Why does my hair smell like a perm when wet? Because your hair is damaged…

something stinks and a girl with permed hair covers her nose

  • If your hair still smells like a perm when you wet it, it may be because it was damaged and weak when you got it permed.
  • To get rid of the smell you need to moisturize and repair your hair.
  • In this article, I’ll give you 5 tips on how to remove the perm smell from your hair.


If you want to go straight to finding out how to get the smell of perm out of your hair, click here.


Did you get a perm, but after several washes, you can still smell the product?


I understand exactly how you feel.

 Many of us know that perm smell  and when we smell it we want to run away.


I’ll be honest with you: in my salon, the fewer perms I do the better. You don’t just suffer from the smell throughout the whole process, but  it also stays in your nose for the rest of the day. 


That smell isn’t at all pleasant, so I can imagine what you must be feeling. You didn’t only have to put up with the smell while you got your perm but  every time you wet your hair that ugly smell comes out again. 

But don’t worry, it’s something that just happens sometimes. And, like everything in life (or almost everything), it has a solution.


YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY: Should I wash my hair 48 or 72 hours after a perm? 72 hours is ideal for these reasons


Why do I still have a perm smell in my hair? It’s because of your damaged hair

Red-haired girl with permed curly hair complaints

Normally, after a perm, you’re left with that ugly smell that I doubt anyone would find pleasing.

But after 48 hours  you do your first wash and that smell disappears  completely and you start to enjoy your curls.


However, there are those other times.  Even though you’ve been looking forward to that moment, the smell is still hanging around , sometimes even after weeks and especially when your hair is wet.


YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: Does getting a perm cause hair damage? Can it cause hair loss?


“Why is this happening to me?” A hairdresser explains

Yes, I know you’re asking this question and the answer is a bit complex. But I’m going to try to explain it to you in a few simple words.

When we apply products to permanently curl or wave hair,  the “disulfide bridges” in the hair are broken . These change their form and the curl we’re looking for stays put.

What does this have to do with the smell?


If your hair is a little weak or thin already, it may be that this process is a little more intense for your hair.

Also,  when you wet your hair, the “hydrogen bonds”  are broken (and once they dry they rejoin). This releases that peculiar smell, which  is actually the smell of sulfur. 


It’s not something that happens to everyone. But if your hair was already damaged,  it’s logical that you can still smell the perm when you wet your hair. 

How can you fix it?


 The solution is simple: moisturize and repair your permed hair.

To do this, you need a new hair care and wash routine, and here’s what you should do.


YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY READING: How often should you wash permed hair? Should you wash it every day?


How do I get the perm smell out of my hair? Here are 5 tips

To get rid of the perm smell for good you should adopt  a new hair care routine, one that includes moisturizing and repairing. 


  • Wash your hair with a moisturizing cream. You can leave it on after shampooing for at least 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Use a moisturizing styling cream and oil for your ends.
  • You can choose to use coconut oil once a week and leave it on overnight.
  • Use repairing masks. This way your hair will look healthy again. You can use them twice a week for the first 15 days and then once a week.
  •  Stay away from the straightener and blow dryer , as they dehydrate the hair fiber.



Even if you think  your hair might smell like a perm until it grows out,  rest assured. This won’t be the case.

As I explained above, there is a solution:  you can remove the perm smell by moisturizing and repairing your hair. 


Follow the tips I gave you and  that unpleasant smell will disappear and you will enjoy your curls:  wet, dry, combed, or tousled.

But next time you perm your hair,  make sure you take care of it so this doesn’t happen to you again. 

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