my routine now, days where I just cleanse with conditioner and skip the shampoo altogether (hence the phrase “no poo”). Then again, maybe not; one of my friends who used to perm her long hair regularly said she actually felt like she had to shampoo it more, not less, and she regularly goes three or four days without washing hers un-permed.

I was actually using my macro lens for these shots, hence all the close-ups

Other than that, I have been using Moroccan Oil on the ends especially (blog follower Alma suggested Emollient by Aveda, but I didn’t have any on-hand and read online that it was a gloss so I thought this was similar), which has really helped with the frizz. I have two bottles of that stuff based on a friend’s insistence I buy it about a year ago – never had any use for it until now, but it’s been great so far. I also picked up Aussie’s 3-Minute Miracle moisturizer but I haven’t yet that yet, and I’ve been using Framesi’s Curl Shampoo and Conditioner when I do wash it. I put plain old grocery store mousse on it when it’s wet along with the Moroccan Oil, and have tried out various other products just to play around and see what I like.

I’m also trying to figure out what products are best to use and doing a lot of experimentation, so I’ve amassed a little arsenal of bottles to use. Probably I’ll end up sticking with my old favorites, but it’s been kinda fun to try out new things here and there. I haven’t gotten to the “Sea Salt Spray” yet because I’ve read it can be drying (which my hair does not need right now), but it sounded so tasty I had to buy a bottle (hey, remember when there was beer in shampoo? Yep, me too).

…but don’t drink it!

So if I had to sum up the whole hair-perm experience at this point (and I know it’s still too early to do so, but that won’t stop me from trying) I’d recommend the following, if you’re considering one:

  • Go to a stylist who does perms at least semi-regularly, even if that means it isn’t your usual stylist. I went to a guy named Philippe who said most younger stylists don’t know how to do perms since they’ve been out of favor for more than 20 years, but I don’t know if that’s true or not. He did a good job though, and he was 60, so take that with a grain of sea salt. Or not.
  • If the stylist doesn’t insist on a consultation before giving you a perm, run from them. He or she should want to know about the condition of your hair and if it’s been chemically treated recently before jumping in. I called two places to make appointments for perms, and both salons insisted on a consultation before they would book it, so I felt good about going to either place (one could see me sooner than the other though, which is why I went where I did).
  • Having dyed hair does not rule out getting a perm, but talk to the stylist about it, and keep in mind that chemicals from the perm will lighten dyed hair a shade. And bleach is more problematic than plain old hair dye, so be sure to talk to the stylist about your highlights or if you’re a bottle blonde.
  • Be prepared for a shock at first if you’ve not had a perm before or in a long time; I could be wrong but it seems to me that no matter what kind of perm you say you want, there’s a good chance you’re going to look like a poodle initially, so you need to be prepared for that (still not sure mine is ever going to tone down into waves, but in my case, I like it fine as is and am not worried about it. But it’s way curlier than I asked for).
  • Don’t be averse to getting a cut at the same time; Philippe wanted to cut my hair also but I’d just spent $75 on a haircut the week before (then impulsively decided to get the perm a week later) so I insisted he not do this, but – I should have allowed it. My non-perm cut was almost entirely devoid of layers, and post-perm I’m still thinking it’s going to need more shape. So a new cut is in my future. Going from straight to curly will most likely require a different shape, so don’t be too committed to keeping the same exact cut.
  • Don’t judge the perm too quickly! It takes a few days for your hair and your nerves to settle down, so I’d caution against going home and immediately trying to wash the perm out or buying chemicals at Sally’s Beauty Supply to “reverse” it. When reading the Google results for OMG I GOT A PERM AND I HATE IT, I found loads of people recommending immediately washing the hair to “wash the perm out,” and that sounded crazy to me even in my frazzled state. I mean, I wanted the perm, so why would I immediately flush all that money ($125) down the drain just because it didn’t look like I thought it would? I’d recommend giving it at least 2-3 days before attempting to change it, and even then, go see the stylist for help.
  • If it’s your first perm, try to schedule the appointment when you at least have the weekend to hide out and let the hair calm down. I had several days to stay home and acclimate to the new me, and knowing I didn’t have to see anyone else right away really helped calm me down when I went into intermittent freak-out modes.
  • Go back to your stylist in about 4-6 weeks for a trim to get any damaged ends snipped off.
  • Don’t perm it yourself! Go to a salon, unless you know someone who is a trusted stylist and is willing to do it for you. But even then, proceed with caution!

So, did I miss anything? Am I way off the mark with any of this? Let me know if I am, or if there’s anything else we should add.

Here’s one more pic – my skin is WAY over-softened here because I actually was hot when taking these pics and my makeup was melting, so it looked awful in the original and took a lot of work to repair (too much work, I think, but hey, it shows the hair).  Our air conditioner is out on my side of the house so it gets sweltering during the day…getting that looked at Monday night. It’s always something around here!

Too much Photoshop made me look doughy, but still, that’s way better than looking sweaty.

I’ve written a lot more about this whole perm experiment, but it’s too many posts to link. Just type “perm” into the search bar at the top right of this page if you actually want to read more about this for some insane reason.