Are Perms Bad For Your Hair?

Perms are back in style and they're certainly not what they used to be. Instead of giving you a mess of frizzy curls, as was popular in the 1980s, modern perms tend to provide you with waves and curls that are much more sleek and relaxed — but, can they still cause damage to your hair? While new perm formulas are generally less damaging than older ones, they can still potentially harm your hair by changing the chemical composition of your hair cuticle (via Well+Good).

"Perms get a bad rap because, ultimately, it is a chemical process that permanently changes the hair, which can affect the hair if done incorrectly or if the hair was already chemically processed," Priscilla Flete, a New York City-based hairstylist, told Well+Good. "The real damage happens when you apply your next perm after perm after perm, which causes breakage." According to Flete, perming and coloring your hair at the same time can also cause damage.

How to care for your perm

Proper aftercare is key to maintaining your new perm. That's why it's important to avoid doing certain things right after getting it done (via InStyle). For instance, if you don't want to ruin your new hairdo, you should avoid washing your hair for at least three days. "I only recommend washing sooner if you want to break up the curls to achieve a softer, semi-permanent beachy-waves look," celebrity hairstylist Sascha Breuer told InStyle.

It's also important not to style your perm with anything other than your fingers. That's because brushes and accessories can cause breakage or give your hair an undesirable shape. If you can't comb your hair with just your fingers, you can use a wide-toothed comb after conditioning your perm in the shower. In addition, you can protect your perm at night while you're asleep by wearing your hair in a scarf or bonnet. This will help prevent your curls or waves from getting flattened.