Getting a perm for those beautiful curls is definitely a looks and confidence booster… but what about that bad perm smell that you sometimes get after visiting your hair stylist?
That’s exactly what we’re going to talk about today in this article, so that you can learn why perms smell so bad, how long it will take before the smell goes away, what you can do about it and more.
What does a perm smell like?
If it’s your first time getting a perm and you’re just starting to feel a very bad odor around you – something that you can associate with rotten eggs or sulfur – welcome to the club!
This is how perms smell like and even though in most cases the odor won’t be that bad and you will still be able to minimize it using various methods that we’re going to talk about below, you’ll still have it more or less.
Why do perms smell so bad?
When getting a perm, the most common method – mainly because it’s the one that offers the longest lasting effects – is by using a mix of chemicals on the hair.
These chemicals are very strong actually, as they basically change the structure of your hair, and even though modern day advancements have made the chemicals less irritating for the skin and as odor-free as possible… the smell is simply part of an equation.
So as long as you’re using the chemical method, your perm hair will smell more or less, depending on how skilled your stylist is, how thorough they are with the entire process and the quality of the products used to get your perm done.
Perms and color are 2 of the biggest money makers in the hair industry and can do the most damage. Granted, they make us feel younger and more attractive, so I’m sure the decline of these chemicals is not imminent in the near future, but fortunately there’s a huge improvement in their quality over the years.
I saw a lot of stylists that either didn’t care or forgot the proper procedures for giving perms. Steps were always missed and they shouldn’t have been. Hint: that perm smell comes from missed steps sometimes!
I often saw that the hair wasn’t rinsed long enough when perming and if you do not get all of the perm out and take the proper steps when you put the neutralizer on, it will seal in the smell of the perm and you will smell like that perm for a very long time.
I know it feels like a very long time when you are rinsing someone, but it needs to be done. A timer should always be set for the proper time limit and care should be taken for every inch of that head.
So if your stylist isn’t very careful about that, make sure to let them know that you do want to be properly rinsed: getting the smell off afterwards will be more difficult!
When does the perm smell go away?
You might wonder how long will it take for the perm smell to go away and even feel frustrated asking yourself why won’t it go away faster.
And unfortunately, unless you take some measures on your own, the smell will stay with you for a while, usually around 3-4 days. But it gets more and more bearable as time goes by.
So this is how long the perm smell lasts generally and fortunately, with improvements in the technique of applying a perm, things are getting better.
How to get the perm smell out of your hair?
The problem is that once the smell has settled, there’s not a lot that you can do immediately as you are not supposed to wash your hair for at least 2 days after getting your perm done.
However, if the smell is really strong, you can go and rinse your hair with water before the couple of days pass. Even shampooing is an option if the smell is unbearable and generally the damage to the perm will be minimal.
The chemicals that interact with your hair will make it stick to its curly shape even if you wash it after several hours – or at least damage will be minimal. It’s called a perm (from “permanent”) for a reason!
This is why it’s extremely important to rinse your hair thoroughly BEFORE applying the neutralizer.
Also, you can go back to your stylist and ask them to add some more neturalizer. Although this rarely fixes the problem, sometimes it will help.
You can also try to apply a coconut oil mask or any other hair mask that will cover the smell and also clean your hair a bit. Coconut oil hair masks are the best option generally, as they will have properties that will not only work to hide the smell, but also remove some of it as well.
There are various other rinses that you can try at home using household items, like an apple cider vinegar rinse or a lemon juice rinse… but these can interact with the actual perm more than others do.
The big companies make products now so people can perm and color in the same day. Are we really in that big of a hurry to totally damage our hair?
Yes, of course we are. We want what we want right now.
Of course when you start with a new client you have to have them sign a release form in case of an accident, but as far as I’m concerned that doesn’t stop the moral obligation to inform clients of all the possible damage that could incur.
There are some shops that will do whatever their client wants just for the money without bothering to point out the possible end results. Try not to become their client and instead go for those who properly rinse your hair when getting a perm done, so that you won’t have to deal with the bad smell afterwards.
Because, as I kept saying, it’s a lot easier to prevent or at least reduce that bad perm smell by properly rinsing it before applying the neutralizer than it is to get rid of it afterwards.