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How to Moisturize Permed Hair | Step-by-Step Guide

One of the biggest problems for hair in general, especially chemically treated hair, is dryness. Learn how to moisturize permed hair so that you can keep your tresses flowy and lush in our step-by-step guide below.

Moisturizing Permed Hair: A Summary

Understanding permed hair and how to care for it’s critical if you want to maintain healthy hair and avoid unnecessary damage. While there are multiple steps you can take to moisturize your hair, it’s more about the tips you should take to keep your hair hydrated regularly.

Follow these tips to keep frizz and breakage at bay:

  1. Don’t wash your hair every day
  2. Seal with heavy oil
  3. Secure your hair at night
  4. Use moisturizing products
  5. Deep condition bi-weekly
  6. Use conditioner instead of shampoo
  7. Avoid using heat

Keep reading to learn more about how a perm affects your hair and why moisturization is so essential.

What Is a Perm?

Perms have been around for quite some time, more than a century at this point. Women use chemical treatments to change their hair’s natural texture.

A perm makes straight hair curly or wavy; it’s called a perm because it permanently alters your hair structure by breaking the hair bonds and then resetting them. 

Two Primary Types of Perms

The two main types of perms are a hot perm, also called a digital perm, and a cold perm. The hot perm requires a relaxing treatment in your hair that splits the bonds and resets them.

The hairstylist will wrap your hair around curl rods. You determine how thick the curl rods are based on how tight or loose you want your curls to be. 

How To Moisturize Permed Hair in 7 Easy Steps

Following these tips and keeping your hair hydrated is the key to shiny, bouncy, healthy curls:

1. Don’t Wash Your Hair Every Day

It’s good to clean your hair to keep it smelling fresh and keep the curl bouncy instead of flat due to product buildup and weighing them down. However, understanding the way shampoo affects our hair is critical. 

When you wash your hair too many times in a short period, it will strip it of the natural oils in your scalp, taking away from the results of your perm more quickly. One wash a week is plenty to keep your hair clean and maintain the perm.

If you have particularly oily hair, you might consider a dry shampoo at the roots. Also, use warm water instead of hot water. The hot water will make your hair even dryer on top of the shampoo taking the oils away. The hot water can also damage your curls. 

Wash your hair with warm water and rinse thoroughly with cool water to seal the cuticle. Don’t leave any residue in the hair, as it can wear down the perm treatment over time, meaning you have to get a perm touch-up sooner than usual.

If you’re unsure how often to wash your hair, take our “how often should I wash my hair quiz.” It’s only 5 questions and will help you easily determine a washing routine!

2. Seal With Heavy Oil

It’s vital to understand that a sealing oil doesn’t put moisture into your hair; instead, it seals it into the strands. The oil costs your tresses in a barrier layer. It makes your hair shiny and keeps it hydrated.

Sometimes people use oils for their hair that aren’t heavy enough to lock in the moisture for an extended period. Before sealing your hair, apply a leave-in conditioner that moisturizes the hair. Here are the top three heavy sealing oils, some of which are also moisturizing oils (oils that hydrate the strands):

  • Jamaican black castor oil: (this isn’t the best choice if your hair is sensitive to protein) JBCO is viscous and thick and does an excellent job of protecting your hair from the elements and keeping the moisture inside. 
  • Grape seed oil: While grapeseed oil is a light oil that isn’t particularly heavy, it’s heavy enough for those with thin hair. In general, someone with thin hair shouldn’t get a perm because it can cause further thinning due to the chemicals. 
  • However, if you have already gotten a perm and, let’s say, it thinned your hair some, to restore it to health, try sealing with grapeseed oil. 
  • Jojoba oil: This oil most closely resembles the oils that naturally come from our scalps. It’s a little costlier than other oils, but it doubles as a moisturizing and sealing oil. Jojoba oil is perfect for thinning hair, thick hair, and thin hair. It also helps balance the pH levels of your scalp.

3. Secure Your Hair at Night

It’s crucial to secure your hair while sleeping because you can cause dryness and breakage if you allow your hair to flow freely.

The tossing and turning that people do, whether your hair is long or short, causes tangling, makes your hair matted, and will suck the moisture from your strands as you turn your head back and forth on the pillowcase. 

Remember that your hair is already more prone to tangling because your hair is curled instead of straight. The friction from turning your head puts unnecessary stress on your hair and also makes it frizzy. 

You can resolve this in a few different ways by finding a way to secure your hair overnight:

Try the pineapple method, which is pulling your curls up into a loose be in or top knot on your head. Cover your hair with a satin bonnet, or sleep on a satin pillowcase to prevent friction when turning your head and keep your hair shiny. 

Also, you can secure your hair in loose braids, two or three, which is even better because it prevents tangling and enhances the curls. If your hair is too short for a top knot or braids, you can leave it uncovered, but don’t try to force a ponytail or bun, as the tightness will harm your curls. 

4. Use Moisturizing Products

At this point, a conventional curling cream or even a finishing serum won’t be effective anymore. You’ll need unique products explicitly designed to tame frizz and enhance curls.

Be on the lookout for curl custards, gels, and mousses that contain honey, coconut oil, aloe, and avocado oil. These specific ingredients have a moisturizing effect and most likely will impact your hydration levels throughout your curls immediately.

Implementing these products into your daily hair regimen will go a long way in protecting your hair from harsh weather conditions. However, make sure that you don’t put too much product in your hair, as it could weigh down your curls and cause them to be greasy.

5. Deep Condition Bi-Weekly

Your new curls will present a problem for your natural hair oils. They have a more difficult time traveling down the hair shaft when your hair is curly instead of straight. 

Deep conditioner and the chemicals it consists of will soften and hydrate hair damaged by chemical processing such as perming or adding color to your hair. It provides the same benefits for hair with too much heat exposure and hair over-saturated with medication.

Moreover, using a deep conditioner will enhance your hair elasticity by replenishing moisture, allowing your hair to withstand tension and stretch better. If you imagine that your hair is a rubber band, the more elasticity it possesses, the longer it can withstand tension and stretching before breaking. 

The same thing goes for hair that is sufficiently hydrated. When applying the deep conditioner, allow it to sit for 30 minutes before rinsing after you’ve washed your hair; this will give your hair extra moisture before you style it.

6. Use Conditioner Instead of Shampoo

For starters, shampoo strips the oils for your hair quite naturally, and it’s antithetical when trying to retain moisture. The hair care industry continues to change and innovate, and as new products become available on the market, you should revamp your hair care routine to get in line with the better ways to care for your precious locks.

The reason for co-washing has everything to do with preserving your natural oils within your locks while giving it a gentle cleanse simultaneously. This will give your hair better hydration and minimize color stripping for those with colored hair. 

The ultimate objective is to ensure that the hair is healthier. Additionally, there is less of the notorious stripping and replenishing cycle that washing and conditioning hair creates. Furthermore, a cleansing conditioner is an excellent option for all hair types.

This method eliminates the need for suffering through weeks of greasy hair before your scalp returns to equilibrium and regains a clean appearance.

Cleansing conditioners also can cut through product buildup and environmental debris while at the same time retaining the natural oils of the scalp. However, it’s just fine to use shampoo once a month to wash your hair thoroughly. You can think of this wash as a sort of reset for your hair.

7. Avoid Using Heat

As is the case with the blow dryer—use all heated tools very sparingly. Flat and Curling irons can easily damage hair that is already weakened and stressed out. These tools can cause your hair to break in the worst-case scenario.

Steam is an excellent source of moisture that you can use to reactivate your curls. Just wrap your hair in some rollers, or you can simply use a shower cap.

Then you get in the shower and allow the steam from the shower to do its magic, and when you’re done, you’d have added volume and moisture to your hair without causing damage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Woman who is learning how to moisturize permed hair getting a perm at a salon


Below you’ll find the most common responses to asked questions concerning how to permed hair moisturized:

How Long Do You Have to Wait to Wet Your Hair After a Perm?

The rule of thumb is to wait at least 48 hours before wetting your locks. This will give the cuticles time to close, harden, and all the hair’s pH to return to normal. This allows for the perm to last much longer.

How Can I Safely Remove My Perm?

The best and safest way to remove your perm is to do nothing and allow it to grow out. If you wish to take other measures, speak to your hairstylist about safe ways to undo your perm. Keep in mind that these alternatives may cause even more damage to your hair.

Do Perms Damage Your Hair?

Perms are indeed damaging to your hair; this is especially true for people who get perms regularly. If the perm lasts long, the entire hair strand gets subjected to chemicals that can severely damage and weaken the hair. However, if you can avoid other chemicals such as highlights or permanent colors, your hair is much less likely to be damaged because of perm.

What Products Enhance the Curls From a Perm?

You’ll want to use hydrating products to moisturize your curls without drying them out. Curl-enhancing creams and mousse are excellent options to achieve this effect.

Can You Perm Relaxed Hair?

Perming relaxed hair isn’t recommended due to the chemicals which are involved. Perms contain ammonium thioglycolate, and relaxers contain sodium hydroxide. When these two chemicals are combined, they will cause hair breakage. It's better to cut off all of the permed hair before relaxing it and vice versa.

How Long Do Perms Last in Your Hair?

When a perm is cared for properly, it can last three to six months. It all depends on the texture and length of your hair.

So, How Do You Moisturize Permed Hair?

Perming your hair conjures a roller coaster of emotions, from excitement to nerve-racking. However, the results will be well worth the stress and excitement. The best thing that you can do is follow all of the prevention tips without deviation.

Keep your hair moisturized, and don’t allow it to become dry. On the other hand, if your hair is already in a dry state and damaged, following the tips coupled with heavy and hydrating products will transform your hair into a soft and bouncy state in a snap!