How to maintain your digital perm — from conditioning to styling tips
Good hair day
So, you've taken the leap and thrown your hair into a laborious chemical bath of perm solution, it's done and dusted and it looked amazing fresh out the salon, but after a wash at home (after two days of letting the perm set), it's a far cry from effortless curls. Now you're left with a curly mop you are not prepared to manage and a lot of pent-up stress.
Keep your digital perm in good condition
We're not going to point fingers, but if you're upset that your hair has come out frizzy and unruly, you should probably reassess your hair washing routine. A digital perm subjects your hair to a lot of chemicals and heat, so it goes without saying that your hair is going to be dry and damaged; hence products that used to work for you may not anymore.
Effectively, you want to treat your hair as though it is naturally curly; this means get shampoos and conditioner specifically meant for treated or curly hair. Not only will it help prevent damage, it will also help your expensive perm last longer! If merely conditioning your hair doesn't work to reduce frizz, and you're desperate to skip the big exasperation chop (we've all been there), try investing in a hair oil or a deep conditioning hair mask.
Detangle your curls when wet
Following on from the last point, detangling in general is a whole different ball game. We all know that wet hair is more prone to breakage if you brush it, and so we've been told to only detangle when our hair is dry.
Well, newsflash: if you try to brush your perm out dry, you're going to look like a poodle. Instead, while your hair is wet, detangle gently with your fingers or use a wide-toothed comb to avoid breakage as much as you can. If you need it, you could also use a leave-in conditioner to help the process along.
Do not towel dry your permed hair
This one applies for any hair type—avoid using a towel to dry your hair, and especially avoid rubbing your hair between the towel to dry it! Towels are rough and will contribute to breakage. Instead, use a microfibre towel or even a cotton T-shirt and gently squeeze water from your hair. You can also wrap your hair up into a towel turban until enough water has been absorbed for you to let it air dry the rest of the way comfortably.
Air-dry or blow-dry?
Answer: Put the hairdryer down. You are doing your damaged hair no favours by subjecting it to more heat, plus the heat damage will make your perm fall faster and lead to more split ends. Air drying your hair will ensure that you can better control the shape it dries to (read: next point) and that you avoid further damage.
Twist your curls
Right, so you're done showering—but only to find that when your hair is air dried, it's a hot mess! First thing's first: learn how to twist your hair. If you twist tiny sections in place, it will dry in that shape and leave you with perfect little ringlets that you can gently shake out for a controlled, natural look. Tip: twist bigger sections of hair for a bigger curl. Alternatively, you can put your hair in rope braids, which hold better and you can even sleep with them in.
Blow-drying your curls the right way
So you're one of those people that can't stand to sit around with wet hair, or you've got places to be where wet hair will not fly. If you must blow-dry, set your hairdryer to cool and invest in a diffuser. The diffuser will help to reduce frizz and speed up the drying time for your locks, which in turn will also help to reduce the time your hair is exposed to heat, therefore keep it looking its best.
Responsibly heat-style your permed hair
Although it's true that you can still heat style your permed hair as normal, it's advisable to keep heat styling to a minimum. Like we said, permed hair and heat damage is not a cute combo. If you must, make sure you use an adequate amount of heat protectant to prevent your hair from frying!
Take care when dyeing permed hair
Hopefully, you had virgin hair when you permed it (or you hadn't coloured your hair in at least a month before getting it permed). The same rules apply after a perm—do not try and dye your permed hair until a month has passed and you've kept it in excellent condition, lest you risk losing the whole head. It probably goes without saying, but nothing good can come from overprocessing your hair with both perm solution and then bleach and hair dye.
Tip: Zendaya did a great video on her wavy-curly haircare routine, which largely applies to permed hair. Watch the video below for more!