Perms that add loose waves

Updated April 17, 2017

Perms or permanent waves use chemicals to restructure hair bonds to make them curly or wavy. There are a variety techniques to perm hair, from wrapping hair around hot metal rods to wetting hair first in a chemical solution, then wrapping it into curlers for an extended period of time. Wave perms are a newer type of perm that creates loose curls or waves, which are curliest when the hair is wet, and lessen as hair becomes dry.

Digital Perms

Originally from Japan, digital perms have become popular hair styles for all different types of hair. Digital perms or Yuko perms use special rollers, which soften and recondition the hair, using thermal heat. The rollers are attached to wires that connect to a large digital machine, reminiscent of old perm machines from the 1960s. Hair is first shampooed and coated in a protective lotion and a hair relaxer, before it is wrapped in thermal rollers. The hair needs to be treated for at least 40 minutes for the hair bonds to be affected and for the hair to curl.

Setting Perms

A setting perm shares the same concept as a digital perm, except that instead of using the digital machine, the setting perm uses heat provided from a heating lamp. In Asia, setting perms dominated the market before digital perm technology was invented. Setting perms create waves that are slightly tighter and more defined than digital perm waves.

Hair Damage

Like most perms, wave perms may cause damage to the hair. The effects can vary from having fried or frizzy hair to under-curled hair. If you are considering a wave perm, you should have normal and healthy hair, that hasn't been permed in at least six months. You should also wait at least two weeks before colouring your hair to allow your perm to set.

Hair Care

After getting any kind of wave perm, you must not wash your hair for up to 48 hours, so the perming chemicals do not deactivate. After you wet your hair, you can either blow dry or blot dry your curls, but you should avoid brushing or combing to style. Apply curling balm or similar product to help maintain curl shape and texture. Depending on your hair type, wave perms can last anywhere form three months to a year.

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About the Author

Since 2008, Jen Kim has been a professional writer and blogger, working for national publications such as Psychology Today and Chicago Tribune affiliates. She holds a Master of Science in journalism from Northwestern University.