7 Things You Need to Know Before You Get a Digital Perm

Perm Picture

My digital perm results!

Earlier this summer, I came upon a short article about Kat Denning’s latest hair makeover and found myself drawn to her curls. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted curly hair and Kat’s new do only renewed my search for the perfect perm. It wasn’t long after that that I discovered the digital perm!

According to an article by Sali Hughes of the Guardian, digital perms originated from Japan and unlike the traditional cold perm that gives curls to wet hair, digital perms curl hair when it’s dry … in any size you want!

Thanks to a blog post (and referral) by Elizabeth Dehn, I was able to locate the ONE salon in the Twin Cities that offers digital perms – Shin Hair Salon in Minneapolis.

Now that I’ve gotten a digital perm, there is some important  information I wish I had known before I permed my hair.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my new perm but managing it is a lot more work that I ever expected. So if you’re thinking about getting a digital perm, here are 7 things you need to know before you call to schedule your appointment.

1. Digital perms are timely and expensive

The length and fullness of your hair will determine how long it will take to digitally perm your hair and how much it’s going to costs you to get one. In a nutshell, the longer and fuller your hair, the more time and money you’ll need to set aside for a digital perm.

Once you’re ready to schedule an appointment, know that you’ll need to set 2-4 hours aside to get your hair digitally permed. If you’re considering Shin Hair Salon for your digital perm, I advise that you schedule your appointment for 11 AM or noon. I scheduled my appointment for noon and didn’t finish until a little after 3 PM.

The starting price of a digital perm at Shin Hair Salon is $150. My hair at the time of my perm was medium length (a bit below my back) and considered thin by the stylist. Even so, my digital perm costs $200.

2. Make sure you’re ready to commit

Digital perms can last anywhere from a few months to a year and can’t be reversed without taking some major risks.

I was told that my digital perm would last about a year.

UPDATE: As you can see from the photos below, my hair was STILL curly a year after I permed my hair, even after I had 6 inches of it cut off earlier in the spring. About a month after the middle picture was taken, I had my stylist cut all the curls off.

Taken after my digital perm appointment on July 17, 2014

First day of digital perm. Taken June 17, 2014.

1 year after my perm, June 20, 2015.

1 year after my digital perm. Taken June 20, 2015

After

1 yr. and 1 mo. after the perm. Taken July 12, 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. There will be frizz 

Digital perms were originally designed for Asian hair (probably because most of us have super straight hair) and the curls are only activated when heat is applied to the rollers. As healthy and shiny as your hair may be right now, I want you to know that if you’re considering a digital perm, you will have to deal with frizz. Once your hair is soaked in perm solution, rolled into curlers and plugged in, the heat will fry your hair.

Since my hair was thin and medium length, the stylist at Shin’s Hair Salon only allowed my hair to be “hot” for about an hour. Even though she constantly checked the level of heat of the rollers and took precautions to make sure my scalp didn’t get burned, the damage to my hair was done. The first week after my perm, no matter how much I conditioned my hair, my head was a ball of frizz.

4. Pinning pictures of digital perms on Pinterest isn’t real research

Before you get a digital perm, do the right kind of research because if you don’t, you’re going to end up investing a lot more than you planned on your new do. While blogs and online articles about digital perms will give you basic knowledge, I recommend that you spend some time researching how to care for curly hair too.

It wasn’t until after my perm, after the frizz started, that I realized that I had to be careful about what shampoo, conditioner and styling products I used.  I can’t tell you how many hours I spent online researching products for curly hair after I got my perm and how much money I wasted on products that made my hair crunchy before I finally figured out how to manage my curly hair.

5. Be prepared to invest in hair care

Whether it’s a keratin treatment at the salon or a basket full of hair clips, be prepared to spend. While I initially purchased a few $5 products from Target to try on my new do, it was determined after the first use that these products weren’t for my curly hair. If I had done the proper research, I would have known this.

It’s been about a month since I got my perm and so far, I’ve gotten a haircut (to re-layer my hair to lessen the frizz), a keratin hair conditioning treatment (to soften my hair) and visited Sephora  a handful of times to purchase expensive (but much needed!) hair products.

To help control frizz, I recommend Bumble and Bumble Curl Conscious Calming Crème. This stuff won’t make your hair feel crunchy.

To review which ingredients in hair products are bad for curly hair, click here.

6. Getting ready in the morning will take just as long, if not longer than when you had straight hair

So I thought that getting a digital perm would make it possible for me to not only have curly hair every day but in less than the 15 minutes it normally took me to blow and style my straight hair. Well ladies, I am here to say that I was wrong! My curly hair now takes me twice as long to get ready for the day.

Once you get accustomed to the curly hair, you’ll need to give yourself extra time to gently blow dry and style … which brings me to the last thing you need to know about digital perms.

7. There will be lots of twirling

If you’re like me, you like to run your fingers through your hair or never really owned a hair brush. However, when your hair is curly, you’re going to need to refrain from running your fingers through your hair because that will cause frizz! Instead, you’re going to need to learn how to just twirl your hair. Yes, I said twirl.

To get the most curl for your buck, you’re going to need to twirl your hair in sections as you’re drying your curls with a diffuser blow dryer. Then, I recommend splitting your hair into two sections after blow drying and twirling them into Princess Leia like buns. Hit the buns with a little heat from the blow dryer and leave the buns in for a few minutes to get the most curl possible. Also,  twirling your hair throughout the day will help sustain curls.

Update: December 2016

I made my peace with curly hair and am just happy that my hair has returned to its soft and silky self. My stylist still reminds me when I go in for a haircut that I promised her I wouldn’t perm my hair ever again.

Is there a digital perm alternative?

If you want wavy curls but don’t want to risk damaging your hair, I’d suggest learning how to curl your hair with a straight iron. It took me a couple of attempts before I got the wave curls down but I’m happy with the results – even if they’re just temporary.

I have hair slightly below my shoulders and use a 1 3/4 flat iron (If I use a 1″ flat iron, my curls end up too tight) to create my waves. To add some texture, I spray my wet hair with Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe Texturizing Sea Salt Spray  (super cheap at Target). To add some body, I use Living Proof Flex Shaping Hairspray (love, love, love this hairspray). I spray both in my wet hair before I blow and curl my hair.

Flat Iron Curls 1

100 thoughts on “7 Things You Need to Know Before You Get a Digital Perm

  1. Thanks for the helpful hints! I was thinking of getting a digital perm and came across your post while doing some research. It’s been very helpful in that I now know what to expect before deciding to get it done! 🙂

    • Thanks! I hope the tips help you and prevent you from the same hiccups I encountered. I should have another post about my perm up in the next few days.Stay tuned!

  2. Great tips! My only question, are you able to style your hair by letting it air dry? That is my number one reason of wanting to get one. I would love to wash, put some product and twirl and head out the door. Is that a realistic expectation? Thank you!

    • I hate to say it but what you want isn’t a realistic expectation, at least not at first. It’s taken 8 months for my hair to finally be tame enough that I can just wash it at night, air dry it overnight and just put product in it before I leave the house in the morning.

      If you decide to perm your hair, it may take you a few months to condition and get rid of the dryness associated with applying heat to hair for a long period of time. If you really think about it, you’re rolling hair soaked in perm solution in a hot curling rod and leaving it be for at least an hour. If you want to avoid spending months heavily conditioning your hair (like I had to) make sure you ask for large curling rods and only allow your hair to be “heated” for a shorter amount of time … unless you have hard to curl hair.

      • Ah ok, thanks for your reply! My hair is fine, pin straight, never been colored or permed…. BUT when I curl my hair, the curls are gone in a few hours. Doesn’t help that I live in Houston with lots of humidity. Do you regret doing it? Im second guessing now. : /

      • Humidity is not your friend if you have permed hair … or naturally curly hair.

        I think the key to having a great head of permed hair is the stylist. They have to know what they’re doing. If you’re having second thoughts, see if you can go in for a consultation before you actually get your hair permed. Have the stylist take a look at your hair and make sure you have a look at the curling rods they’re planning on using. If the salon only has thin curling rods … run … run away!

        Do I regret getting my hair permed? No. It was an experience I wanted to have and I don’t regret trying something new. Would I do it again? Err … probably not. I promised my stylist last week when I saw her for a haircut that I would NEVER perm my hair again but I made the promise because I value my stylist more than I love curly hair. I had my stylist cut about six inches off and now my curls looks more like loose waves, which is what I wanted last July!

        Let me know if you get a perm! I’d like to know if Texas does their digital perms differently from Minnesota.

      • Very helpful thank you! Going for a consultation tomorrow. Apparently it’s the best place in the region, lol. I’ll prob have it done on Monday, I’ll keep you updated!

      • Hi Cindy,

        I did not! At the consultation, the owner said while she could do it, she didn’t want to. She said my hair was too soft and fine, it would not turn out how I had in mind. She advised against it and said when my hair was more damaged she would do it lol. I appreciated her honesty!

  3. Hi Cindy … I’m priya here … I need a solution from u … I have a sensitive scalp, thin and long hair and frizzy … So I planned to do perm … So my hairstylist did small twist turn perm … I did that one day ago … But my look like a mess now …

    • Oh no, Priya! You may have to wear your hair in a braid or a bun for a while …

      The first thing you need to go is condition your hair. The more frizzy your hair is, the drier it is. The easiest (and cheapest) way to condition your hair is with coconut oil. Follow Wiki’s directions (http://www.wikihow.com/Use-Coconut-Oil-on-Your-Hair-and-Skin) and I want you to be very mindful of how much you’re shampooing your hair. If your hair isn’t especially greasy, ease up on shampooing your hair so your scalp can heal. It’s been over 8 months since I got my perm but I still use gentle (and for sensitive skin) baby shampoo. Actually, I use Shea Moisture. Don’t use a dandruff shampoo. My daughter’s dandruff shampoo bottle says you have to rinse your hair for 5 minutes after shampooing if you have permed hair … which will dry out your scalp too.

      Other than conditioning your hair, there’s nothing much you can do for a while. You’ve got to let your hair settle. Try not to mess with it too much. I know I’m asking a lot when I say this but trust me, the less you mess with it (blow-drying, applying new products, etc.) the better. If your hair is too frizzy for your comfort, try applying hair conditioner to your curlers in place of a calming creme.

      Also, maybe consider getting your hair cut with layers. Layers help tone down the way frizz looks.

      I hope this helps you, Priya.

  4. Hi Cindy
    Please help, I’m considering the digital perm. I have always wanted nice wavy hair but to do it manually is so time consuming.
    I got the cold traditional perm done 10yrs ago and I had to wash my hair EVERY single morning before I could leave the house as it was SO curly it looked like I had a head full of snakes going in all directions!
    My question is, with the digital perm is it realistic to wake up, put some products in my hair and have nice loose curls without having to wash it every morning?

    • Hello Lil,

      A digital perm is realistic if you find:
      1) the right stylist
      2) use large curling rods to curl your hair
      3) don’t let the salon “hot perm” your hair for a long period of time
      4) locate conditioner and calming creme that won’t just build up in your hair and make it sticky so that you have no choice but to wash your hair every day

      I permed my hair last June and it’s just starting to look like the beachy waves I originally wanted. I wash my hair every night, let it air dry over night and spritz it with water in the mornings. It’s takes me minutes to prep my hair for the day now.

      My advice to you is to find some salons in your area that do digital perms and see if you can find some reviews on them. Then, call one or more for a consultation. If the stylist is willing to perm your hair, tell him/her exactly what it is that you want out of the curls and what your hair care goals are. If you’re hair is silky smooth, you may be told that a digital perm is not for you because hot perms can fry your hair.

      One last thing, hot perms rolls the same way cold perms do, they only way you’ll really get rid of the curls if end up not wanting them is by cutting your hair. Are you ready for at least a year long commitment?

      Let us know what you decide!

  5. I know traditional perms are often frowned upon for colored hair… I dye my hair a ton. But it curls and straightens super easy and I’ve got some natural, just not very consistent wave to my hair. Do you know if a digital perm is more of an option even with hair dye?

    • Hi Lucy,

      As you can see, I have dark brown hair with a hint of auburn. This isn’t my natural hair color. I have a few strands of white hair and have been dying my hair every 6-8 weeks for the last year. After I permed my hair last June, I waited a few months before I tried to dye my permed hair. I think I finally dyed my hair in October when I couldn’t stand my dark roots any longer. I use a a cheap dye brand from Target. Since the initial dye after my perm, I switch from a full dye job to a root touch up every 6-8 weeks and I haven’t run into any hair issues yet after dying. Have you seen my most recent photos? My hair is STILL curly.

      I don’t know how permed hair responds to strong chemicals like bleach though. If you lighten your hair, you may want to consult your stylist before you try to dye permed hair.

      Best of luck, Lucy!

      • Thanks Cindy.

        So when you actually got the perm you DID have dyed hair??

        Mine is mostly dark dye, but a couple spots which have some blonde when I did a kind of balyage look.

      • Yes, my hair was dyed when I got my perm but it had been a few months since my last dye job. If I had recently dyed hair. I would have waited a month or two before taking the plunge.

  6. I was planning to go to the salon for a digital perm this morning but after reading your blog, I changed my mind. I thought it’s faster and easier to manage in the morning than my straight hair. I think I’m going for a hair cut instead. Thanks!

    • Omg! Same! Hahaha! I have thick long hair that looks like I blow dry them everytime and it isn’t super straight so I visit the salon and have it rebonded just so it looks sleek and straight. But I’ve been wanting to perm it for ages since I thought it would be easier for me. Like I wake up with a fabulous curly hair and all I have to do is put some lipgloss and I’m ready to go. Good thing I read this one too!

  7. Hi! I need an advice. My hair is about 10 inches long from my shoulders down and I had cold perm thrice now. My last was like two years ago and the curl is still there a little. My hair used to be so straight, soft and shiny but now, it’s pretty much damaged. What solution should I apply to fix my hair? Not to mention the hair fall.

    I was planning on trying the digital perm. I was so certain not until I found this article which is very useful by the way and thanks. I was kinda having second thoughts now. Do you have idea how long should it take to hot perm my hair to have a perfect outcome? If the hot perm time is just right, would it not require a lot of costly hair products as well as hair blower? Can it be fixed with style in only about 5 minutes right on the same day I had my perm?

    • Hi Aiko,

      I highly doubt you’ll be able to style your hair within five minutes on the same day you get a hot perm. If you decide to get a perm, even if it’s done right, you have to give your hair time to regain some of the moisture its lost from the hot perm. Hot perms dry out your hair and cause it to become dry. You’re going to have to do some major moisturizing just to get your hair moisture back to where it was before the perm. I got my perm this time last year and my hair is still curlier than I would like it to be. My hair STILL hasn’t reached the perfect outcome yet. On humid days my hair gets frizzy and if I run my fingers through it, it gets even frizzier.

      My advice to you is to consult the stylist that will be perming your hair. If he/she thinks your hair can survive a hot perm, then go for it. Keep in mind though that you may have to invest in some major deep conditioning treatments later on. I got a keratin treatment a week after my perm and that help immensely but it cost almost $100 to do so. To keep up with the moisturizing treatments, I would have had to go in every 6 weeks or so … or invested in the $200 keratin treatment that would last 6 months.

      So, in the end, I’ve learned that when you perm your hair, it becomes a waiting game…waiting for your curls to loosen up and become those beach waves you really wanted … or waiting for your hair to grow out so you can cut off those curls. I’ve been waiting for my hair to grow out so that I can cut it just below my shoulders and have my silky smooth straight hair again. Unfortunately I’m going to probably to have to wait a few more months to do this because I have a chipmunk like face and short hair doesn’t flatter me at all.

      If you do decide to get a hot perm, no matter what condition your hair is in, plan on giving your head of hair a lot of TLC (tender loving care).

      Let us know what you decide, Aiko!

  8. Thanks for the information regarding digital perm. I’m getting one on Saturday in Toronto I’m a white female with longer than shoulder length hair straight and not overly thick. Just wondering you talked a lot about products but only gave a sephora and the keratin but I’m wondering for shampoo and conditioner which products did you find worked the best? When spending this much money on a perm I want to use products that will preserve for long lasting results.

    Sincerely
    Tammy

    • Hi Tammy,

      When it comes to shampoo and conditioning a digital perm, you’re going to want to use products that are gentle on your perm.

      I have been using Shea Moisture’s Fragrance Free Gluten Free Baby Shampoo because I didn’t like the smell of Shea Mositure’s Raw Shea Chamomile and Argan Oil Baby Shampoo. I have been using the baby shampoos since fall and have been happy with results from both products. As far as a conditioner goes, I use Dove’s Daily Moisture. I used Dove’s conditioner before I permed my hair and the product has always worked well for my fine hair and bonus, I can find an economy size of the stuff at Costco for around $10.

      When it comes to selecting a shampoo and conditioner, make sure they’re products you’re going to be able afford down the road. If you can only afford $10 – $20 a month for shampoo and conditioner, consider finding products at stores like Target. If you can afford the salon prices, go for it, especially if there is keratin in the product. At the end of the day, the shampoo you choose NEEDS to be gentle and not strip all the good oils from your hair. The conditioner you pick will need to be able to eliminate frizz without weighing your hair down and making it look oily.

      Now, if you decide to go through with the digital perm, you might want to just wash your hair every other day or so for a while rather than everyday for a while. You want to give your hair a chance to regain some of the moisture its lost. If you’re like me and like to wash your hair every day, you can still wet your hair and condition on the days you don’t use shampoo.

      Let us know if you get the perm this weekend and what products you end up using! I’m sure future readers of this blog will be curious to know what you’ve chosen to manage your new do.

    • Hello Tammy!
      I was wondering about you experience about your digital perm in Toronto?I am also looking for a place in Toronto for the same thing.Can you recommend a salon?Was the result one you wanted?I hope its not very expensive!Thanks for your respond!

    • Hi Tristen,

      To be honest with you, I’m not sure how a digital perm would turn out on blonde thick hair. I’m not so much concerned with the color of you hair but the thickness. For sure, it’s going to cost you much more to get your hair permed because your head of hair is going to need more perm solution and perhaps even more “hot” time. With that being said, my main worry is that the stylist might overcompensate and over perm your hair because of its thickness. I would seriously suggest you consult the stylist you want to use before you even schedule the digital perm about how long your hair will have to be subjected to hot curling rods.

  9. Hi Cindy!! I’m planning to perm my hair and I need some advice. Your post looked like you’ve had enough experience to help me here. 🙂 My hair is very short (no longer than my shoulder), super straight and is very thick. I curled my hair a few times with some iron and hairspray but it wouldn’t work and will last only for about three hours, tops. I want to try perming so that it could at least last for a few months and give my hair a little volume. (Short hair doesn’t really suit me). Do you think perming my hair will work?

    • Hi Donna,

      I want you to read Elizabeth’s blog entry about her digital perm experience at http://beautybets.com/2011/08/10/i-took-the-digital-perm-plunge/. I only suggest you read her post because she had thick shoulder length hair when she went for her perm. I think you’ll get a better idea of what your hair may look like after your perm based on her before and after pictures.

      I think the results of your perm will depend on the size of the curling rods and how long the stylist leaves the “hot” rods in your hair. I suspect that if you warn your stylist that your hair doesn’t curl or stay curled very long, they may want to leave the heat applied to the curling rods longer. If you want more of a wave, go for larger rods. I wouldn’t advise you to go for the smaller rods because I’m afraid you might end up a tangled mess. Also, I’m concerned the extra heat time will most likely damage your hair and may cause it to be extra frizzy.

      As far as how long your hair will stay curled … I really can’t tell how long you’ll hair will stay curled because everyone has different results. I had my perm for over a year and the curls hardly loosen up. If I wanted loose curls, I had to weight my curls down with conditioner. On the other hand, I’ve read other digital perm blogs where their curls eventually turned in to loose waves. My curls never turned into loose waves. Your waves may stay waves or loosen up in a few months. Again, it just depends on your stylist’s work. Pick a stylist that has a decent amount of experience with digital perms.

      If you’re not sure if you want a digital perm, don’t do it. That’s my advice to you. Digital perms require commitment and a lot of patience at first. If you’re not sure that you’ll like the end result or your stylists isn’t sure what your perm will turn out like, think it over. You can’t undo a digital perm, you can only grow your hair out and eventually cut it off.

      If you decide not to perm your hair, I suggest you look into sea salt hair sprays. If you’ve ever gone swimming in the ocean and lounged around afterwards, you’d notice how the salt water gives your hair volume and a bit of a tousled look.

  10. I went and got a haircut + digital perm today at a salon near my dormitory (at Seoul National University), and I came out extremely disappointed with the result. First off, they cut my hair to about your length, which is waaaay shorter than what I wanted (I wanted long hair below my chest), and made my hair too curly when I wanted loose waves. My sister who also got a digital perm ended up with much better result than me. I think it’s because she had a better stylist than me.

    • Michelle,

      A great digital perm boils down to the size of the curling rods, length of time hair is set in heat and yes, your stylist. I’m sorry your digital perm experience didn’t turn out as great as your sister’s did. The good news is that you can take some steps to properly style and loosen your curls a bit. I was able to loose up my waves in the first few months by twirling my hair (with conditioner in it) as I was drying it on a low hear setting. I don’t encourage you to blast your hair with high or really hot heat. You’re going to have to be gentle with your permed hair until it grows out some. The keratin treatment I got helped immensely, the deep conditioning treatment calmed my curls down and allowed for me to wear the curls down.

  11. Have you returned to Shin’s Salon?? Do you think the frizz was caused by the stylist? I am Caucasian and went here to get a permanent straightening and the results were devastating

    • Hi Mimi,

      I think the frizz was due to the length of time my hair spent rolled up in the hot curling rods (and the perm chemicals). I think I should have insisted my hair only be rolled up for 30 minutes rather than an hour.

      I know it’s hard to spend more money after you’ve just spent a bunch to straighten your hair but have you considered a keratin treatment to help tame the frizz? I got a keratin treatment about a week or so after I got my perm and it helped so much.

  12. THANK YOU! thank you for this blogpost! I was planning on getting a digital Perm while in Japan.. but first of all.. daaamn it takes a lot of effort 🙂 i really thought ” yeah just get a perm and never do anything again” well not really 🙂 and second I have toootal dry hairscalp with dandruff so I think putting on a perm isn’t really going to help with that! Thank you for all the tipps! I will stick with my straight hair 🙂

  13. Thank you for the tips. I was planning to have digi perm.
    I have a question, what comes first digi perking or dyeing your hair?
    I want to have mahogany ombré curly hair.

    • If I had to answer, I’d say perm your hair first and them dye it. I must warm you though that bleaching your hair after a digital perm will cause even more damage and breakage to your hair. Maybe if you wait 6 months after the perm and then dye your hair? If you wait, I don’t think the damage will be as bad but if you perm and dye your hair within days or weeks of each other, you will certainly damage for a long time to come. I dyed the roots of my hairs an dark auburn color (I have dark brown hair) about 6 weeks (I think) after I got my digital perm and dyed all of my permed hair 6-8 weeks after that. I consistently dyed it every 8-12 weeks after that (and still do now). There was no additional damage to my hair that I saw when I dyed my hair but I suspect this is because I wasn’t dyeing my hair a lighter color.

      My advice to you, besides taking your time, is to consult the person who will be perming your hair. They should be able to tell you whether your hair will be able to withstand that many chemical combinations and the prolonged heat.

  14. Hi Cindy!
    I got a digital perm 2 months ago. I really want my straight hair back! I have heard about keratin treatments to straighten curly hair. When you got a keratin treatment after your perm…Did the keratin treatment help your hair? Did it help lessen the curl? Any advice would be appreciated.

    Best regards,
    Cece

    • Hi Cece,

      A keratin treatment helped my hair, it toned the frizz down and my curls weren’t as tight as they originally were. I got a keratin treatment about a week after I got my perm. I can’t promise you that the keratin treatment will loosen the curls but it will make your hair softer … which will help … especially if you get a treatment that lasts a few months. I’m afraid you may have to wait until your hair grows out to get rid of those curls. I had to wait a year before I could cut all the curls off.

    • I too, regret getting a digi perm! The back of my hair gets tangled so easily and the curls are ugly. The only plus I see from this is if I curl my hair with a curling iron, the curls last a whole day and night. Can’t wait till my hair grows and I can trim all this off! Thought about keratin treatment but didn’t want to damage my hair more.

  15. I went for a digital perm yesterday. The result has been a disaster. I’m Caucasian, my hair is coloured and a bit dry at the ends but the hairdresser thought it would be healthy enough to take the solution. It wasn’t 😦
    As soon as the solution was put on they immediately had to wash it off. Then had to blow dry and straighten it before they could neutralise it. The hair was literally breaking off in her hands as she was straightening it. She cut at least 6 inches of to try and get rid of frazzled ends but it’s no good, it’s frazzled right to the root. They’ve offered me two more deep conditioning treatments free of charge but I honestly don’t think it will help. As soon as I got home I covered my hair in coconut oil but it’s just running right off, like my hair were made of plastic.
    My advice to anyone going for a perm is make sure you have a real good discussion with your hairdresser. Let them know exactly your type of hair, you’d colouring process (ie. If you bleach or not), how long since you last coloured etc. give as much info as possible. And if there’s even a bit of hesitation I would run for the hills, because not only might you not get the lovely curly locks you want, you might end up with no hair at all.

    • Yvonne, I am so sorry to hear about your recent perm experience! I hope your hair has calmed down enough for you to take advantage of those free deep conditioning treatments. I’m really glad you stopped by to tell the other readers about your perm experience. It’s very unfortunate that your hair reacted so badly to the perm solution. Please keep us updated on your hair condition.

    • Hi Yvonne, I saw my stylist earlier this week and I mentioned the condition of your hair. She that the reason why your hair felt like plastic was because there’s too much protein in it and suggested that you get your hair stripped it. How do you get too much protein in your hair? According to my stylist (who I love and totally trust), this can sometimes happen when you get too long or too many deep treatments (AKA keratin treatments) and use too many protein infused hair products.

  16. Hi Cindy,

    Thanks so much for your post. I have long, straight, thick hair and got a digital perm a few weeks ago because I wanted to get beachy/tousled waves. But I’m really disappointed because there isn’t much of a result – in fact, no one really noticed that I got anything done! I did my research and the salon I went to is one of the best and I went for a consultation before and everything, but maybe it just doesn’t work for some people? Anyway, I wondered if you would recommend using products like salt spray/mousse/primer etc. to help it take shape when it’s drying? Also, if I want more curls rather than less, is using a diffuser a bad idea (i hear it gives even more of a relaxed look)? And, is using a protein shampoo/conditioner better than one for curly hair specifically or really dry hair? Thanks so much!

    • Hi Sinjin, did you read Yvonne’s comment before yours in my blog comments? Her perm experience was the opposite of yours. If you’re using a diffuser now, keep at it. You don’t want to use a traditional blow dryer because it’s too much concentrated heat in one area. If you wants more curls, I could suggest doing what I initially did when I permed my hair – twirl sections as you’re drying them. I found it helped to twirl the strands throughout the day but beware, you may end up pulling some strands out if you get too twirly. I’m not too sure what product you should use to create curls, I was too busy trying to calm my curls when my hair was permed. I’d stick with something that doesn’t weigh down your hair though.

  17. My daughter has the thickest hair of anyone I know, caucasian, medium brown. She got her first digital perm in August 2014, with medium rollers, rolled horizontally. She liked the result, but this time she’s going to ask for large rollers (her hair is a lot longer now) and is hoping they can be rolled vertically. The stylist who did her perm is Korean, and he had washed, cut, permed, and damp-styled her hair within 1 hour 45 minutes. It was amazing! Her hair handled the perm just fine. It looked best for 5 months or so, and then relaxed some. I didn’t know anyone left the heat on for longer than an hour; about 40 minutes was all it took on her super strong thick hair.

    • Hi Angela, I’m so glad your daughter’s perm came out so well. I think the reason why it did was because who permed your hair and how long they let it set. Perhaps you could let the blog readers know where you got your daughter’s perm done? I know there are a limited number of salons that offer digital perms.

  18. What to do if after a month my curls seems losing the volume and having loose waves instead of curly bouncy hair. So frustrated with my messy curls don’t know what to do it. My first digi permed hair.

    • Oh Jessica, if only I had your problem. All I wanted when I had a perm was loose waves! My guess is that your stylist didn’t leave the perm solution or heat in your hair long enough since your curls are already loose … and that your hair is super thick? As far as curl advice goes, gentle care is the key to keeping your curls. I’m hoping your using a blow dryer with a diffuser on it. I like the heat on a medium/low setting and blowing on low. If your using high heat and full strength of the blow dryer, this may be why your curls are loose. Otherwise, if you’re using a gentle shampoo and only drying your hair on low settings, it may just be that your hair wasn’t made for long-term perms … which for the rest of us who got stuck growing out our hair isn’t a big deal. However, if you think you’d get another digi perm in the future, definitely mention your first experience to the stylist and ask them if they can correct the problem.

  19. So glad I read your article. THANK YOU for the advice. No digital perms for me! I have enought issues with dry hair and frizz as is! You’re a lifesaver….

    • Hi Gisele, I’m so glad you found this blog to be useful. I sometimes miss my curly hair, that is until I run my fingers through my straight curl and there’s no frizz. Take comfort in knowing that if you ever need to add curls to your hair, you can always use a curler. Happy New Year!

  20. Hello! I’m Asian with long and soft hair strands, I dyed it dark brown about 2 months ago and I’m planning to have it curled this Saturday. Now that I have achieved my desired length I have high hopes but looks like I need to do more thinking. My stylist is not recommending the digi perm for my hair. As what he mentioned, the chemicals may be too harsh for my hair strands and he suggests the traditional or cold wave curls. I’m not sure if i should give it a go or not…. But, thank you for your contribution, at least now I know the struggles that I may experience when I decide to do it.

    • Hi Rey,

      I’m glad your stylist was honest with you. Whether you consider to get the traditional perm or not, let us know. Happy to help you along with your digital perm decision.

      • I had my hair permed yesterday (my stylist did the traditional one) and I’m not happy with the result. He did show me a picture of how the curls are going to be smaller than the ones we ussually get when he sets my hair. Last night it looks fine, he advised me not to rinse it and never comb it. But when i woke up this morning, it just looks wavy and frizzy. Though he told me to wash my hair tomorrow i’m now thinking to wash it today just to see if it still has curls. Should I wash now or listen to him and waiting till tomorrow?

      • Rey,

        Listen to your stylist! If you wash your hair early, you may lose some of the curl … unless that’s what you want. I haven’t had a cold perm since the 6th grade so I can’t tell you what to do. When in doubt, listen to the experts. Keep away from water, Rey! (If you end up washing your hair, please let us know what happens!)

  21. Hi,
    I’m considering getting digital perm. I have fine light hair and I also have microbead extensions for extra thickness. i was hoping that this would give me more volume and I wouldn’t have to curl my hair anymore. I’m just not sure what it would do to my extensions? Any suggestions?
    Thanks in advance

    • Holly, I don’t know much about hair extensions because I’ve never had any myself. My advice to you is to find out what kind of hair extensions you’ve got in right now. Figure out what your extensions are made of and what you can and can’t do to them. Definitely consult the stylist who you want to perm your hair. If you’re not happy with what the tell you, find another stylist and get a second opinion. Don’t perm your hair or hair extensions until you have a pretty good idea what the results will be.

    • Michelle,

      I’m so sorry to hear your digital perm has damaged your hair. Did you get a consultation before you got the perm? Do you think the stylist could have done anything differently to prevent the damage?

    • Hi Ashley,

      My natural hair color is a dark brown. I’ve been dying my hair a dark auburn for a few years now every 6-8 weeks. Although, after I got my perm, I waited a few months before I started dying my hair again.

      I wouldn’t recommend dying your hair right before you perm your hair because of all the chemicals involved. I’d dye my hair a few weeks I get my digital perm. Since I don’t know what condition your hair is in, I’d definitely consult your digital perm stylist before perming your hair.

      • Hi! I’ve been reading all the posts and wanted to Let everyone know that I had a big problem with frizzy, dry, damaged hair after a perm many many years ago and my grandmother bought me a liter bottle of scruples protein treatment. It’s pricy but worth it. You treat your hair once or twice a week and it works miracles! After the very first treatment it’s much more soft and supple. It reduces frizz immensely. So, anyone who needs help with dry, damaged hair I recommend getting a trim (trimming layers too) and doing protein treatments by scruples. Hope this helps!

  22. I got a perm on Oct. 10th – I waited two days to wash my hair so the perm would hold then washed it again after 2 more days and 75% of the perm is gone.

    Of course, I was upset! My stylist recommended the Shielo Intensive Hair Mask – its a deep conditioning treatment because my hair was dry. My hair looks 100 times better! It made the perm come back a little more, it’s not perfect but it looks a whole lot better and I feel a lot better too. I will always have this Shielo product around next time i get a perm – its a saver!

  23. Thanks so much for your advices. I naturally have dry hair. Considering having digital perm for body wave to up lift my now flat hair due to aging. I have to think twice now, especially because of my dry hair. thanks very much for the info.

  24. Hi!

    My name is Nicole and I have flat thin hair that gets greasy when I don’t wash it everyday. I’m considering getting a perm but I’m not certain as to whether to get a digital or cold perm. I also want to dye my hair but I’m not sure what to do first because I don’t want to have a bad experience. Could you please provide me with information/guidance as to what I can do? Thank you!

  25. Pingback: Digital Perm: The Answer to Waves for Days - MichellePhan.com – MichellePhan.com

  26. Pingback: Digital Perm: The Answer to Waves for Days – StyleKist

  27. hi there, in some points you mention probably true but i can only say that i’ve had digital perm every year for the last five yrs now and since i was young and had a long straight hair that i find it boring and hard to style sometimes thats why i switch to curls and i find it more easy to manage and style when i need to go for a functions or night out..i can say the way i do it and care my digital perm that last really more than a yr. is that i used lots of conditioner after a shampoo and i dont need to spend branded products, after drying with a towel i simple run my fingers to brush my hair and let it dry naturally or if im going for a party in the night i make sure wet or dry i simply roll my hair up n clip my hair so then in the nite as soon as u removed the clip its comes down into a nice like a natural curl and i just style it with some hair spray or hair leave on conditioner but never i comb my hair..i never really had that frizz in my hair as u mention as my hair is also thin..i got lots of good compliment about my hair to be honest thats why until now i still do digital perm each yr.i wish i can show some pics of my hair ever since i had..tnx

  28. I couldn’t help but laugh a little while reading this. I have naturally curly hair. The struggle is real. Everyone thinks I wake up like this and that curly hair takes no effort. I will say that I use don’t brush my hair after a shower. I don’t towel dry either. I pat my hair to remove the excess water. Immediately after while hair is wet I spray on Bumble and Bumble Hairdressers Invisible Oil Spray. I let it air dry while I apply make-up/drink coffee. Before I leave for work I flip my hair over and scrunch while hairsryer is on low air flow setting and medium heat. Don’t wave the hair dryer back and forth as you would normally do, this will break up the curls. I hold the dryer still and aim at spots while scrunching. Oil can be added to the ends after it is dry. I hope the helps the straight hair converts. One extra tip. Wash your hair with conditioner. Shampoo only every third day.

  29. Thank you for your tips. I am going through the frizz of a digital perm and realize I need to trim and get treatment too. I really like the 3rd picture too which is the look I wanted in the first place as well.

  30. I wonder if it is how the salon does it too? I had my hair digital permed twice at this cheap salon when I was back in China. My hair was slightly drier, but i never had much fizziness issue at all. I did ask for extra ‘soft’ curves and I don’t remember them heating it for more than half hour. It last slightly more than 6 months I would say, but that was without doing any maintenance. The only thing i do is putting extra conditioning, ran my finger through to untangle during shower, and then I let it air dry without brushing.

    I had my hair just normal chemical permed a few months back and it is SO MUCH worse. Hair is constantly a fizzy mess. Going to have the last little bit cut off next week and going for a digital perm again.

    • Hi Weiwei,

      I’m sorry to hear that your last digital perm didn’t turn out as well as your previous ones. I hope your next perm turns out better.

      I definitely believe the quality of a digital perm depends on how well the salon (and stylist) handles the perming process – this is why I encourage people to go in for a consultation before the perm appointment so that they have a better idea of what’s going to be going down and to learn whether their hair is going to be able to withstand a hot perm.

  31. Pingback: How To Blow Dry Hair After Digital Perm | Information

  32. Hi Cindy,

    I have seen you giving advice about the digital perm perhaps creating hair that is a bit unruly. However, I can’t help but notice that your perm doesn’t look frizzy or unmanagable, and the end product that you were happy with looks to me like a volumising blowdry. I think the first picture looks excellent so if I was to get something similar to what you started with what would you reccomend? My hair is pretty similar to the newest picture, but much less polished.

    • Hi Bess,

      That first picture was taken after I came home from the salon and washed my hair (even though the stylist told me to wait a few days). I washed my hair because I was hoping that some of the curls would loosen up. An hour after the picture was taken, my hair frizzed up and felt like synthetic hair. I spent the next few days trying to weigh down the frizz with conditioner. It took me a week or two to calm the hair down enough to wear it down. The keratin treatment really helped.

  33. Thank you for this article. It was really informative and helpful. I was considering getting a perm because I thought it would cut back on the time I spend styling but after reading your article I now know I was wrong. I’ll stick to my boring stick straight hair that hardly ever needs brushing because I just run my fingers through it! Thanks again 🙂

  34. This is such helpful advice! I’ve been thinking of getting a digital perm last few months but keep chickening out. Don’t think its for me after reading all about the excess frizz and maintenance. Yikes!

  35. Reading this made me sad! I had a totally different experience with my digital perm. When I went for hair cuts (not the same salon as the perm), stylists would call friends over to see how healthy and soft my hair was. I loved my permed hair. I went to a salon in Atlanta that frequently does digital perms. I hope your experience doesn’t scare you from getting the perms. Maybe the people were not as experienced?

    • Hi Linh,

      You’re right, a digital perm experience is based largely on the stylist’s perming skills. I’m glad to hear that your stylist (maybe you can share his/her name) does a good perm, just in case we’re ever in Atlanta?

    • Could you tell me which salon you went to for the digital perm? I live in Atlanta and have been considering donating my thick, extremely long, deathly straight silky hair and getting a perm to change things up. Cindy’s experience is making me reconsider just learning how to use a curling iron at home instead. I just want curls that stay longer than a few hours!

  36. Thank you for this I was considering having a perm, did not know what a digital perm was googled it and came across your blog. The information has been most helpful, think I will stay with my silky straight hair.

  37. This information is so useful. I hate to see frizz…. on my hair and I hate to blow dry every morning..I like to run my fingers through my hair. Haha…let’s forget about the perm. Am cancelling my appt. I have got no time for that.

  38. Bummer. Wish I saw your blog sooner. Despite all the digital perm research I did, I got one done 4 days ago. I have thin Hmong hair a little below shoulder length. I had a cold perm done a little over a year ago prior to doing the digital perm. The cold perm was not what I had hoped but after a few months it was workable. I decided that since I was horrible at curling I would digital perm my hair this time. I’m hoping for those loose voluminous wave. My head is now full of frizz. OH MY GOSH!! I thought digital perm gives less frizz than cold perm but was I wrong. I don’t recall having this much frizz with the cold perm. When I saw smoke coming out of my hair while waiting for the digital perm, I regretted already. I’m so sad. I went and purchased the beachwave S1.25 curling iron last night and curled my hair. I should have just got that first. I’m so sad. I don’t even plan to do anything else with my hair now, I don’t even know what else to do. I’m just going to air dry and put it in a bun for the next year. If I’m not going to style my hair, do I need to put any curling cream or etc. in it?

    • Hi Julie,

      I’m sorry to hear your digital perm didn’t work out. The best thing you can do right now is give your hair some time to regain the moisture it has lost. I’d look into getting a keratin treatment (these can be pricey) or treating your regular hair conditioner as leave in conditioner (see my follow-up blog post:My Digital Perm: 4 Months Later). Regular hair conditioner is heavier than the leave-in kind and will help keep your hair moisturized and weighed down, which is what you want until the curls loosen up a bit.

      • Thanks Cindy. They don’t even look like curls anymore. My hair just looks like a fly away mess. I did a coconut hair mask today but I don’t think it made any difference. Lesson learned.

  39. hello,thank you very much for this information..well,im not happy with my digital perm..all u said was true..can i still curl iron my hair?.

  40. Thanks cindy for sharing of what youve learned. Woohhh im planning to perm my hair because summer is coming… well i decided to invest in good curly iron and hair spray.

    Thanks again!

  41. You should find a deva Curl salon and specialist to tach you easier ways to style and which are the correct products to use. It just takes a little love from someone who truly specializes in curly hair.

  42. Thank you for the review! I was going to perm my hair but I pretty answers all my concerns. I guess I’ll have to learn how to curl my hair with an iron. Thanx!

  43. Thank you so much for taking the time to explain what a digital perm is and what it really entails. I have been searching for a new birthday “Doo” and if it isn’t bad enough that my birth certificate says I will be 55 but my mind still thinks I am 29 so I have to be very careful of my look du jour! My husband likes my hair longer rather than on the shorter side but I noticed particularly this past year that my hair has grossly thinned. I really thought the digital perm was my answer until I read your comments. My hair is already so heavily damaged it would probably fall out completely during the process! As it is now it only takes me 10 minutes to give myself some nice barrel roll curls that I easily pick out into a nice mature look. So I thank you…But I think I will just continue to do what I have been doing as bald is not a look I desire if it is not necessary. I appreciate your time!

  44. Thanks for the advise, great insight into what was my next plan, you have saved mea lot of disappointments and money, 💐

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