If you’re used to washing your hair every day, it might seem odd to hear that you should wait to wash your hair after you get a perm. How long is the wait? What shampoo should you use? What if your hair still smells like chemicals?
As a cosmetologist with a professional license, I’ll answer these and other questions.
Should I Wash My Hair 24 hours After a Perm?
No, It’s better if you wait 48 hours after a perm to wash your hair. Some stylists say it’s best to wait 72 hours. If you can do that, fine. If not, it’s not strictly necessary, and 48 hours will do.
If your hair smells of chemicals and you’d like to get rid of the smell before 48 hours rolls around, use a light spritz of dry shampoo.
What Will Happen If I Wash Hair Too Early After a Perm?
Don’t wash your hair after only 24 or 36 hours have passed. If you do, any of the following could happen:
- Your curls might fall. The reason you have to wait is that it takes at least 48 hours for the final solution your stylist used to work its magic. Your hair bonds have already been reformed from straight to curly, but the final step locks the curly bonds into place. If you wash your hair too soon, you’ll wash away the chemical used in the final step before it’s had a chance to do its job.
- Your hair will try to go back straight. It won’t succeed, though, because the perm has already taken place. So you’ll end up with loose curls. That’s not bad if you wanted beach waves, but your curls will also be uneven. So you’ll have waves in parts and curls in other parts, and who knows how that will turn out.
- You’ll have significant frizz. Perm chemicals soften your hair cuticles and lift them so the perm can work inside the hair shaft. During the 48-hour wait period, your hair cuticles are closing and hardening. The cuticles are what protect your hair from damage. If you interrupt the hair cuticles while they are seeking to normalize, they might never do so. Then your hair will be overly porous and prone to extreme frizz.
So when you shower, wear a shower cap to protect your hair, and don’t make the shower too hot. A steamy shower might let moisture seep underneath the shower cap and ruin your hair.
When you finally wash your hair, use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner. Also, deep condition or do hot oil treatments at least once a week. These will help nourish your curls and keep them bouncy and frizz-free.
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