Can i wet my hair after perm

If you love curls as much as I do, you’ve probably considered perming your hair. After all, repeatedly using a hair curler can be damaging. And if you prefer curls as your everyday look, then getting a perm is the way to go.

But what exactly is a perm, and how does it work? 

Perm means permanent wave. It is a chemical procedure used in curling the tresses using rod rollers. Large rollers create larger curls, while small ones create tighter curls

Traditionally, the hair is wrapped with rollers, and perm solution is applied after. This method is known as the cold perm

There is also what you call the digital perm or the modern perm. This method involves wrapping hair around digitally heated rods and applying a perm solution after that. The heated rods activate the perm, thereby changing the hair follicle structure. 

Although perming seems like a great idea for those wanting an exciting new look, this chemical process makes the hair fragile and susceptible to damage. 

Hence, special care is required, especially during the first few days. Time plays a vital role in perming — the hair needs ample time to reshape the hair shaft.  

You may find yourself asking, what happens if I wet my hair after a perm? And how soon after a perm can I wet my hair?

Well, this article is here to answer that. 

Keep reading to know whether you can wet your hair after a perm and, if so, how soon after.


Washing hair after a perm myth

Washing hair after a perm myth

I’m sure you’ve overheard various tips regarding perm after-care. Not washing the hair is one. 

If you’re a fan of Elle Wood of Legally Blonde, you probably heard her say: “The first cardinal rule of perm maintenance is that you're forbidden to wet your hair for at least 24 hours after getting a perm.”

Others also recommend waiting for at least 72 hours before washing

Hmm... So which is which? 

Well, one thing’s for sure — not washing freshly permed hair isn’t a myth after all! 

Yep! You should never wash your hair immediately after a perm. 


Can I wet my hair with water after a perm?

Wetting your hair after a perm is fine but never do it immediately after. 

One way of taking extra care of your hair after getting a perm is not wetting it at least 48 hours later. I repeat, 48 hours, with or without shampoo and conditioner

This is essential since it allows the hair to completely adapt to your new wave pattern. It gives your tresses ample time to relink protein stands, thereby maintaining the curl.

Hence, never shower until at least it’s 48 hours after. Otherwise, your curls may not take full effect and may not last long enough.

Also, avoid getting caught in the rain. So always carry an umbrella! 

Now, what exactly happens if you wash your newly permed hair before 48 hours? 

Water removes the chemical effects which curl the tresses. As a result, the translucent solution washes away, canceling out the wrinkling process. 

And once water interferes with the curling process, it forms weak curls with uneven shapes. 

Aside from this, wetting your perm before 48 hours also increases frizz. 

Simply put, you’ll risk losing the definition of your lovely curls once you expose your perm to water. 


Does water deactivate perm?

Does water deactivate perm

Yes! 

Water deactivates perm and makes your curls fall apart. It breaks the physical side bonds, making the hair reliant on the reformed chemical bonds.

In other words, water makes your newly permed hair revert to its natural form.


I washed my hair 24 hours after a perm!

Oopsie daisy! Washing your tresses 24 hours after a perm is a big no-no. 

But as they always say, “what’s done is done!” 

The question now is, what happens if you washed your hair 24 hours after getting a perm? 

Well, there are three possible outcomes.

You may ultimately lose the shape of your perm. Or, if not, your mane becomes unruly and frizzy

And the worst-case scenario is that the two may happen altogether. 

However, perm reaction also depends on several factors, such as the shampoo used, your chosen curl type, and your hair type.  

Shampoo used

If you washed your newly permed hair with a gentle and sulfate-free shampoo, it’s unlikely for your curls to get ruined. 

But if you wash it with regular shampoo, the curls will likely stretch, thereby losing shape. 

Curl type 

Every curl type reacts differently to washing. 

Washing tight curl perms such as afro-style curls aren’t too much of a problem. It only stretches the curls lightly and won’t fully deform them. 

However, washing relaxed curls is a different story.

Washing too soon fully stretches out the curl, which means it’ll completely lose shape. 

Hair type 

Here comes the battle between fine and thick hair! 

Perm chemicals tend to settle on fine tresses unevenly. What happens now? Well, your permed curls lose shape and become frizzy. 

On the contrary, thicker and heavier tresses are unlikely to frizz. 

But it may still lose its curl shape since the thicker the hair, the longer it takes for the perm chemicals to settle in. 

So no matter what your hair type is, you shouldn’t wash your perms too soon. 


Can I wash my perm after 36 hours?

Can I wash my perm after 36 hours

Again, you shouldn’t wash your hair earlier than 48 hours after. 

Remember that the first 48 hours determine the outcome of your perms.

Although there is little difference between 36 and 48 hours, believe me when I say that time is crucial when it comes to perming. 

Perm chemicals need 2-3 days to work on your tresses and lock the shape of your curls. 

Similar to washing after 24 hours, washing your perm after 36 hours loosen the curls. Water degrades the keratin in the hair, making your curls appear straight. 

CHECK OUT: How to Perm Hair at Home by Yourself


How soon after a perm can I deep condition my hair?

Like any other chemical hair treatment, your tresses become more vulnerable to damage after perming. Remember that after getting a perm, your locks become drier than usual. 

Hence, you should use nourishing and hydrating products such as a deep conditioner to help rejuvenate your chemically-treated hair.  Deep conditioners nourish the hair and strengthen the strand, giving your curls a glossy and natural look. 

Hair experts recommend a deep conditioning treatment at least twice a week in the first few weeks after perming. Once the hair recovers, you can change it to once a week. 

But how soon after a perm can you condition your hair?

You can deep condition your tresses 48-72 hours after perming. 

Here’s what you should do: 

First, wash your hair with a gentle moisturizing shampoo and gently massage your hair in motion. Rinse thoroughly with warm water afterward. 

Next, apply a deep conditioner formulated explicitly for permed hair and leave it on your tresses for about 5 minutes. Then, gently stroke your hair with a wide-tooth comb to eliminate tangles. 

Once done, rinse your hair thoroughly with warm water and then towel dry right after. 


The takeaway 

So there you have it! Only wash your newly permed hair after 48 hours if you want your curls to stay luscious.

Also, like any other hair treatment, permed hair requires utmost pampering.  So don’t forget to moisturize your tresses with a nourishing regimen, such as a deep-conditioning treatment. 

By simply doing these, you’re one step closer to lush and perfect curls. 

So what are you waiting for? Go slay! 

CHECK OUT: Korean Perm

Last Updated: May 22, 2022

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