Perm First or Colour First? 7 Other FAQ for a Gorgeous First Perm!

Published on Apr 08, 2021

Crazy hair colours were all the rage a few years ago but the spotlight has now been turned to perms. With K-dramas sporting gorgeous curls from the land of perms, it is unsurprising to see more and more ladies in Singapore sporting the effortlessly sexy style. 

Even for some of us who've already gone for our first perm, however, some questions remain.

Should we colour first or perm first? What should we confirm with the stylist to make sure that the final hairstyle looks good? 

We talk to perm specialists at The Beauty Emporium by The Urban Aesthetics @ Raffles City to get these burning queries answered. 

1. Should I colour first or perm first?


According to Leslie from The Beauty Emporium by The Urban Aesthetics, the answer to this depends on the eventual hair design you're thinking about.

If you colour your hair first, the hair colour will fade a little when perm lotion is applied.If you perm your hair first, your curls will loosen after you colour your hair. ~ Leslie Yap

There is no one right answer but for veteran stylists like Leslie, many prefer to colour the hair, then do the perm. Knowing that the colour will fade, Hidero will choose a darker, more pigmented colour so that the hairstyle will look slightly brighter after the perm. 

Although the colour can be adjusted beforehand, it is more difficult to do so with curls as there is no way of knowing how much looser the curls will look. 

Another reason why stylists choose to colour your hair first rather than perm is because the process of colouring will already cause some bonds to break. This reduces time during the perm as the perm lotion will take lesser time to process the hair and hence, result in lower levels of damage overall. 

2. What is the final length... after the perm?


Notice how we said final length? This is important because some hairstylists cut your hair before the perm, so if you point to your shoulders and they cut it when your hair is straight, you might end up with a wavy/curly bob that is shorter than what you expect after the perm.

Don't wait till the end of the service to tell us the hair length is too short. Even before the service starts, tell your stylist what hair length you wish the perm to be; you can even add an inch to your optimal because we find that customers often like having hair that is longer than what they think. ~ Annie, The Beauty Emporium by The Urban Aesthetics

3. What would it look like after the perm?


Before you begin, it's vital that you tell your hairstylist exactly what you are worried about and what you seriously hate in a perm. Even if they aren't able to give you the perm of your dreams, this will hopefully prevent it from becoming a nightmare perm. 

If you find it hard to describe what you like or dislike, bring along a photo. Soft waves to someone may not too curly for another. Once we see a photo, it is easier for us to anchor the discussion and avoid all the drama. ~ Leslie, The Beauty Emporium by The Urban Aesthetics
Emily in Paris Soft Perm at The Beauty Emporium

Emily in Paris inspired perm by The Beauty Emporium by The Urban Aesthetics

4. How do I make sure I don't look too old/aunty after the perm? 


Curls can make you look sexy but having too much of those can certainly make one look more mature than they are. 

To look more youthful, consider going for a perm that starts lower and with fewer layers. ~Annie, The Beauty Emporium by The Urban Aesthetics
Natural Curl Perm by The Beauty Emporium

As your first perm, you may also want to opt for looser curls the first time around because you may not be familiar with how to maintain curls that are too curly. If you have naturally curly or wavy hair, your stylist may even do a slight straightening closer to the roots to make the hair design look sleeker and more trendy. 

5. What perm lotion do you use?


Aside from stylist skill, the perm lotion has a huge impact on how soft and bouncy your curls look afterwards. You can read our article on Advante Perm vs Tokio de Sinka Perm vs Shiseido Perm vs MUCOTA Perm to understand the difference but the whole point is that lower-damage perms can minimize damage and hence frizz, making your perms more manageable. It will also protect your hair from excessive damage so your next perm will still look good. 

It is absolutely necessary for ladies with bleached hair to go for low-damage perms like Advante.But even those with healthy hair will find that low-damage perms look more bouncy and is more easily manageable afterwards. ~ Hidero, The Beauty Emporium by The Urban Aesthetics

Advante Perm by The Beauty Emporium by The Urban Aesthetics

6. How do I maintain the curls? 


What you do to your hair is just as important, if not more important, than what the hairstylist does in the salon. 

Some who've permed their hair may find that the hair looks amazing when you walk out of the salon but looks absolutely messy and frizzy one week later. While a bad perm could be the culprit, most of the time, it is the lack of homecare that causes the frizz. 

It is therefore essential that you ask the stylist for the proper way to care for your permed hair. 

Perms are actually very easy to manage once you get the routine down pat. This includes using the right shampoo, treatment/hair mask/conditioner, applying curl cream and blowdrying the hair.~ Hidero, The Beauty Emporium by The Urban Aesthetics
Blow Dry at The Beauty Emporium

It may take some practice but get some tips from your stylist with regards to blowdrying the hair with your fingers and you'll be ready to go in 5-10 minutes. 

7. What accessories can I match with my perm?


For those of you who love accessories, you can even check with your stylist on the type of accessories that matches your new perm style. With a new shape and texture, a whole new world opens up for you. 

Accessories for Wavy Hair

8. What's the final price? 


We're not asking you to check the price list because we think salons will rip you off or hard sell you (strictly a no-no with Beauty Undercover trusted salons). We think it is just wise to avoid any miscommunication because different salons charge differently. 

For some, perms include haircuts and even an express treatment, while others might offer an à la carte perm and a separate à la carte hair wash! To tackle this tricky situation, you should survey your shortlisted salons, and after making a decision, ask your hairstylist what the  appointment includes to avoid miscommunication.

It's best to be extra clear to avoid disappointment, even if it means taking an extra 15 minutes to ask all your questions.

Want to know how a good first perm should look like? Read on for Agent PQ's experience at The Beauty Emporium by The Urban Aesthetics at Raffles City!

First Perm at the Urban Aesthetics


Hello, I'm Agent PQ, a service crew member. Though I'm in my early thirties, many people think that I'm much older :(

My Hair Before Getting First Perm at The Beauty Emporium

I think it has something to do with my hair... it is too long, too straight and just looks so flat. 

After binge-watching so many Korean dramas during the Circuit Breaker, I've been thinking about getting a Korean-style perm like what I see on The Startup. But where should I go to get it done? I usually go to salons in JB but I haven't been able to go back this year. 

I was chatting about it with one of my colleagues, who recommended me to Annie from The Beauty Emporium by The Urban Aesthetics @ Raffles City.

The place is large, spacious and just look so luxurious. It got me thinking...

How can I afford it?

Knowing that I work close by, they very kindly offered me a discount on my haircut and I ended up loving it! Annie and I talked about everything under the sun, including exercising and running, korean dramas and of course, dream hairstyles. I told her about my wish to look a little younger and Annie suggested a fun mid-length perm. As The Urban Aesthetics recently launched a low-damage Advante perm, she wondered if I was keen to try. 

I had never permed my hair before so I had lots of questions. 

Should I colour my hair first or perm my hair?Is it very hard to maintain?How much is it?

Annie answered my questions one at a time. For best results, she patiently shared that I should colour my hair first to make the perm last longer; the hair will also be less damaged because perm lotion will not need to break as many bonds during the processing. As for maintenance, all I need to do is to get good homecare and a curl lotion to make it look good. Prices may change over time but they were having a special launch promotion then so it will help defray some of the cost. 

My Hair Before Getting First Perm at The Beauty Emporium

So according to her advice, I came back to do a hair colour and arranged for the perm appointment a week later. 

Step 1: Consultation


Finally, the day for my perm arrived! 

During the consultation, Annie double-confirmed my preferences for the following:

1) Final Hair Length

She shared that my hair will look shorter than it is now because the curls will bounce up and hence look shorter.

2) Curl Type

As it is my first perm, she recommended a loose wave that will look more natural and is easier to manage. Something like what Song Ji Hyo from Running Man is sporting here but looser and shorter, given my current hair length. 

Song Ji Hyo Perm

3) Perm Lotion

As mentioned previously, she would be using the Advante Perm lotion. This is a highly raved perm lotion as it helps to add movement and soft curls without even opening my hair cuticles ... this means I'll be able to get curls without all the frizz!

Once I was clear with everything going on, Annie helped me put on the robe before we went for the first step: hair wash.

Robe at The Beauty Emporium

Step 2: Advante Shampoo and Pre-Treatment


To get my hair ready, Annie started the perm with an Advante perm and treatment.

Advante Shampoo at The Beauty Emporium

Annie used generous pumps of the Advante shampoo to give my hair a thorough wash.

Advante Hair Wash at The Beauty Emporium
Advante Hair Wash at The Beauty Emporium

After rinsing it off, she repeated it once more for a deep double cleanse. 

Advante Hair Wash at The Beauty Emporium
Advante Hair Wash at The Beauty Emporium

At the sink, Annie applied an express Advante treatment for that extra protection before the perm.

Advante Treatment Before Perm at The Beauty Emporium

Back at the seat, she towel-dried my hair.

Advante Treatment Before Perm at The Beauty Emporium

And even checked my hair's elasticity to ensure that it is ready for the perm.

Checking Hair Elasticity Before Perm at The Beauty Emporium

Looks like we are good to go!

Step 3: Haircut


Before heading into the perm, Annie cut the split ends so my hair wouldn't feel too dry afterwards. 

Haircut at The Beauty Emporium

She also added some layers to achieve the soft and light waves that would hopefully make me look younger.

Haircut at The Beauty Emporium

Step 4: Application of perm lotion


Next, she got the Advante perming cream ready,

Advante Perming Cream at The Beauty Emporium

then applied it onto my hair in small sections.

Application of Perm Lotion at The Beauty Emporium

She made sure to saturate each strand thoroughly with the perm solution.

Application of Perm Lotion at The Beauty Emporium

Once she was done, Annie wrapped one section of the hair into a small roller.

Application of Perm Lotion at The Beauty Emporium

As this treatment doesn't open the cuticles, she mentioned that the roller will help her determine if the hair is sufficiently softened. 

Application of Perm Lotion at The Beauty Emporium

Next, she wrapped it in a sheet of plastic to trap the heat and speed up the processing time.

Mild heat was also applied for further accelerate the process.

Application of Perm Lotion at The Beauty Emporium

After about 15 minutes, Annie unrolled the rollers to check if my curls was ready... and yes it was! 

Application of Perm Lotion at The Beauty Emporium

Annie then proceeded to rinse off the solution.

Step 5: Curling the hair


Back at the seat, Annie started curling my hair for real.

Hair Curling at The Beauty Emporium by The Urban Aesthetics

She used a mixture of large and medium rollers to create the loose waves she was looking for. 

Hair Curling at The Beauty Emporium by The Urban Aesthetics

She started from the bottom, rolled it to the mid of my hair, then clipped it in place.

Hair Curling at The Beauty Emporium by The Urban Aesthetics

The curls were facing inwards to create a softer, more natural look and repeated the process until all my hair was rolled up.

Hair Curling at The Beauty Emporium by The Urban Aesthetics

Next, she attached the rollers to the machine. 

Hair Curling at The Beauty Emporium by The Urban Aesthetics

Annie shared that this machine would heat up my hair evenly to create the loose waves. 

The process itself took about 20 minutes. 

Step 6: Setting the perm


When the time is up, the rollers were removed to reveal this! 

Hair Curling at The Beauty Emporium by The Urban Aesthetics

Don't worry, this is just a temporary curl that will loosen up once it's set in place. 

Hair Curling at The Beauty Emporium by The Urban Aesthetics

Next, she placed a tray on my neck and a towel around my hairline. Then she applied the neutralizer.

This step is done to close my hair cuticles and make the curls permanent.

Hair Curling at The Beauty Emporium by The Urban Aesthetics

And yes, I've got to wait another 20 minutes for the neutralizer to do its work!

Step 7: Wash & style


Hair Wash at The Beauty Emporium

Once she deemed my hair ready, Annie brought me to the sink for the final wash. 

Hair Wash at The Beauty Emporium

The Advante treatment is then applied at this point to repair any damage from the process. I love how there are so many treatments included in this perm (without any additional charge!)

Blow Dry at The Beauty Emporium

Back at the seat, Annie didn't just blow my hair dry; she took the effort to teach me how to twirl my hair when I blowdry it at home.

Blow Dry at The Beauty Emporium

Ready to see my final look?

Here is how my hair look now!

Younger and Cuter Look After Getting Soft Perm at The Beauty Emporium by The Urban Aesthetics
Younger and Cuter Look After Getting Soft Perm at The Beauty Emporium by The Urban Aesthetics

I love love love these curls! They're so soft and feminine.

Younger and Cuter Look After Getting Soft Perm at The Beauty Emporium by The Urban Aesthetics

I was afraid that the curls will make me look old but immediately after the perm, I had friends come to me and tell me how young and cute I looked. 

Younger and Cuter Look After Getting Soft Perm at The Beauty Emporium by The Urban Aesthetics

The curls itself look healthy and bouncy as well... I can't believe that my hair actually looks like this! 

If I wanted to look younger and cuter, Annie suggested adding some accessories.

Younger and Cuter Look After Getting Soft Perm at The Beauty Emporium by The Urban Aesthetics

She let me try on this star clip which happens to work really well with the curls. 

Younger and Cuter Look After Getting Soft Perm at The Beauty Emporium by The Urban Aesthetics

I'm definitely going hair accessory shopping after this!

Overall thoughts


Thank you Annie! It was my first time perming but Annie made the process stress-free and enjoyable. She chatted with me throughout and shared with me what I can expect every step of the way.. even teaching me how to blowdry and sharing tips on maintaining the curls afterwards;  I got Moroccan Oil and it works wonders for me. Thanks once again!

I had a great experience here at The Beauty Emporium by The Urban Aesthetics and I'm confident you will too.

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