We present a pedagogical review of the universal scaling properties displayed by the structure function F_2 at small x and large Q^2 as measured at HERA. We first describe the derivation of the double asymptotic scaling of F_2 from the leading-order Altarelli-Parisi equations of perturbative QCD. Universal next-to-leading order corrections to scaling are also derived. We explain why the universal scaling behaviour is spoiled when the initial distributions rise too steeply by considering the nonsinglet distribution F_2^p-F_2^n as an explicit example. We then examine the stability of double scaling to the inclusion of higher order singularities, explaining how the perturbative expansion at small x can be reorganized in such a way that each order is given by the sum of a convergent series of contributions which are of arbitrarily high order in the coupling. The wave-like nature of perturbative evolution is then shown to persist throughout almost all the small x region, giving rise asymptotically to double scaling for a wide class of boundary conditions.