How Long After a Perm Can You Wash Your Hair: Complete Guide

If you have ever watched the beloved movie ‘Legally Blonde,’ then you know the question of how long after a perm you can wash your hair is crucial.

Perms give hair a long-lasting shiny and curly look, but only if you take care of your hair correctly. Washing hair too soon can be disastrous, but just when can I wash my hair after a perm? Read on to find out this answer and more!

How Long After a Perm Can You Wash Your Hair
The recommended time frame to wash and shampoo permed hair is at least 48 hours after. If you can wait until 72 hours have passed, even better. Otherwise, the chemicals in your hair will get degraded, and your hair will return to its natural form.

washing permed hair

What’s a Perm, and What Are the Common Types of Perms?

A perm or permanent hairstyle is a hair treatment where chemicals change the form of your natural hair to a long-lasting curl. Perms change the core structure of your hair and break the bonds that make up your natural hair form. This process takes only about two to three hours in most salons. There are a few different styles of perms, depending on the curl type.

  • Spiral perm

This type of perm is usually done by rolling the hair vertically onto the perm rods, so you end up with long spirals. No two perms are the same, but most spiral curls are super tight and twisted, so you will have voluminous, bouncy hair for about six months.

  • Body wave perm

A body wave perm provides a natural wavy look hair. Large perm rods are used, so the curls are much more relaxed and look like waves. If you have straight hair but want loose waves, this is the perm style for you.

  • Beach wave perm

A beach wave perm is pretty self-explanatory. It provides a salty, beachy look with naturally messy waves. The process involves using soft sponge-like rollers instead of rods, so there is a slight ‘carefree’ feel as well.

stylist doing perm job

  • Pin curl perm

This type of perm is designed for people with short hair who want more volume. It forms tight and bouncy curls without using chemicals, but this means that the perm will last only three to five months.

  • Spot perm

A spot perm is applied only to a part of the hair instead of the whole head. This can be used to cover any thin spots or even out a curl pattern that is only on one side of your head. A spot perm can also be done only on the roots to add more volume to the hair.

  • Straight perm

This is a newer style of perm that has the opposite result of a traditional perm. It is for people with curly hair who want long-lasting straight hair. It is a Japanese style that involves using chemicals and a flat iron but is thought to be more damaging than a regular curling perm.

How Long After Perm Can You Wash Hair?

permed hair

When thinking of getting a perm, many questions come to mind, such as how long to wait to wash hair after a perm or can you shower after a perm. The rule of thumb is to wait at least 48 hours before you shampoo permed hair. Otherwise, you risk wasting money and time by ruining your fresh hairstyle.

If you can, then it is recommended to wait even 72 hours after the salon appointment before you wet the hair. The ingredients in the shampoo will interact with the chemicals used to perm your hair, and you will end up with an uneven frizzy mess.

So even though the answer to the question ‘can you shower after a perm?’ is yes, do so at least two days later. In the meantime, if your hair feels dirty, then you can use dry shampoo to freshen up. Make sure you are using a product suitable for permed hair, and you aren’t applying too much.

What if you wash earlier than 48 hours?

‘I washed my hair 24 hours after perm’ is a phrase many stylists hear after a panicked client calls. The level of disaster depends on the way you wash your hair. If you used a sulfate-free perm shampoo, then you can still save your whole perm, but if you used regular shampoo, then your new curls are very likely to fall and lose their shape.

It also depends on the perm style you have chosen. With tight curls, you may just slightly loosen them, but if you chose an already loose beach wave style, then there is probably no going back. The only thing you can do if you have washed your perm too early is co-washing.

Go out and buy a special conditioner meant for co-washing, gently use it for a few days, and hope for the best. So, if you are wondering, ‘can you wash your hair 24 hours after a perm’ then the answer is a strict NO.

permed mens hair

Can I wet my hair after a perm? (without shampoo)

While using just water on a fresh perm is certainly better than washing it with shampoo, it still isn’t recommended. The moisture may affect the chemicals and make the curls frizzy and loose.

So if you can, try to avoid wetting the perm for at least 48 hours; there is no reason to get a fresh perm. Once again, your answer to ‘can I wet my hair after a perm’ is also a no!

Permed Hair Washing Tips

Now that you know how long to wait to wash hair after perm, it’s time to move on to actually washing it.

When you wash hair, you strip the scalp of natural oils. With permed hair, you will already have lost a lot of the natural oils from the chemicals, so you must try to retain as much as possible.

Try to shower less if you have a perm, preferably every 4-5 days. Use a shampoo designed for perms, as these have special ingredients for moisture. If you can’t find a perm shampoo, opt for a sulfate-free shampoo designed for dry hair.

Always use conditioner to protect the curls, maintain their shape, and just keep your hair replenished.

What shampoo to use for permed hair?

Although we don’t have time to really dive into the best shampoos for permed hair, there are a few shampoo ingredients you should look for.

The main factor you will need in a perm shampoo is moisture. For this, look for formulas with olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, aloe vera, and shea butter. Any plant-based oil is a lifesaver for permed hair.

Hair shampoos or masks with clay will exfoliate and bring dull hair back to life but shouldn’t be used too often. Rosemary and honey are also great for moisture while also providing hair with a sleek shine.

For the answer to how to wash permed hair, I always say don’t shampoo too much! In fact, you should be using less shampoo than you would on regular hair to retain as much moisture and natural oil without letting hair get dirty.

There is no special technique to wash permed hair, just don’t use too much product and be as gentle as possible.

Can you use a hairdryer after a perm?

Since permed hair is chemically treated, it is more susceptible to heat damage from hair tools. Blow drying a perm is not recommended, as not only will it create frizz and loosen the curls, but it will also cause significant damage to the vulnerable hair.

If you must blow-dry, do it on the lowest setting and for as little as possible.

Should you use moisturizer after a perm?

Yes! If you want healthy permed hair, you must moisturize. When you shower, always use a nourishing shampoo and conditioner. It is also recommended to use some type of leave-in moisturizer treatment every day, whether that be an oil, a cream, or a spray.

Avoid using heat tools, and instead opt-for moisturizing curly hair products to style your beautiful new curls.

woman applying moisturizer to her hair

How to brush permed hair?

If you can, avoid brushing permed hair. Any type of comb will separate the curls and give them a frizzy appearance. You can use cream and your fingers to gently detangle any knots, but don’t use a brush.

Your chemically treated hair is highly vulnerable after a perm, and a brush will also pull on the scalp, most likely making the looser strands fall out immediately.


Can I wash my hair 36 hours after a perm?

If you can avoid it, then please don’t wash a perm after 36 hours. Permed hair should be washed at least 48 hours after the treatment; otherwise, you risk losing the curls and making hair frizzy.

How often should I wash my permed hair?

Permed hair should be washed much less than regular hair in order to retain much-needed moisture. Try to wash permed hair only once every 4-5 days. For particularly oily hair, you can wash every 3-4 days.

Can I condition my hair after a perm?

Conditioning is a must for permed hair! It will help keep the curls moisturized while also coating them with a protective layer.

In Conclusion

Everyone loves a good perm, but you should take care of your hair if you want to keep your curls bouncy and healthy.

Don’t wash your permed hair for at least two days once you step out of the salon, then always use moisturizing shampoos, conditioners, and serums afterward. Do you have any product recommendations for permed hair? Let us know down below!

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Allyson Carter

Ally is a professional hairstylist with more than 6 years of experience, but hair has been her passion since early childhood. Here, at Hair Spies, she blogs about all things hairdressing, hair tools, and everyday hair care. Read more about Allyson here.

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