5 Reasons Why Some Perms Don't Last Long

Published on Sep 23, 2020

In hectic Singapore, getting a perm can cut down grooming time by setting your hair in the perfect position for months. But while perm is supposed to be short for 'Permanent Wave', some of us might find it more temporary than we like. Here are 5 reasons why this may be the case:

1. Your Stylist Did Not Sufficiently Soften Your Hair

The digital perm process works this way. First, the perm lotion is applied to your hair to break existing bonds within. The stylist will then use a curler and apply heat to create the desired curls. Finally, a neutralizer is then applied to fix the new curls in shape and voila, you get beautiful waves for up to 6 months. 

One common reason why SOME perms don't last is because the stylist did not sufficiently soften your hair. When this first step is not done well, your hair won't be able to take on the new curls, resulting in limp and vague curls that straighten in a jiffy. 

That's why you'll find that many experienced stylists like Ricky from The Bund Hair Salon taking extra precautions when perming; they will twirl several bunches of hair during the softening process and untwirl them to check if the hair is sufficiently softened at different areas. 

Perm Check at The Bund AMK

It is small details like this that ensures the longevity of your perm!

2. The Perm Lotion Used was too Mild

If you read our previous article on Advante Perm vs MUCOTA Perm vs Tokio Sinka Perm vs Arimino Perm, you'll realize that there are many many perm lotions out there. The ingredients within e.g. use of ammonium thioglycolate or Cysteamine will affect how long the perm will last. Also, perm lotions tend to come in different strengths. If your stylist used a perm lotion that is too weak for your hair, you'll probably find that the curls will not be able to hold or last for many months. 

If you go to Ricky, you don't have to worry as he's currently using the most advanced low-damage perm lotion Advante. The curls doesn't just turn out so pretty, it lasts long too! 

3. You used the Wrong Shampoo / Conditioner

Usage of Wrong Shampoo or Conditioner Damage The Perm

To be honest, your stylist is not always the one at fault. Using the wrong shampoo and conditioner can dry out your hair and cause it to degenerate into a frizzy cloud of mess. One example of a wrong shampoo is clarifying shampoos. While clarifying shampoos are great for getting rid of product buildup on hormal hair, it is too harsh for newly permed hair, causing the curls to give way prematurely. The same goes for scalp shampoos and typical off-the-shelf shampoos that tend to dry out the hair excessively. 

It is hence ideal to get your stylist's recommendation about the type of shampoo and conditioner that can help lengthen the life of your perm and make your dollar stretch that much longer. 

4. You went for a swim... and continued to style your hair with heat daily

Honestly, a perm isn't hard to take care of but it does place some restrictions on the type of activities you want to go for... if you want it to last long. 

Swimming Can Damage Perm

Firstly, permed hair and swimming just doesn't mix. Chlorinated water damages hair and cause it to dry out. So if you go for a swim frequently after a perm, you would probably have to expect the perm to last for a shorter period of time.

PRO TIP: No promises but if you're an avid swimmer, you can apply coconut oil / hair oils on your hair THEN wear a swimming cap over it so that the chlorine doesn't get to your hair that much. 

Another thing that doesn't go well with perms is heat styling. You can tong your hair so once in a while but doing so daily will damage your hair and cause the cuticles to flip up. This alters the shape of hair, going down the slippery slope of saying goodbye to your precious curls. 

5. Your Hair is Too Fine.. or too damaged. 

There are some people who look amazing after their perm and then there's some of us whose hair just looks... limp afterwards. Other than your stylist, your genetic makeup may be a contributing factor. 

Those with coarse hair can go to almost any stylist and perm their hair for the first time and it'll look good as their hair is strong enough to sustain the damage from even the cheapest harshest perm lotion. Those of you with fine hair however test the capability of your stylist the most. 

Cat Hair Too Damaged or Too Fine

As fine hair tends to be more fragile, it starts to disintegrate when you apply the perm lotion that is too strong for too long. Apply something too weak and the curls are not visible at all. As there is a very fine balance to toe between creating a visible curl and frying one's hair, many stylists tend to turn away customers with fine hair, saying that perm is not possible.

With innovations in perm technology, however, that is no longer true. The Bund Hair Salon , for example, uses a perm lotion whose damage is so low that it is almost impossible to fry one's hair. This gives stylists more assurance and buffer to ensure that the hair is properly softened while enabling them to create longer lasting curls! 

In summary, how long a perm lasts depends largely on a stylist's skill and understanding of your hair chemistry to match the right type of perm lotion to your hair needs. Just because your perm by one stylist didn't last long doesn't mean that it will forever be this way. Choosing the right stylist and salon can hence go a long way in helping you achieve your desired waves, something Agent J can attest to! Read about her recent experience at The Bund Hair Salon to see how Ricky managed to help her achieve her dream curls - curls that actually last.

An Introduction to Agent J

Hi, my name is Agent J. I juggle my professional life as an Account Manager with my home life as a mother.

Flat Fine Hair

I like perms for their ability to keep me looking groomed without much work on my part, because who has the time?

However, with my previous perm about one year ago, I found my hair losing its curl just 3 months after the salon visit.

Flat Fine Hair

Was it because my hair was too fine or too damaged? To be honest, I do not know.

I have since had the half-heartedly curled portions trimmed off, so it now just looks like I have very slightly wavy hair.

Flat Fine Hair

Unfortunately, I also think it looks dead. Without the movement of the perm, my 'do looks flat and lifeless, an impression which isn't helped by how dry it is due to my constantly colouring it over many, many years. .

Then a friend of mine introduced me to Beauty Undercover, where Agent G suggested a volumizing perm at a trusted salon. With my then hair-hopelessness, I thought, what have I got to lose?

Agent J Perms Her Hair at The Bund @ AMK

The Bund at AMK

When I first arrived, I was surprised at the location for The Bund Hair Salon. It was in the relatively central and accessible Bishan, but to my delight, was also smack in the middle of the greenery of Bishan Park. This was a lovely air-conditioned space with floor-to-ceiling glass windows for forest bathing (okay park bathing). I was excited already.

Step 1: Consultation

Hair Consultation at The Bund AMK

Ricky introduced himself as my stylist for the day, and also proved to be a fun conversation partner. Throughout the salon session, we discussed everything under the sun, including whether it was actually a good idea to move house so my kids would have access to certain primary schools...yes, he was more than happy to hear out my mom worries. 

But perhaps more pertinently, we discussed my hair in depth. While he can't tell me why the previous perm didn't last but he assured me that it is most definitely not due to the condition of my hair. Ricky gave my crown an expert once-over and reassured me that other than at the ends, my hair was actually only dry on the surface, with the inside still strong and well-hydrated. This meant that it would be a good candidate for a perm (yay!), something which he recommended to liven up the heaviness of my straight, one-length hair.

Knowing that I just want a hint of waves to give it some character, Ricky suggested curling only the lower portions of my hair to buoy up my coiff and complement my facial features. 

Hair Wash at The Bund AMK

I agreed, and after speedily trimming my damaged hair-ends, I got a nice relaxing shampoo and wash before beginning my actual perm.

Step 2: Application of Perm Lotion

As usual, the perm begins with the preparation of the perm lotion.

Application of Perm Lotion at The Bund AMK

Once the right amounts of perm lotion was measured, Ricky applied it on the second half of my hair as promised. 

Application of Perm Lotion at The Bund AMK

Once complete,  he then wrapped my hair in cling wrap and steamed it for about 10 minutes.

Application of Perm Lotion at The Bund AMK

After steaming my hair, Ricky took a slim lock of it and curled it around a small rod.

Application of Perm Lotion at The Bund AMK

This was to test the elasticity of my hair to ensure that my hair was sufficiently softened. This is not something I usually find that other salons bother with, and I was grateful that Ricky took this extra step so as not to waste my time with a perm that would barely hang around for three months.

Volumizing Perm at The Bund AMK

When the lock emerged bouncy and coiled, RIcky pronounced the experiment a success, and began my transformation. 

Step 3: Perm

Volumizing Perm at The Bund AMK

Ricky looped each lock of hair so that it was doubled on itself, and then gently pulled that entire bundle through two sheets of wool before coiling them into rollers - Something I have never seen before.

Volumizing Perm at The Bund AMK

He explained to me that by doubling the hair on itself, more strands can be simultaneously curled and that the chemical processing time is just about halved, thus protecting the hair’s proteins from being damaged. This helps to ensure healthy locks and a long-lasting perm.

Volumizing Perm at The Bund AMK

Ricky was swift but super-scrupulous. It was really quite a marvel to watch his precision, and also made me feel like I was in good hands.

Volumizing Perm at The Bund AMK

With all the coils in the right place and the relevant solutions applied, my hair was permed for just 15 minutes - a stunningly short time!

I was concerned that this wouldn't be anough, but Ricky reassured me that his techniques allow him to achieve the same beautiful perms as other stylists, only in a much shorter duration. I thought how this was a godsend for busy professionals and/or parents running from appointment to appointment - Perfect presentability without the waiting.

Volumizing Perm at The Bund AMK

The Neutralizer was then applied, and after just 5 more minutes of processing and a quick rinse, the curls were done.

Step 4: Styling

Styling After Hair Perm at The Bund AMK

It was incredible that such charming curls could emerge in about an hour. Ricky advised me to blowdry my hair after washing, but after I point-blank told him that I didn't have the time, Ricky suggested that I at least comb through my hair after showering to help minimise moisture that would weigh the curls down.

Styling After Hair Perm at The Bund AMK

He also explained that by combing my hair while it was still wet, I wouldn't be loosening the curl structure, unlike if I did the same with dry hair. It was also more efficient than waiting for hair to dry before brushing.

Ricky really understands what it's like to be always on the go, and is dedicated to dreaming up styling and maintenance solutions for people with this lifestyle.

Styling After Hair Perm at The Bund AMK

He also showed me quick ways to shape and style the waves outside the salon - twist into a coil, and then take that entire coil and crank it in one direction. Fast and fuss-free.

Ricky was so patient and thorough, I couldn't help but be impressed. No other stylist understood my needs as much as him!

Finally, we unveil his masterpiece:

An elegant perm that took only about an hour to complete and supposedly, little to no time to maintain.

It was a dream come true for a working mother like myself.

Volumized Hair After Perm at The Bund AMK

I continue to be surprised at how a process that took such a short duration could produce these beautiful results. I didn't have to constantly look over my shoulder but left my hair completely in his good hands, and I'm glad I did.

Volumized Hair After Perm at The Bund AMK

The perm buoyed up my features and gave my hair (and myself, honestly) life and energy.

Volumized Hair After Perm at The Bund AMK

I can hardly believe it but this perm actually left my hair looking much healthier than before!

Volumized Hair After Perm at The Bund AMK


It's been 2 months since my perm and I'm happy to report that my hair still looks amazing! The curls have loosened slightly but are definitely still defined and voluminous. Maintenance was also very easy as I literally wake up looking like this. 

Volumized Hair After Perm at The Bund AMK

What a godsend! 


My last disappointing perm that barely lasted 3 months got me wondering if it was me. Was it my hair that was unsuitable for a perm? 

I can now confidently say that this is not the case. Under Ricky's expert hands, my hair was transformed from its straight dull appearance to the lively feminine curls I could only dream of.

THANK YOU SO MUCH, RICKY - not just for giving me such beautiful hair but also the many tips to maintain my hair so easily. 

Before meeting Ricky, I was constantly going to different salons trying out different treatments and stylists. Now that I found a stylist I can truly trust, I can safely say that my wandering days are over. 

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