How To Fix Perm-Damaged Hair

Last Updated on January 6, 2023 by Evelyn Davies

Written by Evelyn Davies

So, you have damaged hair after a perm and are seeking advice on how to fix it? Luckily, I’m a hairdresser, and a writer, so you get a little professional advice.

First of all, the decision to perm your hair should not be taken lightly. This process can be destructive, and really needs a hair professional. Perming hair is a process. We put rollers in the hair and use a solution that breaks structure bonds in the hair. We then fix the hair in place with a second chemical process. (There are more steps to this but I’m simplifying the language for a non-professional.) Obviously, if we break bonds that give our hair structure, this process is invasive.

Woman with permed hair-back view

So, Do Perms Damage Hair?

Well, the answer to this is situational. As I say, it’s invasive to the structure of your hair, so factors need to be considered when perming. If your hair is damaged already, yes perms can damage hair further. If you don’t follow a stylist’s advice, yes perms can damage your hair. If the process has not been done correctly, yes perms can damage hair. If precautions are in place, you go to a professional, you have a good consultation, and your hair type and condition are considered in the perming process, the answer is no. Perms can give beautiful results, bringing the desired change in hair texture.

Damaged Hair After Perm Because it Was Washed too Soon

There could be a few factors to the ”damage” so let’s look a little further into it. Did you follow the stylist’s aftercare advice? Usually, I’ve seen stylists recommend not to wash the hair 48hrs after an in-salon perm. This is because the process is still setting in after you leave the salon, so it’s best to not wash it. Washing it can disturb the curl forming.

If it’s washed too soon and you have frizzy disturbed curls or lost your curl, you need to go back to the salon and own up. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix for this. To perm again, in my professional opinion, you should wait for at least 2 months. However, depending on the state of the hair, a stylist may not be willing to fix it. That’s because it is in a really compromised condition, we may not want to put more invasive chemicals on your hair. So, listen to your hairstylist, we don’t make this stuff up.

gorgeous woman with permed hair experiences hair breakage

Hair Breakage After Perm

Now if this is the case, I’m sorry but you may have had a perm that wasn’t suitable for your hair condition. There is no quick fix for chemically damaged hair, and if it is breaking, it’s pretty serious. I recommend not doing any chemical treatments, and working on the strength of your hair. So, hair products/treatments for proteins are made to build strength and I recommend deep conditioning treatments.

Breakage can also happen when you have been coloring your hair at home with colors that contain metallic salts. All the more reason not to use store-bought color – the metallic salts can cause a reaction with the perm lotion and cause hair to break off.

Do I Have Hair Loss from A Perm

Hair loss can be a confusing subject. If your hair loss from a perm is not from the root, in the lengths, it may be breakage. So, if you’re not seeing thinner hair at the root or bald patches, refer to the above paragraph for breakage. You may have thinner feeling hair from it breaking off after a perm.

gorgeous woman with permed hair experiences hair loss

Hair Loss at the Scalp After a Perm

The PH level of a perm varies depending on the type of perm applied. An alkaline perm may venture further away from your scalp PH level, disrupting the scalp. This can also happen with acidic perms too. If the scalp gets irritated, it can cause damage to the skin, which is where the hair grows from. Then damages the hair follicle and causes hair loss at the scalp. Perming solutions are chemicals and there will always be risks when putting this on your hair/skin. However, it’s pretty rare to experience hair loss from a perm.

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How To Fix Hair Loss After a Perm

If you are experiencing thinner hair on the scalp after a perm, I’m sorry this is happening to you. If the hair loss is from the scalp and the hairstylist took your needs into account, it is just unfortunate that your scalp has reacted this way. It can happen sadly. The issue is at the scalp, so I recommend scalp treatments for hair loss. Nioxin has a fantastic range of products for this. Also, scalp massages stimulate blood flow and air to the follicles, which helps with hair growth.

What goes into your body comes out – eat a well-balanced diet. I have seen a friend lose hair due to a lack of folic acid in her blood. Which is found in leafy greens! If you are experiencing long-term loss or are extremely worried, go to a doctor… the scalp can also react to many factors in your life, and it could even be something that was always going to happen, with, or without a perm.

gorgeous woman with dry permed hair

Dry Frizzy Hair After a Perm

How frizzy are we talking about? If it is so dense you cannot get a comb through it, or it’s stringy and stretchy like elastic that doesn’t spring back to a normal curl form or hair texture, your perm may be over-processed. If it is just frizz and not damaged maybe you could re-perm in the future to re-form the curl, but you may have to wait a few months.

If it’s doing the chewy stretchy thing, where the hair sticks together, your hair is on the brink of breakage. Work on the internal strength of the hair, protein-rich penetrating conditioning treatments, and faith is all you can do.

Perm Gone Wrong Quick Fix

The only quick fix I can think of for a really overprocessed perm is cutting it off. There’s no magic formula for this, it takes time, and it’s why you really should consider the factors of having a perm. Do your research, and go to an experienced stylist that does perms. Cutting a lot of hair off can be liberating. If you cannot bear to be short there are some really great wigs on the market these days, and you could get your stylist to cut it like your hair before if you didn’t want people to know you have a wig, or you could have fun with it too and try different colors and textures.

gorgeous woman with frizzy permed hair

I Have Frizzy Hair After a Perm

So, curls are completely different to deal with compared to smoother natural textures. I would hope your hairstylist gives you some styling tips for dealing with curls after a perm because they do need a hand to style. Wash and go is a nice idea, but sometimes I find curly hair takes more work than smooth hair types. If you’re lucky, your perm may need a hand in styling and it’s more of a knowledge issue for you.

Tips For Washing Curly Frizzy Permed hair

Every stylist will have their favorite products for dealing with curls, so mine is personal to me and my clients, but I will explain why. I love OLAPLEX SHAMPOO after perms. Also, OLAPLEX no1 can be used during perming to help with the condition of the hair. This is because the products have a patented formula to rebuild broken bonds in the hair.

After permed hair is shampooed, only use a wide-toothed comb and a normal conditioner if it’s your first wash. If it’s after your first wash and you are frizzy, deep conditioning treatments can be used. I recommend a penetrating conditioner for building strength If you get breakage. If you’re not experiencing breakage, I recommend a conditioner for Moisture. Once your treatment/conditioner has been combed through and left on for 5-10 minutes, squeeze or blot the water out with a towel, DO NOT SCRUB.

Scrubbing can disturb the work you have done smoothing the outer layer of your hair with the comb. Your hair structure has scales called ‘cuticles’ They overlap and face downwards like roof tiles and protect the inner part of your hair, which is, where the perm has reformed the bonds. So, looking after the outside will look after the inside of the hair. Also, rough unsmoothed cuticles can cause frizz so comb through your conditioner.

Beautiful sportive woman with blond curly hair

Styling Products for Frizzy Permed Hair

So, you’re trying to tame the frizzy hair after perm curls with some products. I really like a bit of control when it comes to frizzy curls, so for me, I find oils and creams soften the hair but don’t really contain it. I really like a particular mousse called Sculpting Foam by Paul Mitchell.  That’s because this product is a styling mousse but it contains a leave-in conditioner. It controls and conditions, and it’s so flexible, I use it on straight hair too. So, no 80s perm crispy hair mousse here.

For extra condition after perms I love Sebastion Potion 9 as a detangler, leave in, curl crème. I sometimes use this in conjunction with a mousse but it totally depends on how much control you need.

Style Techniques for Damaged Permed Hair

So, once you have followed the steps above for washing and styling, I like to do a twist technique to guide the curls. Take sections of hair and twist them from the root around your finger to create a coiled effect. Once all the hair is coiled, air dry or diffuse. NO SCRUNCHING WHILE WET WITH HANDS. (Wet scrunching encourages frizz) Then once it’s dry, separate the coils with your hands. Hopefully, you should have smoother curls and less frizz. If not, your hair may be chemically damaged, please refer to the paragraphs above.

gorgeous blonde woman with permed hair

About the author

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Our writer Evelyn Davies is a traveling hairdresser with lots of hairdressing experience from all over the world. She also writes informative hair care blogs and has extensive knowledge of the industry. Evelyn has experience working as an artistic educator in the UK along with media hairdressing and writing for magazines. She has also owned her own salon for 4 years. On top of that, she now works freelance hairdressing in Amsterdam. Interested in business, the environmental impact of hairdressing, hair-related media, and all things hair. She also loves the outdoors, surfing, hiking, travel, and well-being.

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