Back in September, I made the decision to get my hair permed. My hair had been curly all my life, up until a couple of years ago when I wrote this post on my hair journey and shortly afterwards realised that my curls had actually gone, and they weren’t coming back. For about 6 months, I accepted that my hair would never be back to its former glory naturally, and took to straightening it and adding waves with my straighteners. But I felt like I had lost my identity- my curly hair has always been my trademark (I put it on the introduction to my CV, for God’s sake) and I knew I couldn’t carry on without it anymore.
So, I took the plunge and went for it! I’ve had my perm for long enough now to know how to take care of it, and I wanted to share my routine with anyone else thinking of getting a perm, anyone who has one, or any fellow curly-haired people out there who are looking for new products to try.
It took me a while to decide where to get my perm done, and whether it was definitely what I wanted to do. But once I did some internet research and found that it’s still perfectly safe to straighten/restyle your permed hair without losing the curl, I thought ‘Why not?’ I wanted my hair to be essentially the same as it used to be- curly when left to dry naturally, therefore pretty low-maintenance- but with the option to straighten it when I felt like it. This was basically a promise of that, which is why I went ahead with it.
The salon I went to very rarely did perms, as is the case with many, as it does have the stigma attached that they’re just for little old ladies with blue rinses. However, they ordered the chemicals in specially, and I finally went to get it done. The price nearly made me weep (luckily I had a 25% discount, otherwise my jaw literally would have hit the floor) as it was over £100 without discount for a haircut and perm. This is coming from someone who only has their hair cut every 6 months or longer, because I hate spending money on it when I usually don’t like how they’ve cut or styled it, so it was pretty tough to hand over my hard-earned cash (especially when I had to sit looking like this for half an hour…)
You can see my finished result above, which was a little bit alarming if I’m honest! I was definitely channeling post-makeover Olivia Newton-John in Grease for a while there. This was more to do with the styling than anything else- the hairdresser put so much gunk in my hair and then diffused it to within an inch of its life (now can you see why I don’t like going to the hairdressers?) It was a relief when I could finally wash it 3 days later and style it my own way.
My perm has relaxed a fair bit since then, but not as much as I initially thought which I’m actually quite grateful for! Now that I’ve grown used to it, I realised I don’t like my fringe being curly and prefer to straighten the very front bits so I look a bit more polished, and this is the day-to-day look I usually go for as it just feels a lot more ‘me’. I have also established a fairly effective haircare routine, which is pretty much the same as it used to be when my hair was naturally curly, with the addition of a diffuser.
Washing & Conditioning
After using it previously and being really impressed with how it left my hair feeling, my first choice post-perm was the Pantene Pro-V Repair & Protect Shampoo & Conditioner (the one that Ellie Goulding, my ultimate girl-crush, advertises FYI) I could maybe be using a formula specifically geared towards chemically-treated hair, but this works really well to keep my hair super-soft and (as much as is possible for me) frizz-free. It definitely doesn’t leave any build up or weigh my hair down (although it sometimes could do with it!) and it’s so reasonably priced for even the largest bottles which last aaaages.
I only really need to wash my hair every 2-3 days, because it doesn’t get greasy very quickly, and the texture it has helps to hide this on the last day anyway. I could probably go longer, but when I start getting that icky feeling around my scalp and it gets unmanageably frizzy, I know it’s time for a wash. It’s generally a rule that you wash curly hair as infrequently as you can, because it does stop it getting too dry and frizzy from constant washing and styling.
I’m really bad with conditioning masks- I should really be doing one once a week to keep frizz at bay, but as I usually wash my hair in the morning before work, I rarely have time to leave it on for the time it needs to work. However, the mask I’ve been using since I had my perm is the L’Oreal Extraordinary Oil Mask– another really affordable gem that leaves your hair feeling really silky and hydrated.
Once I’ve towel dried my hair, I spritz it all over with the Aussie Miracle Recharge Moisture Infuser Leave-in Conditioner, which is just an absolute dream and miracle product if you ask me. It smells incredible, and gives my hair that extra hydration boost it needs before I turn the diffuser on it.
I’ll then diffuse my hair in roughly four sections- the bottom layer and top layer of hair on each side- until it’s still damp but has a bit of shape. Then I’ll grab my Umberto Giannini Curl Friends Ultimate Curls Nourishing Oil and Curl Scrunching Jelly– I’ll add 3 pumps of oil and a 5p-sized blob of the jelly into my palms and squelch (eugh, what a horrible word) it together, then go to town on the scrunching on one side of my head, then use the same amount of product on the other side and repeat. I mainly focus on the underneath layer of my hair, as this seems to curl less and it’s longer than the top layer and needs more product to keep the bounce.
Next, I’ll go back to my diffuser and, using the same rough four sections, scrunch the hair up to my scalp and leave the diffuser on each section for about 20 seconds at a time on a medium-high heat to set the product and give me some lovely spiral curls. Then I’ll scrunch it all over with my hands once it’s about 80% dry to give it a more natural look and help it to dry off a bit more.
I’ll use the hair dryer to blast out my fringe so it’s a bit smoother, then run over it with the straighteners (and any other wild bits at the front and at the roots) until I’m happy. I usually pin back my fringe at the moment as it’s getting pretty long and isn’t very obedient at the moment.
If I haven’t washed my hair in the morning, then I’ll perk up my curls by using a spray bottle (I use an empty Aussie Leave-in Conditioner one) with a few good squirts of conditioner in shaken well with water (about 1 part conditioner to 7 parts water). It’s basically a slightly more diluted leave-in conditioner that’s a lot cheaper to make and does the job of keeping my curls soft and refreshed, without getting too frizzy. Once I’ve given my hair a light spritzing, I have a good scrunch, and if it still looks a bit droopy then I’ll scrunch in a bit more of the Umberto Giannini jelly and oil mixture on the ends.
So, there you have it! I’m really happy with my hair at the moment, and I really feel like I’ve got the hang of caring for it and achieving the look that I want on most days. I would definitely recommend a perm if you’re wanting a versatile, low-maintenance hair style that opens up so many hair styling possibilities and gives you a whole new look. It may sound like a do a lot to mine and that it takes ages, but it really doesn’t. When I think of how long it took me to blow-dry and straighten, and usually curl, my hair with the straighteners every other morning before work, there’s definitely no comparison. It really is the best of both worlds for me, as on some weekends when I fancy a sleeker style and have the time, I can still straighten and style my hair however I like.
I hope some of you have found this post useful, whether you’re already curly-haired or are thinking of getting a perm! If you have any more questions about perming, please get in touch as I love spreading the perm love and helping people out. You can also watch the video here that I filmed for my YouTube channel just after getting my perm to give you a better insight into my hair journey.