Skip to Content

Can I Put My Hair up After a Perm? How Long Should I Wait?

Elegant white girl with subtle freckles and chemically treated hair gently styled after a curly perm.

After getting a perm, you may have been hit with a long list of dos and don’ts. Your stylist may have warned you not to shampoo, condition, or heat style your hair. But can you put your hair up after a perm?

That’s the question of the day. In this article, we will explain whether putting your hair up after a perm is safe so you can preserve and protect your new curls.

Can I Put My Hair up After a Perm?

If you want a successful perm, you should avoid putting your hair up, especially on the day your hair is permed. The first day of your perm is most crucial for the longevity of your curls.

And anything you do to manipulate your hair during this time will affect your short-term and long-term results. This section will explain the consequences of putting your hair up the same day you got it permed.

Cute Caucasian female with naturally curly hair and reddish-brown freckles.

Interference With Residual Effects of the Perm

To understand how putting your hair up interferes with the residual effects of the perm, you need to know how the treatment affects your hair.

A perm is made of a complex blend of potent chemicals that alter the hair’s texture from the inside out. When these chemicals are applied to the hair, they penetrate your strands, breaking down the protective layers and proteins that give the hair its shape and structure.

Once the original structure of the hair is broken down, your strands are free to take the form of the rollers used during the perming process.

The curl formation process begins while hair is attached to the curling tools and continues even after the perm is washed out. For this reason, the hair needs to be left alone for the new structure of hair strands to develop.

So, when you manipulate your hair by using a scrunchie, you disturb the curl formation process. The result is uneven curls. 

Possible Hair Breakage

Beautiful female with fragile permed hair gently styled with a wide-tooth comb to keep her curls soft.

Elastics and hair ties are notorious for causing breakage on virgin hair. And the risk of damage is much more significant for permed hair due to its delicate state.

When hair is freshly permed, its protein levels are low, making strands weak and susceptible to damage. Moreover, using elastics on the hair will weaken it further, possibly causing strands to break off.

Frizz Overload

You may think that putting your hair up after a perm will prevent frizz, but it will likely do the exact opposite. The intensity of your frizz is determined by the condition of your strands’ outermost layer, called the cuticle.

Right after a perm, the cuticle is more raised than usual due to damage from the chemicals. The more raised the cuticle layer, the frizzier hair appears.

Furthermore, using elastics and hair ties further raises the cuticle layers making strands go haywire, unleashing even more frizz.

How Long Do I Have To Wait To Put My Hair up After a Perm

A white lady with fragile hair following chemical services wearing defined curls and red lipsticks.

To get the best results from your perm, you should wait 2 to 3 days before putting your hair up. This waiting period will allow the perm to fully set so that you can manipulate your hair freely.

After the 2 to 3 days are up, you are free to wash and condition your hair, as usual, but you should wait until after you’ve washed your hair for the first time before you put it up.

The vitamins and nutrients your hair gets from shampooing and conditioning are essential for rebuilding the structure of your newly permed strands.

Furthermore, after your hair’s nourishment has been restored, it should be strong enough to withstand being put into an updo.

How to Style Permed Hair and Styles That Are Off Limits

Stunning girl with freshly treated curls on reddish-brown hair color and a 2C hair type.

If you’re less than three days post perm, you’re probably anxious to try some new styles that you couldn’t achieve with your naturally textured hair.

But before you pick up a comb, brush, or any styling products, make sure that your desired style won’t damage your hair. In this section, we will discuss some of the styles that are off-limits after you’ve just gotten your perm.


Braids are embraced as a go-to protective style for many people with curly textured hair. However, they may not be the best option if you have a fresh perm.

Braids, especially if they are tight and restricting, could destroy the curl pattern that you worked so hard to achieve. Additionally, in the end, you could end up with unwanted curl patterns and breakage.


Although twists seem like a hairstyle that’s naturally compatible with a new perm, they could ruin your curls.

Twists force the hair into a new structure and pattern contrary to your perm’s curl formation. And because your perm is not fully set before the first 3 days, twists will disrupt the process, possibly causing your curls to fall.

Finger Coils

Finger coiling is probably one of the most damaging methods you can use to style your hair post-perm. This method involves tightly twisting hair strands around your fingers until coils form, resulting in barrel-like, spiraled curls.

Finger coiling is problematic for permed hair because it puts too much stress on your scalp and individual hair strands because of how much twisting and pulling is involved.

In addition, this method could easily lead to breakage and an inconsistent curl pattern after a new perm.

Roller Sets

Rollers (like these perm rods) are used during the perming process to create the new texture, so it seems logical to use them afterward to reinforce the new curl pattern.

However, once a perm is complete, there is no way for you to further encourage curl formation within the first 3 days. Furthermore, roller sets require wrapping the hair tightly, which is highly damaging to freshly permed hair.

How To Treat Permed Hair and Styling Techniques To Avoid

A woman wearing her hair loose after a perm solution styled with natural oils.

There are specific hair tools you’ll want to pass on during the first few weeks post-perm. We’re going to outline them in the below section: 

  • Heat Styling Tools – Because heat (e.g., hair dryer) is severely damaging to newly permed hair, you should avoid it during the first 2 weeks after your perm. Blow dryers, flat irons, curling wands, and hooded dryers are all potential sources of heat damage.
  • Clips & Pins – Hair tools similar to clips and pins should only be used 2 to 3 days after a perm or later. 
  • Combs & Brushes – No combs or brushes of any type should be used in the first 3 days after your perm. You should only use your hands and fingers to gently separate and detangle your curls during this time.
  • Water – You should avoid water (i.e., don’t get your hair wet) until your hair has been permed for 2 to 3 days. In fact, you should avoid all water and moisture until at least the 2-day mark.

Top 3 Tips to Care for Your Permed Hair

A lady with light brown permed hair gently styled with a wide-toothed comb wearing pink nail polish.

Because your curls are chemically formed, they have to be cared for differently than natural curls. Use these tips to keep your hair healthy and voluminous:

1. Dry Your Hair Correctly

The method you use to dry your hair will make or break your curls. If done incorrectly, drying your permed hair too roughly can cause breakage, split ends, and frizz. To prevent this, you should always dry your hair with a microfiber towel and never wring your curls out.

2. Moisturize Often

Curls require more moisture than straight hair because it is more difficult for moisture to coat and travel down strands from roots to ends. You can inject more hydration into your hair daily by using leave-in serums, moisturizing mists, and deep conditioners.

3. Trim Your Hair as Needed

You’ll need to trim your hair as needed to get rid of sections that have been damaged by the perming process. Cutting ¼ inch every 2 to 3 months (as needed) should help you retain healthy length.

Related Articles

It can be challenging to let your hair rest those first few days after your perm, but you’ll be glad you did when your permanent, luscious curls are finally set.

So, in the meantime, be sure to avoid the styles and tools outlined in this article to ensure you get the best result from your perm. We hope this article was helpful in teaching you how to care for your perm.