Growing up with naturally straight hair, I had always been jealous of girls my age sporting voluminous curls. In my teens, I pretty much abused my hair with a curling wand. And finally, in my twenties, I mustered up the courage to get my first perm.
I was super excited. Who wouldn’t be? I was finally going to have curly hair!
I sat patiently in that salon for hours, eager to see my new curls – and they didn’t disappoint.
For the next day or two, I flaunted my gorgeous spirals, and I loved the compliments I got from everyone.
But then, at around day three, the magic started to wear off.
I noticed something I had never experienced before in my life – frizz!
Turns out that while a beautiful perm is a blessing, frizz is its biggest curse.
I had to learn how to fix it the hard way!
Are you going through something similar?
Don’t worry, I’ve got you.
Here’s the lowdown on why this happens and how to calm down a frizzy perm.
Table of Contents
Why Is My Perm Looking A Little Frizzy?
There are lots of possible reasons why your perm is looking a bit frizzy and wonky.
Sometimes, it’s because of the weather or the pillowcases you sleep on at night.
But most of the time, it’s because you’re doing something too harsh and abrasive on your delicate, newly-permed strands.
You Washed Your Hair Too Soon
One of the most common reasons why permed hair can end up looking frizzy and disheveled is because you didn’t wait a whole 24 hours after your perm session to wash it.
Stylists always recommend that you wait at least a day (although the gold standard is 48 hours) before you can wet and shampoo permed hair.
If you don’t follow this rule, you could end up with uneven curls – some tight and coily, while others seem straight and wavy at best.
Waiting one or two days before getting your hair wet after your perm allows your new curls to set properly.
This makes them more defined and helps them last longer.
But when you immediately wash your hair, it could spell disaster and insane frizz.
Brushing Your Hair
Another usual culprit of frizzy permed hair is brushing it out.
Brushing your hair regularly might have been your way of life when you had straight hair, but now that you’re a curlyhead, you can’t.
Using a hairbrush to detangle your hair will disturb your curls, killing every ounce of definition.
Instead, when you need to detangle your locks, use a wide-toothed comb or your fingers.
But be careful not to overdo it so you can maintain your gorgeous spirals.
Start combing at the ends of your hair, working your way upward.
Or Maybe You Had A Bad Perm?
But sometimes, the frizz isn’t even your fault.
There’s a chance that the reason you have frizzy, unruly curls isn’t because of anything you’re doing, but because of a bad perm job.
There are many reasons that could lead to this.
First off, if your hair is extremely damaged, to begin with, and getting it permed can damage it even further.
Instead of changing your hair texture to make it curly, it just makes it frizzy and brittle.
Your hair may also be resistant to the chemicals used during the perming process, giving you an uneven curl pattern that makes it look ratty and frizzy.
Before your perm, your stylist should assess your hair first and tell you whether they recommend going through with the perm.
Damaged hair usually doesn’t pass this assessment, and you’re told to nurse it back to health before coming back in.
Another reason why your perm could have been ineffective is if your hair wasn’t processed as long as it should have been.
If it was left to process for far too long than necessary, you could end up with excessively coily hair that looks like a poofy, frizzy mess.
How To Salvage Your Hair From A Bad Perm
If you don’t like how the stylist handled your perm and want to wash it out, I can’t blame you.
We all deserve to have high standards for our dream curls.
So if you want out, here’s what you do.
Wash your hair as soon as you get home from the parlor.
Your newly curled hair needs at least 24 hours to set correctly, so if you wish to undo your perm, simply hop into the shower and shampoo it off.
Apply a rich deep conditioner, thoroughly saturating your curls.
Cover your head with a shower cap and try to leave it on all day.
Before going to bed, wash off the conditioner with cold water to close your hair cuticles.
You’ll notice afterward that your hair is loosened up and tamer.
While this technique may not completely bring your hair back to its original texture before your perm, it helps cut down on excess frizz and make your hair look even and manageable.
However, if you’re a trooper, you could just be a sport and put in the hard work that makes even terrible perms shine through.
Yes, this is possible – but only if you show your curly locks the right kind of tender loving care.
How To Calm Down A Frizzy Perm
If you want to stick with your perm and just solve the issue with frizz, you have just one golden rule: always moisturize your hair.
Moisture And Protection From The Elements Is Key
Moisturizing allows your locks to clump together and enhances your perm’s curl pattern, showing it off more.
Moisturizing your hair properly also protects it from other elements that can make your hair even frizzier, like humidity.
When there’s too much moisture in the air, your dehydrated hair bonds might suck up those water molecules, causing your hair to swell and look super poofy.
That’s why it’s crucial to look for products that will lock out humidity.
These products are usually the more nourishing and moisturizing ones.
If you have less dense hair, ensure that they’re still lightweight enough to allow you some body and volume without weighing your curls down.
Many humidity-fighting products you see may contain silicone, but stay wary of this ingredient.
While it locks humidity out efficiently, it can also cause product build-up in your hair, damaging it and making it feel heavy.
Go instead for light, nourishing oils like jojoba oil and argan oil to seal moisture in and fight frizz-causing humidity.
They also add some smoothness and shine to your hair, which is always a nice bonus.
You Need To Perfect Your Wash Day Routine
Gorgeous curls aren’t all about styling cream or finger-coiling – it all starts with a good wash day.
Effective hair products in the shower are your foundation for defined curls and spirals.
Coconut Oil Mask
Before you start, consider doing a coconut oil mask an hour or so before your shower.
Coconut oil repairs damage from your perm while moisturizing your curls deeply.
Saturate your hair with coconut oil and use a shower cap to trap the heat and lock moisture in.
Don’t worry if it feels a little greasy – your shampoo will take care of that later.
Let it sit for an hour or two before you hit the shower.
Now, it’s time to get to business.
Choose The Best Shampoos And Conditioners
First thing’s first – you have to choose the best shampoos and conditioners for permed, curly hair.
Don’t go for ones with sulfates and alcohols, as these harsh detergents can strip much-needed moisture from your hair and leave it super dehydrated, contributing to daily frizz.
What your curls really need is moisture, so look for ingredients that are nourishing and will plump up your strands with hydration.
Look for ingredients like argan oil, shea butter, coconut oil, avocado oil, and more in your shampoo and conditioner combo.
Deep Conditioning Mask Or Protein Treatment
Once a week, switch out your conditioner with a deep conditioning mask or protein treatment.
These provide intense moisture, smoothen your locks, and strengthen your hair, which you need badly after a perm.
They also give you more bounce and body, giving life to your frizz-free curls.
When you’re done in the shower, don’t aggressively dry your hair by rubbing your cotton towel on it.
This causes friction, which is a trigger for frizz.
Instead, place a snag-free microfiber towel under your hair and squeeze to remove the excess moisture without disturbing your pretty curls.
Style Your Hair With The Right Products And Let It Dry Properly
There’s a lot more work to be done after you step out of the shower.
The first thing you need to do to combat frizz is to spray on some leave-in conditioner.
This is the base for your styling routine – it hydrates the hair, priming it for the rest of your products that should lock in all that moisture.
And now for the styling process.
You must use curly hair products now that you’ve gotten a perm.
It takes some getting used to if you’ve had straight hair all your life, but it’s going to be better for you.
Look for creams that help with curl definition so that they hold your spirals in place with no frizz.
Keep your eyes peeled for gels, creams, and styling serums that are infused with highly moisturizing products, like coconut oil, jojoba oil, shea butter, honey, and more.
These will help nourish your locks while keeping them defined.
Be gentle when applying your curling creams so that you don’t kill the curls and cause frizz.
Simply pat the cream into your locks and then scrunch upwards.
Define your curls by experimenting with different curling techniques.
Now, you may be asking, “I already had my hair permed! Why do I have to curl it more?”
Well, if you’re suffering from frizz, maybe your new curls just need a little extra help forming and keeping their shape.
Try finger-coiling to get perfect spirals while your hair is damp from the styling cream.
When you’re happy with your curls, let them relax and air-dry.
Air-drying causes less frizz than blow-drying and has absolutely no repercussions with heat damage.
Make sure you don’t touch your hair at all while it’s drying.
If you do, the oils and creams nourishing your hair will transfer over to your hands, leaving your hair dry.
You could also disrupt your luscious curls.
Try Not To Damage Your Hair More, As This Can Cause Even More Frizz
Don’t schedule even more salon appointments (aside from haircuts) after your perm.
A perm is a chemical process, which means it deals some degree of damage to your hair.
Don’t damage it further by getting other processes done, like coloring jobs, while it’s still healing.
Allow your hair to rest and recuperate after your perm for at least a few months before you go and have another chemical treatment done.
Focus instead on your hair’s recovery by moisturizing it constantly to repair it and keep frizz away.
Using hot tools can damage your hair, leading to frizz and breakage.
So as much as possible, lay off the heat-styling tools.
If you must blow-dry your hair on days when you’re rushing to get somewhere, always use a heat protectant.
This nourishes your hair and creates a barrier between your locks and the heat, minimizing damage.
You should also invest in satin hair tools and accessories.
Silk and satin are terrific for your hair because, unlike cotton, they don’t snag or cause friction – your hair simply glides on them instead of getting frizzy.
A bonnet is perfect for protecting your curls at night, even if you toss and turn in bed as you catch some Z’s.
When you wake up, your curls will be unharmed and frizz-free.
Hello, perfect spirals!
So if you haven’t already realized it by now, getting a perm isn’t as simple as sitting pretty in the parlor and waiting for the stylist to unveil your eternally flawless curls.
Most of the time, your permed hair won’t look as perfect in the days and weeks moving forward.
To maintain your curls’ beauty, you have to learn how to calm down a frizzy perm.
And if you’re not ready for that sort of commitment, there are ways to wash your perm out or at least loosen them up a little bit.
But if you’re ready to jump into the jungle that is crazy post-perm hair care life, let’s do it!
Tame your hair with the right shower routine and hair habits, and you’ll be rocking beautiful, defined, frizz-free curls from here on out.