How to Perm Your Own Hair at Home

There are some things you should consider before doing your own perm at home. If your hair is color treated, fine and fragile, damaged, doesn’t have good elasticity, or if you’ve tried perming your hair before and it didn’t take well, I would strongly suggest that you go to your professional stylist to get your perm and not do it at home. If you try to do it at home, it could cause severe fading of your color and/or hair breakage if you use the wrong perm or time it incorrectly.

Once you’ve decided that your hair is healthy and you can perm your own hair at home, you’ll need to decide what kind of a perm you’d like. Are you going for a completely new style? Do you just want to add a little texture to the style you have? Do you want something super curly? A perm is great if you have naturally straight hair and you want to be able to do more styles with it. A perm makes hard to curl hair more versatile and easier to manage. You’ll still be able to wear it straight if you’d like, but if you like to shake things up a little sometimes and go curly, the perm will make your hair more pliable and will help it to hold whatever style you can dream up. It also works well if your hair is too curly. Perming your hair using a larger rod will reshape your curls into something more manageable.

Now that you’ve decided how you want your hair to look, you’ll need supplies! The things you’ll need to do a perm at home are perming rods, wrapping papers, a plastic tail comb, plastic hair clips, old towels, a perming kit, and a good friend! Wrapping a perm can be challenging by yourself. The type of perming rods you’ll need depend on what shape curl you want. It’s mostly common sense: A skinnier rod will give you tighter curls whereas a larger rod will give you bigger curls. If you’re not sure what size to get, you can do some experimenting to get an idea. Pick up some perming rods in the size you think you’ll like, and after shampooing your hair add some styling product and wrap up a section or two of your hair Let it dry and then remove the rod. The size curl you see will be a good indication of what your perm will look like. You can also do a test curl if you want to pick up an extra perming kit. Instead of doing your entire head, just do one rod and see how it turns out. You can adjust the size of the rod your going to use from there.

Ok! So you’ve decided on a style, you’ve got your supplies (and your friend), now where to start? Here is How to Perm Your Hair 101:

1. Start with freshly shampooed hair Do not use a heavy conditioner on your hair before perming! This can keep the perming solution from absorbing into your hair Section your wet hair into 4 sections by doing a part right down the middle of your head (like you’re going to do pigtails), and then doing another part from about halfway back down the side of your head to the back of your ear. Clip up these sections with your plastic hair clips.

2. Starting at the top of one of the back sections, take a section of hair to wrap. Remember to never take a section that’s larger then the length or the circumference of the perming rod. Doing so will cause your hair to overdirect and/or pull which can cause breakage. It’s always better to take a smaller section than one that is too wide.

3. Comb the section of hair out straight and cover the ends of your hair with the wrapping paper by folding it in half around your hair If you’re having a hard time with this part, keep a water bottle handy. Spraying some water on the ends of your hair will help the protective wrapping papers “stick” where you want them. The most important thing to remember during this process is to make sure your ends are completely covered with the paper to protect them and keep them from splitting during the perming process.

4. Starting at the end of each protectively wrapped section, roll each section of hair around the perming rod. The most common way of doing this is to roll the hair under around the rod and secure it with the band when you reach the scalp being careful not to let the band cut into the hair If the band is too tight or causing too much stress on the hair it can cause breakage when the perming solution is applied. There are other ways you can roll your hair around the perming rod depending on what type of curl you’d like, but I would suggest sticking to this common procedure, at least for now. Continue this process until your entire head is rolled (or the section you want permed if you’re not doing all of your hair to suit your hairstyle), starting at the top of each section and working your way to the bottom.

5. Now you’re ready to apply the perming solution. There are basically two types of perms you can buy. One is an alkaline perm, and the other is an acid perm. An alkaline perm is for harder to perm hair such as gray or resistant hair that isn’t colored or damaged. An acid perm is a gentler perm and is recommended for easy to curl or color treated hair Follow the directions in your perming kit as to how to mix and apply the perming solution. This process basically breaks the disulphide bonds in your hair that give it it’s shape. Be sure and completely saturate all of the rods with the perming solution evenly and completely or you’ll end up with an uneven perm. You may need to get two perming kits if you have a lot of hair.

6. If directed, cover your hair with a plastic cap and set your timer for the duration indicated in the instructions. If you’re not sure how long to leave the perming solution on, you can do the “S-Test”. To do this, partially unwrap one section of hair from the perming rod. Gently push the hair towards the scalp until it bends. If you can see a prevalent “S” shape in the hair then your done. Once the perming solution has processed, you’re going to need to gently rinse your hair thoroughly. DO NOT REMOVE THE PERMING RODS.

7. After your hair is thoroughly rinsed with water, gently blot your hair in the rods until it’s only damp. Paper towels work well for this step to soak up the excess moisture. Now it’s time for the neutralizer. The neutralizer will reform the broken bonds of your hair into the new shape indicated by the perming rods. Following the directions in your perm kit, saturate the hair with the neutralizing solution. Save some of the neutralizer, you’re going to need it in a bit. Normally this stays on for five minutes.

8. Once you’re all neutralized, you can start gently unwrapping your hair When your hair is completely unwrapped, apply the remaining neutralizer to your hair making sure every strand is saturated. Rinse your hair with cool water, and you’re done!

Some things to remember after perming:

Do not shampoo your hair for 24-48 hours after perming! All of your hard work may be for naught if you forget and your perm falls out. If you have problems with frizziness, it’s OK to apply a little gel or something to tame it down. Rinsing your hair with just water is also ok.

Once you start shampooing your hair again, be sure and use a good moisturizing shampoo and conditioner to replenish what was lost after perming.

Try to avoid wrapping your wet hair up turban style in a towel and instead blot your hair dry. This will avoid stress and breakage on your new curls.

You CAN wear your hair straight after perming if you’d like. Although letting your hair dry naturally is best, it won’t hurt your perm to blow your hair out straight and/or using a straightening iron. Just make sure and use styling products for dry hair that will protect it from the heat of styling aids.

Never color your hair before perming! Always perm first if you’re going to do both. The perm will fade out your color. Also, it’s best to wait 2 weeks between each procedure.

Your new perm should last you between three and five months before you’ll have to touch it up. I hope this has been helpful! Remember, if you’re not confident in perming your own hair at home by yourself, you can always go see your local stylist!