Trends in fashion and beauty are often cyclical, with some old and faded styles suddenly (and surprisingly) back in vogue. This is certainly the case with the return of the perm, whose playful, curly-headed look has not seen this much action since the 1980s. Its current incarnation can be traced straight to the fashion runways, where some of the world's top models have been sporting soft, shaggy curls in lieu of pin-straight locks. But even if the modern perm looks fresher and cooler than the 80s version, it can still have the same damaging effects as its vintage cousin and should be conditioned with care.
Choose Your Products Wisely
Permed hair may look like the life of the party, but if you're not careful, it can turn brittle and dry. Hollywood stylist Sascha Breuer suggests choosing a conditioner that is moisture-rich (for nourishment) and loaded with protein (to combat the effects of heat). Also, to enhance those waves and loops, go for shampoos and conditioners that are made especially for curls. Conversely, avoid formulas that are too thick and creamy because they can weigh your hair down.
Professional hair stylists agree that you should wait at least two to three days to wet your hair after a fresh perm – water can disrupt the wave pattern before your new style totally sets. When it's time for a cleanup, start by shampooing your hair to get rid of dirt, oil and product buildup. After rinsing out the suds, towel-dry hair and use your fingers or a wide-toothed comb to detangle your locks. Apply enough conditioner to completely cover the hair, leaving about 2 inches of root untouched. Work the conditioner through. (Since curly hair can be even drier at the tips, pay extra attention to the ends when applying.) Let the conditioner sit for five to 10 minutes and then thoroughly rinse out.
Just say "no" to any hair regimens that include heat, like hot oil treatments or warm turban wraps. In fact, avoid heat styling altogether if you can. If you must use the hair dryer, don't forget the diffuser, or you could end up with a big frizzy mess on your hands. Also, stay away from products that contain alcohol, which can promote an overly dry head of hair. Swimmers should always wear a swim cap because chlorine strips natural oil from your hair, which you definitely want to hold onto after you've had a perm. And if you want to reward your hair with an extra dose of nourishment, a moisturizing overnight hair mask will do the trick.
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- Sutherlands Hair and Beauty: Perm
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Stacey is a freelance writer and stylist with a focus on fashion, lifestyle, design and pop culture. She has authored two books for Omnibus Press and has covered fashion weeks in New York and London.