How To Wash Permed Hair: 8 Best Shampoo for Permed Hair

You don’t have to wash permed hair every day.

That makes it all the more important to choose a good shampoo and conditioner for permed hair.

Treated hair needs more care, so we have to consider the best formulation for sensitive scalp and different hair types.

Lucky for you, we have just the guide to help you determine what type of shampoo will best suit your needs, and how to wash permed hair.

Just jump right in, so we can find one that’s perfect for maintaining your perm too!

Things to consider when choosing a good shampoo for permed hair

There are more things to consider than your preferred scent in a shampoo.

You have to consider your hair type, scalp condition, and other factors to find a formulation that’s safe and compatible with your roots and strands.

Hair type

Before your perm, did you have naturally fine, curly, coarse, or wavy hair?

The answer matters because your natural hair type still plays a huge role in helping you decide which shampoo is best for you.

Fine hair tends to be oilier than most. This could mean greasier curls in between washes. To get around this, try using clarifying or volumizing shampoo to promote balanced oil production and a well-defined perm.

Naturally curly and wavy hair can be drier and frizzier than other types.

One reason is that natural oils have a harder time traveling down elaborate twists and ringlets. This is made even more difficult by a tight perm. To lock in essential oils, use a moisturizing shampoo. Humectants will help in achieving a smoother and shinier curl.

For dyed or bleached hair, anti-breakage shampoos and sulfate-free purple shampoos may be your best bet. They're specially formulated for chemically-treated hair. So they are gentle on your roots while still maintaining the vibrant shades of your hair.

Scalp health 

When you get a perm, your scalp may become irritated, leading to dryness, redness, and scaliness.

Perm chemicals are applied near your roots, so there’s a risk of hair loss. It's the same, whether you did your own perm at home using perm rods, or had it professionally done at a salon.

To avoid this, we should learn how to maintain our scalp’s health.

Dry scalp is often tight, itchy, and flaky. Using products with humectants, such as aloe or glycerin, can help restore the moisture a dry scalp needs and promote balanced oil production.

Tea tree oil or apple cider vinegar can control bacterial build-up and achieve normal pH levels within your scalp. They also help reduce oil production and flare-ups.

Apart from using the right shampoo, how often you wash your hair matters too. An oily scalp may require shampooing once a day, but be careful not to overwash. Those with dry scalp, though, should only be washed once a week.

Ingredients

Surfactants are foaming agents which cleans dirt and grease off a surface. They are the main component of soap, detergents, and of course, shampoos. But common foaming agents such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and ammonium lauryl sulfate are harsh scalp irritants.

Choose relatively safer alternatives such as sulfoacetates and cocamide, which come from coconut and palm oils. They’re more skin-friendly but are still effective foaming agents.

Parabens and formaldehyde are often added as preservatives to extend shampoo’s shelf life. But they’ve been linked to some serious health issues.

Some ingredients can be good or bad, depending on your hair or scalp type.

Dimethicone, for example, is a type of silicone that can impart a silky feel to your curls, making it great for coarse hair. Unfortunately, dimethicone can cause product build-up and leave your curls looking limp and dull. 

Often used as a thickening agent, sodium chloride (salt) is inherently safe and works as a preservative and cleaning agent. But it can draw out moisture which is not good for dry hair.

Not all chemicals, though, are harmful.

While the term “acid” can seem alarming, amino acids are anything but. They are the building blocks of protein and aid in maintaining a healthy pH level, hair density, and tensile strength.

Another important inclusion would be glycerin, as it is a capable moisturizer and a great addition to any formulation for permed hair.

Side effects

Some shampoos may work for you in the beginning but can cause side effects after a while.

If you start to experience itchiness, flakiness, acne, or even balding, it might be time to switch shampoos. Some chemicals are innately harmful, but other times, we might simply be allergic to certain ingredients.

If this is the case, opt for organic formulations or those with less harmful chemicals. Find one that has little to no side effects on your skin while still maintaining healthy, bouncy, and shiny curls effectively.

Budget, size, and availability

Taking care of your perm shouldn't equate to splurging on hair products. It’s very much possible to have healthy-looking curls on a budget.

If you haven’t found the perfect shampoo for yourself yet, there’s no shame in asking for samples if they’re available. Smaller sizes are great too because they’re usually more affordable, if not free.

Once you find a formulation that ticks all your boxes, find a local store that supplies it. Suppose it isn’t readily available in your area. In that case, it might be better to purchase your shampoo in bigger sizes and in bulk online — unless you don’t mind looking for another one altogether.

Be on the lookout for promos too! Some brands have shampoo-conditioner bundles, which could save you tons in the long run. 

Types of shampoo

Permed hair needs extra care, so try to avoid using a regular shampoo if you can. Listed below are a few shampoo types that can be used on permed hair, depending on your hair needs and preferences. 

The best shampoo for perms can be any of the following types. It all depends on what your hair needs!

Clarifying shampoo

Clarifying shampoos are meant to detoxify your locks.

They strip your hair of residues and excess oils that weigh your hair down. To ensure a deep cleanse, they contain a lot of surfactants. So, be careful to use them sparingly or risk drying your hair.

Anti-breakage and restorative shampoo

If you’ve dyed or chemically treated your hair before perming, use an anti-breakage and restorative shampoo. They usually have keratin, amino acids, and other proteins that fortify hair strands and protect them from further damage.

Moisturizing shampoo

Curly and wavy hair tends to be dry, so moisturizing shampoos are a great choice for hydrating and rehabilitating them. They usually contain aloe vera, shea butter, or glycerin, as these ingredients provide and lock moisture into your roots.

Volumizing shampoo

This is great for fine hair. It defines your curls and gives it an extra boost, so it doesn’t look limp and dull despite waiting a day or two before the next wash.

Dry shampoo

Dry shampoo isn’t exclusively for dry hair. It’s called that because you can use it without having to wash your hair after. It’s best used in between wash schedules as it effectively reduces oil and dirt when sprayed onto your hair.

Our Top Picks: Best Shampoo for Permed Hair

What is the best shampoo and conditioner for permed hair?

Well, no single formula can cater to everyone’s needs. Given the salient points above, we’ve listed some of our picks below. There’s a recommendation for both oily and dry scalp and everything in between! 

1. Garnier Fructis Shampoo

Garnier’s Fructis Curl Nourish Fortifying Shampoo does not contain any sulfates but has coconut-derived surfactants instead. These foaming agents are safe and skin-friendly for both your hair and skin. They create a rich lather and effectively remove the oil and dirt from your curls without stripping off the oils you need.

It contains no parabens or dyes as well but is instead infused with coconut oil and glycerin. These humectants help lock in the moisture and ensure frizz-resistant curls. This shampoo also comes with an exclusive fruit protein formula that visibly nourishes and fortifies your strands.

Garnier also offers a Fructis conditioner and buttercream, which perfectly complement this formulation. Together, these three products provide total nourishment for shiny, smooth, and strong curls while imparting a pleasant coconut scent to your hair.

PROSCONS
Combines coconut oil and glycerin to lock in moisture Nourishing shampoo that contains fruit proteins and beneficial acids Great for dry or frizzy hair Best sulfate free shampoo for permed hairNot appropriate for oily scalp

2. Arvazallia Advanced Hair Repair Shampoo

Arvazallia has released a shampoo infused with argan and macadamia oil to revitalize dry and damaged hair. That said, it’s great for permed hair that’s constantly styled with heat or has undergone recent chemical treatment.

When used with the kit’s conditioner and hair mask, it reduces split ends, and hair becomes more manageable. Best of all, these products don’t leave residues that could collect dirt and grease and ultimately weigh your hair down.

Not many manufacturers succeed in formulating a versatile shampoo, but Arvazallia has made the formula work for various hair types, including permed curls. Considering that, we can certainly forgive its steep price tag.

PROSCONS
Retains and protects natural curls Adds volume and definition to your perm Great for color-treated hairExpensive, because it comes in a set of 3

3. Shea Moisture Curl and Shine 

The Shea Moisture Curl and Shine Shampoo is another coconut-scented favorite. It contains no sulfates, silicones, and parabens, so it gives your curls a healthy, shiny bounce without the consequences that come with harsh chemicals.

Shea butter is a core ingredient and helps tame unruly curls and replenishes lost oil. However, what I like the most about this shampoo is hibiscus extract and neem oil, as they both improve elasticity and reduce hair breakage.

The Curl and Shine shampoo is an excellent restorative and anti-breakage shampoo. It’s great for fragile hair types and those with dry scalp. But if you have a balanced scalp, try something else instead. 

PROSCONS
Combines coconut oil and shea butter to lock in moisture Contains hibiscus extract, which increases elasticity, and neem oil which promotes hair repair Has no siliconesNot for oily scalp leaves a greasy feel if not rinsed off thoroughly

4. Wow Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo

This clarifying shampoo contains fewer chemicals than most as it relies on the detoxifying power of apple cider vinegar. Wow also includes keratin, proteins, and vitamins B5 and E to strengthen and soften your curls.

Is keratin shampoo good for permed hair? Not all are. But Wow certainly is.

Apart from these essential inclusions, Wow has also added palmetto extract to slow down hair loss. 

They’ve also added coconut and avocado oil into their conditioner. Together, this duo keeps curls feeling soft and moisturized while protecting them from further breakage and possible hair loss.

With natural ingredients, it makes for a completely hydrating shampoo with a hypoallergenic formula.

PROSCONS
Has fewer chemicals compared to most clarifying shampoos Good for reducing hair lossCan dry out hair when used too much or when not coupled with conditioner

5. Pantene Pro V Curl Perfection Moisturizing Shampoo

Pantene is a household name, but it’s no secret that this brand contains sulfates. While I wouldn’t normally suggest formulas that contain this surfactant, Pantene Pro V Curl Perfection does a pretty decent job at achieving a healthy moisture balance.

Best of all, this shampoo is affordable and very accessible. So, if you’re having a hard time finding the other items on this list, you can start experimenting with this one. It’s paired with a capable conditioner that’s sure to soften your curls too.

Just remember that Pantene is a bit heavy on chemicals, so expect the presence of dimethicone and the possibility of limp curls if you don’t wash these products off thoroughly.

PROSCONS
Best drugstore shampoo for permed hair Effectively moisturizes curlsContains sulfates and dimethicone

6. OUIDAD Ultra-nourishing Cleansing Oil Shampoo 

Clarifying shampoos are known for being harsh because of all the chemicals needed for a deep cleanse. Ouidad, however, succeeds in creating a nourishing and gentle formula. This cleansing oil shampoo mimics the properties of hair’s natural oils to replenish moisture without triggering a sensitive scalp.

Cocamid is mostly the reason for this shampoo’s high cleansing power. Still, its moisturizing capabilities are due to glycerin and various essential oils such as trichilia oil, watermelon seed oil, and radish seed oil.

Ouidad has dedicated itself to mastering curl-care and has made products exclusively for that purpose for years now. That said, it’s not surprising that they’ve come up with the perfect gentle clarifying shampoo for permed hair.

PROSCONS
Sulfate-free and gentle clarifying shampoo for permed hair Compatible with color-treated curlsWhile gentle, it might still dry naturally coarse hair.

7. OGX Refresh & Restore Coconut Miracle Oil Dry Shampoo 

This is a unique inclusion to our list because it’s a dry shampoo for permed hair. OGX’s Refresh Restore + Miracle Oil dry shampoo is above its competition because it blends the hydrating power of coconut oil, vanilla bean extract, and tiare essence.

Together, these ingredients help retain the bounce and freshness of your curls in between washes. OGX delivers on its name too. It’s an absolute miracle because it leaves no residue after, unlike other dry shampoo sprays.

However, I still wouldn’t advise leaving it on longer than a day. It’s meant to extend the life of your curls — not be a substitute for a full bath. Wash your hair after a day’s use because this dry shampoo may absorb your natural oils when left on for too long.

PROSCONS
Retains curls and gets rid of dirt in between washes Does not leave residue best dry shampoo for permed hairNot advisable as a substitute for thorough washes Can absorb essential oils when left on your hair for more than a day

8. Tree to Tub Argan Oil Shampoo

Those with sensitive scalp experience dryness, itchiness, dandruff, or acne at the slightest chemical imbalances. So, using formulations with a pH similar to your scalp’s could greatly reduce any of these side effects.

Tree to Tub adds argan oil into their formula and maintains the ideal pH level of 5.5 to reduce inflammation in sensitive scalp. It also contains antibacterial agents and omega-6 fatty acids, and vitamins A and E, making it a good dandruff shampoo for permed hair.

This relaxing lavender-scented shampoo also comes with a well-formulated conditioner. It is also free of harmful chemicals and revitalizes dry locks. While the shampoo isn’t recommended for dry scalp, the conditioner does a stellar job rehabilitating brittle strands.

PROSCONS
Contains argan oil and maintains the ideal 5.5 pH level for sensitive scalp Relaxing lavender scentNot for dry scalp and fine hair

How to wash permed hair

Healthy hair is not rocket science. The basics of permed hair care are simple.

First, wait for a solid two to three days after perming your hair before washing. If you can wait a week, that's even better.

  1. Once ready for a wash, wet your hair with cool or lukewarm water. Hot water is more likely to strip essential oils from your hair, making it dry.
  2. Depending on your hair’s length, pump out 5 to 10 mL of shampoo onto your hand and lather over your hair. Massage your scalp as you do.
  3. Rinse the lather with cool or lukewarm water.
  4. Use about one to two small dollops of your chosen conditioner. Apply it onto your hair without untangling or combing your curls with your fingers.
  5. Leave the conditioner on for the recommended time. Rinse well after.
  6. Air-dry your curls. If you use a towel, don’t rub your locks vigorously. Soft pats and scrunching are two safe ways to dry permed hair. These methods don’t mess with the structure of your curls and give them a refreshing bounce too. 

FAQs

1. What do you wash permed hair with?

We also use shampoo and conditioner — there are just more appropriate formulas for permed hair.

So what shampoo is good for permed hair?

Usually, they include humectants as permed hair may dry and frizz over time. But there are more things to consider other than hair condition when buying hair products. Read the entire list above for a more in-depth discussion.

2. Can you use regular shampoo and conditioner on permed hair?

Yes, you can, but use them cautiously as permed hair may require gentler formulations and more care. Perm safe shampoo and conditioner are still a safer bet. They’ll ensure shinier, softer, and healthier curls too! 

3. How often should you shampoo permed hair?

Wash permed hair once a week to keep it shiny and healthy.

But if you have an oily scalp, you need to wash your hair more often. If this is the case, shampoo your hair every two to three days.

Try to wash after exercising and breaking a major sweat too. I’d advise shampooing to rid your scalp of dirt and oils, but it’s not necessary.

You can use dry shampoo if it feels too soon since your last wash.

4. How else can I take care of my perm apart from using the right shampoo?

Avoid heat styling your hair as much as possible.

While blow dryer and iron finishes may look nice, they also tend to get greasier faster. Air-drying is still the best option for your curls.

Invest in the appropriate styling products too. Using the right shampoo and conditioner for your hair type is a step in the right direction!

Next, you can try experimenting with curling mousses, defining creams, and serums for your curls too.

Finally, alternate between wearing your hair up and down. Pulling back your hair often can cause your scalp to spread oil much faster. So, allow your scalp to rest and let your curls flow freely now and then.

Conclusion

When dealing with permed hair, just remember to look for formulas that prioritize locking in moisture and maintaining your scalp’s chemical balance. 

There are plenty of shampoos available in the market today, but they mostly differ in the ingredients they contain. The best perm shampoo and conditioner is one that works for your specific hair type.

Expensive ones don’t always mean better formulations. It’s still better to pay attention to your hair’s specific needs instead of listening to the advice of any endorser or believing everything we see on labels.

Last Updated: August 10, 2021

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