How to Do a Perm Step-by-Step

by Elle Hanson ; Updated September 28, 2017

A home perm is not the arduous process that you may think. Although specific directions vary between perm kits, most follow the same basic procedure. To get bouncy, luxurious curls, make sure your are well acquainted with the perming process before you begin. If you have any questions about the best type of perm for your hair or how to optimize the results, speak to a hair dresser for professional input.

Items you will need

  • Home perm kit
  • Shampoo
  • 2 to 3 large towels
  • Salon cape
  • Hair rollers
  • Spritzer
  • Vaseline
  • Cotton roll
  • Blow dryer
  • Leave-in conditioner
Step 1

Read the instructions included in the perm kit thoroughly before beginning.

Step 2

Wash the hair using shampoo.

Step 3

Use a towel to remove excess moisture from the hair. Hair should be damp, but not wet.

Step 4

Place a towel or salon cape around the person's neck. Keep one or two other towels handy to wipe away any drips.

Step 5

Roll your hair in curlers, using a spritzer to keep your hair damp if it starts to dry. Be sure to tuck the ends of each lock smoothly against the roller to prevent frizzing at the ends. For loose curls, use larger rollers. For tight curls, use smaller rollers.

Step 6

Apply Vaseline along the hairline, working your way behind each ear and around the nape of the neck. This will protect the skin from the perm solution if it drips off the hair.

Step 7

Press the cotton roll to the Vaseline, tucking it behind the ears so that it surrounds the entire scalp. This will add extra protection against any drips.

Step 8

Apply the perm solution to each curl, being careful not to miss any. You should apply enough solution to saturate the hair, but not so much that it is dripping wet.

Step 9

Allow the perm solution to remain on the hair for the time specified in the perm kit instructions. If it requires heat activation, use a blow dryer on it.

Step 10

Remove the cotton roll.

Step 11

Rinse the hair using lukewarm water, leaving the curlers in place.

Step 12

Apply neutralizing solution to each curl. Add just enough to saturate each curl and save the rest.

Step 13

Carefully remove each curler, being careful not to stretch the hair.

Step 14

Massage the remaining neutralizing solution into your hair.

Step 15

Rinse your hair using lukewarm water.

Step 16

Apply a leave-in conditioner only if the instructions call for it.

Step 17

Allow your hair to air dry.


  • Always follow the manufacturer's instructions, even if they differ from the steps outlined above.

Photo Credits

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