Getting a perm is a great way to transform your hair by adding body, volume, and serious attitude.
There are a number of rules and rumors surrounding good perm maintenance, however, and some of these are more accurate than others.
Sleeping on newly permed hair is an ongoing source of contention, and so we have done the research, drawn the conclusions, and put together everything you need to know about sleeping on permed hair, ensuring that you can enjoy your new ‘do for longer.
What Is A Perm?
A “perm” refers to a specific type of hairstyle that is achieved by arranging and setting hair in waves, curls, or ringlets.
The hair is then treated with chemicals and heat, and this allows the curls to remain for several months at a time, eliminating the need to curl or style your hair on a regular basis.
Does Sleeping Ruin Your Perm?
The belief that sleeping on a new perm will ruin it is one that has prevailed for decades – but it is a belief that is wholly inaccurate.
Sleeping on a new perm can cause your curls to go limp, and may make your hair a little frizzier and trickier to tame, but there is no evidence that sleeping on a perm will cause it to drop out completely.
One of the easiest ways to maintain your curls is to ensure that you get into the habit of using a good curl cream before bed.
This will protect the form and shape of your hair, allowing you to wake up with fresh, bouncy curls each morning.
In addition, there are a number of other tricks and techniques that you can use to prolong the life of your perm, and we will take a close look at these below.
How To Protect Newly Permed Hair While Sleeping
There are a number of tricks and techniques that you can use to help protect your perm while you sleep, and some of the most important elements include:
Use Curl Cream Before Bed
As we have mentioned, you should always apply a good quality curl cream to your freshly permed hair before going to bed, as this will help to keep your curls moisturized and protected overnight.
This also helps to prevent frizz as much as possible – which can be more of an issue with permed hair.
Change Your Pillowcase
If your hair is particularly prone to frizz, you can help to reduce this by switching to a silk or satin pillowcase.
The natural fibers of this material reduce the friction and stress on your hair, causing less rubbing on the hair shaft.
This is what usually results in frizzy, hard-to-manage hair. A silk pillowcase allows the hair to glide more effortlessly, keeping your hair smooth and sleek.
Avoid Tying Your Hair Up
It is a good idea to avoid tying your hair up as much as possible in the first few days.
In this stage, your curl pattern is still fragile, and using hair elastics, scrunchies, or other methods to tie back your hair can damage the overall integrity and structure of the curl.
Leave hair loose while you sleep to preserve the shape and keep your hair curly for longer.
Don’t Wash Your Hair Right Away
As any fan of great movies will be well aware, you need to keep your hair dry in the days immediately following your perm.
Experts recommend that you avoid wetting or washing your hair for a minimum of 48 hours after receiving your perm treatment.
Water can deactivate the ammonium thioglycolate – the key compound in perming lotions, and the secret to your curls.
If you usually wash your hair before bed, this is a habit you will need to refrain from for a minimum of 48 hours.
Let Hair Air Dry
Life is busy and hectic, and so many of us choose to take our shower in the evening, rather than dashing about in the early hours.
This ensures that there is less pressure, and gives you enough time to wash your hair thoroughly.
The most important thing here for perms is to use the right shampoo. There are a number of products dedicated to curly hair and perms, so a little research should lead you to the perfect product.
After lathering and conditioning, rinse the product off to not leave any residue on your curls; leaving shampoo or conditioner risks making your hair sticky, as well as more prone to collecting dirt and debris.
Washing and rinsing thoroughly also makes it easier to dry your perm.
Once you have washed your curls, let them air dry naturally.
This is the kindest and most gentle method – it doesn’t destroy the structure of your curls, and removes the risk of damaging your locks with excess heat.
If you are washing your hair close to bedtime, or simply want to drift off soon, you can use a microfiber towel to speed up the process, because this material will help reduce frizz.
A cotton t-shirt can have the same effect; simply scrunch your hair lightly with your hands and the material, and avoid the temptation to rub your curls.
Keep Curls Conditioned
The chemical process and techniques used in perming can often result in dry hair, and so good conditioning is essential.
Once the initial 48 hours have passed, you can use a leave-in conditioner, distributed evenly with a wide-toothed comb, to keep curls soft and manageable.
It is recommended that you carry out a deep conditioning treatment around once a week.
A protein treatment can also be a useful addition to your hair care routine; while perms look great, there is no denying that they alter the structure of your hair, and this may cause unexpected damage.
A protein treatment can help to rehabilitate breakage and strengthen curl patterns, while also acting as an extra layer of protection for chemically treated hair.
Protein treatments contain essential fatty acids, vitamin E, amino acids, and other minerals.
They’re an all-encompassing treatment and are applied only once or twice a month. Products can be left on your hair for 20 to 30 minutes before rinsing, and you will see and feel the difference after a few treatments.
Hair serum and hair oil are also great options. Hair serums help you achieve a shinier and smoother look all through your hair and protect your hair from pollution and prolonged sun exposure.
You only need to apply a few drops of this on damp hair and go from your roots to your ends, and this is a great addition to a morning or quick styling routine.
Hair oil, on the other hand, has more to do with nourishing your hair strands. You can apply it on damp or dry hair and should evenly distribute it across your mane.
There’s no need to start from your roots. It controls frizz and hydrates individual strands, so you wake up with shiny hair each morning.
Related: How long do perms last?
Adding color to your hair immediately following a perm increases the risk of damaging it; hair may become over-lightened, over-processed, or dry and brittle enough to result in serious damage.
It’s a good idea to always wait for a minimum of two weeks post-perm before adding a new color.
Always speak to your hairdresser before you decide to add color to permed hair, or before adding any new chemical processes once the perm is in place.
Additional Reading: How Do Hair Extensions Work?
Learning how to take care of your new perm is an important part of ensuring that your hair looks and feels its best on a daily basis.
By adding just a few simple changes into your routine, you can enjoy luscious curls for longer, and make sure that every day is a great hair day!