How to Give Yourself a Body Wave Perm

Use larger perm rods to get body and wave instead of tight curls.

Photo: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Perms add volume, wave and texture permanently -- well, at least for three months. That's about as permanent as anything gets when it comes to hair. To get said texture, you could go to a salon and spend a hundred bucks or you could go the home perm route. If you decide to do it yourself, there are some things you should know about giving a body wave before you get started.


Choose the size of your rod. Larger ones create body and wave; smaller ones create curl. So, stick with the big ones -- white, purple or peach -- and start rolling. Place individual rods by carving out 1/2-inch-by-2-inch sections of hair. You can place the rods in neat little rows, but you don't have to. Roll each section by placing a perm end paper around the ends of the hair. Tuck the end paper around the rod and start rolling. Secure the locking band when you reach the scalp.


Squirt perm solution onto the top and underside of each perm rod. Process the perm with your head covered -- a plastic bag will work nicely -- and process at room temperature for about 20 minutes. While you're processing, be careful not to place tension on the rods. Avoid itching and pulling on the rods. If you have color-treated hair, reduce the processing time to 10 minutes.


Rinse for a full five minutes with a steady flow of warm water to remove all of the perm solution and the smell that goes along with it. Do not mess with the rods while rinsing. Moving the rods while your hair is in a fragile state may cause breakage -- those short hairs that seem to pop up after a new perm.

Finishing Up

Towel-blot, then apply the neutralizer. Leave the neutralizer on for five minutes. Gently take the rods out of your hair and rub the neutralizer into your hair, massaging your scalp as you work it through. Rinse with warm water, towel-dry and style.

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