Skip the '80s frizz that full-on perms tend to leave behind and rock a partial perm instead. This process gives body, wave or texture to select strands, leaving the rest to hang naturally. You can DIY a partial perm, but the trick is predicting how your hair will change during processing. Perming hair changes its wave pattern and makes it more coarse, meaning that your partial may stand out too boldly from your natural. Employ the help of a professional stylist if your final look demands some expert styling to blend it properly.
Wash and condition your hair. This is no time for harsh treatment, so skip the detergent-like shampoos and go with a natural formulation. Gently squeeze sections of your hair to remove water. Wrap your hair in an old T-shirt for 30 minutes to absorb more water, then let your hair air-dry. Skip heated drying or towel drying your hair, as these techniques weaken hair follicles.
Trim damaged sections from your hair. You may love bleaching, relaxing or heat-based styling, but your follicles don't. Cut away knots, dry sections and split ends so you only perm healthy hair that can withstand some abuse.
Comb or divide the hair you plan to perm and clip it so you keep it away from the hair you want to leave natural. Skip this step if you want a root perm, as you will treat the top 3 or 4 inches of your strands and leave the bottom section natural.
Divide the hair you plan to perm into sections and wrap the strands around perm rods. To create larger curls, use plastic rollers instead.
Coat the remainder of your hair with a protective agent that stops the perm solution from processing it. Professional stylists often use end wraps, but a thick cream conditioner that does not drip also does the trick.
Consult the manufacturer's directions for mixing your perming formulas. Apply the mixture according to instructions. Don't try to get your money's worth by using all the mixture. You should use far less perm solution than if you were treating your whole head.
Cover your hair with a shower cap and leave the solution to soak according to the time recommended on your perm kit's instructions. Do not exceed the time limit. If your scalp feels like it is burning, remove the perm solution immediately.
Rinse your hair and work neutralizer through your permed hair. Leave it in for as long as directions indicate, typically less than 10 minutes. Rinse out the neutralizer.
Remove the perm rods and let your hair air-dry. Once it's dry, shake out your hair and watch the direction your waves roll.
Work styling products through your hair to blend or create contrast with your partial perm. Even out inconsistencies and trim away bulk with thinning shears.