Perming your hair will give you curled locks that range from a soft wave to tight spiral curls. Perms typically last for three months; but depending on your hair type, hair length, how often you wash your hair and how quickly your hair grows, your perm can last up to six months. Although this option is great for women (and men) with poker straight or fussy hair, the processing chemicals can be quite damaging to your locks. Instead of risking your hair, try a few different perming alternatives. They may not be "permanent," but they can give you the same look without the money and damage.
For those looking for curls that are little curlier than waves, but not pin curls, consider hot rollers. You can purchase hot rollers from any drug store or beauty supply store for typically under $40 -- which is much less than most places charge for a perm. You can also purchase hot rollers in varying widths to give you different options on curl size. To get the look, spritz your hair with hairspray, then roll each hot roller around a small section of hair about 1-inch in width. Leave the rollers in your hair for 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully, unwrap each hot roller from your hair without pulling the roller straight out, as this can cause the curl to flatten a bit. Finger comb your hair, and spray with hairspray to keep the look all day. Although much safer than perms, using hot rollers everyday can still dry out your hair. For protection, condition your hair with a deep conditioning treatment once a week.
For tighter curls without drying out your hair, try sponge curlers. Sponger curlers, which are super cheap, are available at most drug stores or beauty supply shops. Like hot rollers, they can come in varying widths for options in curl size. For best results, towel dry your hair until it's almost dry. Spray a light layer of hairspray or spray gel into your hair. Wrap small sections of hair – about 1/2-inch in width –around each sponge curler. Spray your hair with some more hairspray, then sleep on the sponge curlers. Since they're made of sponges, they are a little more comfortable to sleep on that other plastic curlers. Remove each curler in the morning to reveal your super curly hair that can last until you wash it.
For volume and waves, you can learn how to round brush your hair. Purchase a natural boar bristle, round brush in the size that you want. The larger the round brush, the larger your waves will be. After towel drying your hair until it's damp, use the round brush to dry your hair. For best results, split your hair into three sections. Working on one section at a time, roll your hair through the round brush while applying the heat from your hair dryer to the hair wrapped around the brush. Continue working on the hair around the brush until the section is dried. When finished, spray a light mist of hairspray throughout your hair to keep your waves. Blowing out your hair will also help to rid your hair of frizz and fly-a-ways. Although much less damaging than a perm, drying your hair with a blow dryer can still dry out your locks. For protection, spray your hair with a thermal heat protectant spray before drying.
Curling Shampoo and Conditioner
If your hair has a hard time holding the curl from hot rollers or a blow out, try curling shampoos. Wash your hair with the curling shampoo and conditioner as normal. Once out of the shower, you can use your hair dryer, curling iron or hot rollers to give yourself the curls that you want and so they last. Keep in mind that curling shampoos and conditioners will not give you curly hair, but the ingredients will help stubborn straight hair to keep curl a little better.