Perm Rods

The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Perm Rod Sizes and Curl Results

Achieving a fine ringlet can seem challenging. Thankfully, perm rods are available, making the process much simpler.

Perm rods have proved to be a leading contender, outperforming all the tried-and-true methods you are familiar with to produce a stunning set of spirals. The trick is choosing a suitable rod, knowing what style you want, and selecting the chemical that works best for your hair type so that your curls last longer and are not damaged.

It may be challenging to keep track of all the different perm rods and their outcomes, so we have compiled an ultimate guide for you. It will assist you in understanding all about perming rods before you take the plunge to the salon.

Initially, these well-liked rollers were made for chemical perm treatments to set hair. They are now a natural hair staple and have taken on their own life. Due to their compact design, they are ideal for all kinds of hair. 

What Are Perm Rods?

Perm rods or hair rollers are plastic curling tools used by naturals and non-naturals alike to achieve defined curls. They frequently have tiny holes and are cylindrical. Perm rods come in a variety of colors and sizes. 

You use them by wrapping your strands around these curl rollers. You won’t have to worry about your strands falling out because traditional perm rods already have a clasp that holds them in place. You can think of them as a single curling tool for easy styling.

Types Of Perm Rods

There are 3 main types of perm rods.

Straight Perm Rods

Straight rods have a diameter that stays the same throughout their entire length. These create waves and curls that are uniform.


Flexi-rods, as the name suggests, are flexible, allowing you to shape the rod and wrap your hair around them for even more texture and body. Like other rods, they come in various diameters, allowing for either loose waves or tight ringlets. You can use them at home to get a variety of curls.

Concave Perm Rods

Concave perm rods, which are used the most, are thicker at the ends and thinner in the middle. You can make curls of varying tightness with these rods.

Perm Rod Sizes and Curls

How you want your curls to look depends on which size of perm rod you would use. Perm rod sizes are color-coded because identifying the various perm rods at a glance can be challenging. 

They have been divided into small, medium, large, and jumbo rods to make them simpler to select from. Additionally, they have been color-coded for our convenience. Brand-specific color coding can vary.

Small Rods

These rods give you the tightest perms and look best on hair that’s between three and four inches long.

The yellow, pink, and gray rods, each measuring 3/8, 7/16, and ½ inches, fall into this category.

Medium Rods

Compared to the small rod, these rods produce perms that are looser. These rods are well-liked because they are up to 8.8 cm long and provide medium-sized curls.

Work best with three to five inches long hair.

Larger Rods

The white ones are 9/16 inches long and can be used with medium to long hair to create controlled curls. The largest rods are the purple ones, which are 11/16 inches long.

Ideal for shoulder-length or longer hair. It helps in creating casual, everyday waves.

Jumbo Rods

Jumbo rods are available from green 1 1/16-inch rods to 1/2-inch rods. They are a good fit for long hair because they provide a larger area to wrap your hair around. 

Due to their enormous diameters, they also aid in creating waves that appear natural and effortless.

Spiral Rods

Spiral rods are specially used to create curls that look like corkscrews.

They come in various diameters, but their spiraled bodies give you beautiful, wavy ringlets that look very different from curls from a perm rod.

3 Different Types Of Perm Rod Material

In the same way that perm rods come in a wide range of sizes and shapes, they are made of the following materials.

  • Plastic Perm Rod 

Plastic perm rods are the most common, simple to use, clean, and disinfect.

  • Wooden Perm Rod

Wooden rods are a good option for people who want to use less plastic, but these are harder to clean and disinfect. It may also be difficult to prevent hair from rolling onto its wooden surface.

  • Self-Fastening Perm Rods

These plastic rods have tiny teeth and cling to your hair like a hook-and-loop closure. This self-sticking makes it easier to roll on hair and keeps the rollers in place. 


Chemical perms do not employ self-fastening rollers.

The Functions Of Colored Perm Rods

When choosing a rod color, it’s important to consider the kind of curl you want and how long your hair is.

Red Rods

These are the smallest rods, typically used to create tight curls on short hair.

These are ideal for hair less than two inches long.

Blue Rods

These rods are more significant than the red ones and can create looser curls in short hair.

You can use them to create prominent curls on hair longer than four inches.

Pink Rods

You should use these rods if your hair is longer than four inches and you want tight curls. Even if your hair is shorter, pink rods will help to create looser curls.

Gray Rods

These rods are regarded as “beneficial to everyone.” They typically achieve looser curls in shorter hair or a tighter curl for hair at least four inches long.

Purple Rods

These rods are used to get the well-known beach wave perm, which is becoming increasingly popular now. Usually, they are applied to highly long hair.

perm rod sizes and curl results

How To Use Perm Rods? 

Shampoo And Detangle Your Hair

It is essential to begin the process with damp, clean hair to style it quickly and achieve shiny curls. Shampoo thoroughly and comb out all tangles.

Apply Hair Product to Your Hair And Scalp

Foam and mousse are well-liked and used because they hydrate each curl while simultaneously adding volume and bounce. Although we wouldn’t say they’re necessary, they make curls or perms look better.

Section Your Damp Hair And Wrap it Around The Rods

Roll a lock from its end to your roots, starting at the base of your scalp. Clamp the rod shut to secure it.

Start at the top and continue until you have rolled all your sections. Finally, secure the rods by wrapping a scarf around your head to prevent frizz.

Decide Between Using Chemical or Non-chemical Methods

Chemical Method

To prevent skin irritation, place a cotton strip on your hairline and wrap a towel around your shoulders.

You should then apply the waving solution to each lock. Each curl does not need to be drenched, but it should be sufficiently saturated. Keep working on the solution for more than the allotted amount of time. If necessary, heat it to activation.

Check your hair immediately if the time is not specified in the instructions. Check if your lock has developed a limp S shape by lightly unraveling a curl every two to five minutes. When it occurs, rinse your hair thoroughly. 

Wash your hair to remove the solution, but leave the perm rods in place. Before applying the following solution, let your hair air dry. You can also use a blow dryer if you need to do it quickly.

Last but not least, apply the neutralizer similarly to the waving solution. Wash it all off after the allotted time has passed by leaving it on for no longer than is necessary.

Non-Chemical Method

Simply allow your hair to dry. Since this could take a few hours, we recommend you lay back with headphones and relax while you wait.

You can try releasing a small lock to see if your hair is dry. Put the clamp back in if it is still a little damp. Also, a hooded or blow dryer can speed up the process if you’re pressed for time.

Remove The Perm Rods 

Remove the perm rods from your hair once it has fully dried. Apply a serum to your hair to make it shine more. If you use chemicals, don’t wash your hair for at least three days, and don’t swim for a week.

How Many Perm Rods Do I Need?

How many perm rods you would need? One of the most common questions when you’re deciding on perm rods, it depends on your hair length and the look you want. People with longer hair require more rods than people with shorter hair, and perms with looser curls or waves require fewer rods.

Take a look at this list and match your hairstyle to it to get an idea of how many rods you need:

For Tight Curls

Expect to use roughly 50 small rods for tight curls in long hair. People with medium to short hair use between 20 to 40 rods to achieve tight curls.

For Loose Curls

Use 20 large or 30 medium rods for a more beachy wave if you have long hair. For waves and loose curl patterns, short and medium hair lengths will require 10 to 15 large rods or approximately 24 medium rods. Always remember that the perm cost increases when there are more rods, layers, or styles. 

How to Determine The Correct Size of Perm Rod to Use?

The length and texture of your hair and the final hairstyle you want are all important considerations when selecting the size of a perm rod.

Hair Length

With perm rods, you can achieve bouncy curls and significant volume, even if you have short hair. You have more room to work with the more hair you have. 

  • Short Hair

Short hair will require the smallest rods to produce the tightest curls. Additionally, fewer rods will be required for shorter hair.

  • Medium Hair

Medium hair can get loose waves or tight rings using suitable perm rods. Larger rods produce looser curls and waviness, whereas smaller rods produce tighter curls and bodies.

  • Long Hair

You can use any perm rod on long hair. The more hair you have, the more wraps you can make to create the most styles and curls.

Hair Texture

Hair texture is essential when it comes to perms. The processing agent, such as heat or chemicals, has a more significant impact on the surface of your hair than the rod you choose. All types of hair have been considered when designing perm rods. As a result, the following list gives you an idea of how the texture of your hair can affect the perming process:

  • Straight Hair

Natural curls and waves are almost nonexistent in straight hair. Although straight hair can easily be permed in any shape or style, it may be more likely to move around during a roller set.

  • Wavy Hair

Rods positively affect wavy hair because they make the waves bigger.

  • Curly Hair

There are multiple different sizes and shapes of perm rods for curly hair, like many different curls. Curly hair is frequently permed close to the roots to help give it more body.

  • Tightly Curled Hair

When perming tightly curled hair, delicate care is required. This type of hair is typically the most fragile and can break easily. Consult your stylist about how to get the look you want.

  • Natural Hair

Natural hair already has a beautiful shape and condition. As a result, perm rods ought to emphasize the existing shape and fashion. You can also perm natural hair with perm rods without heat, securing the desired shape with conditioners and hair masks.

  • Your Desired Hairstyle

The best perm rod for your desired perm hairstyle depends on its texture and length; the tighter the curl, the smaller the perm rod. For instance, the natural springiness of pin curl perms is achieved by using smaller rods. 

Similarly, the lazy spirals of a beachy wave style are created with larger rods. Because shorter hair requires fewer perm rods than longer hair for many curl types, your options are further narrowed by your hair length.

Benefits Of Using Perm Rods

  • Suitable for all hair types and lengths
  • Improve curl definition
  • Create flawless curls and waves
  • Require low maintenance
  • Simple and easy to make
  • Affordable

Rod Alternatives

If perm rods don’t appeal to you, you can try the following alternatives:

Round Brush

You can achieve decent curls with a round brush and a blow dryer, even if you don’t have any perm rods. You will, however, be able to create tight curls if you have a very small one. 

If you don’t currently have a set of perm rods, trying out a round brush would be an interesting save and a great workaround. However, perm rods give you tighter, bouncier curls.

Flexi Rods

As per their name, flexi rods are made of soft, flexible foam. Despite their apparent ease of use, they can require some time to master.

There are no clasps on them, unlike with perm rods. As a result, when you wrap your hair around a rod, you must manually twist it. Doing this could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you like to style things.

Flexi rods, on the other hand, give you many options. No matter how long or big a rod is, you can use them to create loose waves and tight curls. 

Roller Sets

There are many different roller sets, some better used with heat and others with wet styling. For instance, you can use Velcro rollers with wet or dry hair. Because they come equipped with small hooked teeth that hold your hair in place, they are even simpler to pick up than perm rods.

However, we will not recommend them for short or long hair because they could quickly become tangled or fall off.

On the other hand, hot rollers style your hair with heat. However, compared to curling irons, they require less heat and time to set your curls. If you prefer to style with heat, these are healthier alternatives.

Curling iron

Using a curling iron to create perms is very different from using perm rods because you have to start with dry hair and use heat to style it.

Additionally, they come in various diameters, allowing you to select a model with a barrel size that meets your requirements.

However, you can purchase an iron with various barrel attachments if you want to experiment with other designs! They are one advantage over rods and rollers because they are smaller.

Be sure always to use the appropriate temperature for your hair profile. With intense heat, your hair is at an intense risk of damage. 

Tips For Perm Rod Hairstyles Maintenance 

Certain products and hair care are needed to keep a perm in place. When it’s time to wash your hair after a perm, use shampoos and conditioners made just for perms. You shouldn’t wash your hair for the first 48 hours. To ensure that your hair regains its natural strength, use conditioner regularly.

If you want to keep your curls for longer, don’t wash or dry them with high heat. Because these chemicals will cause your hair to become dry and damaged, you should only use hair products that do not contain alcohol, dyes, or sulfates. Using a silk scarf to cover your locks at night can help prevent damage and frizz.

Final Thoughts!

Almost any type of hair can achieve beautiful curls using rods. Choosing the right perm rod is the first step in achieving your desired style, ranging from curly ringlets to carefree waves. Remember that the smaller the rod, the tighter the curl, so you can experiment with trendy curls that complement your personality and style.

Lastly, a perm involves the application of potent chemicals that alter the internal structure of your hair. Hence it is suggested all the time always to consult your professional if you need clarification.


How long do perm rods take to set?

Perm rods typically require 8 to 10 hours to set to achieve the finest curl possible for your hair type.

Can I achieve big curls with perm rods?

Just use perm rods that are 3/4- to 1-inch in diameter. You can use jumbo rods with rods ranging from 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches for even larger curls.

How long does a perm rod hairstyle last?

Perm rods have a lot of beauty, and one thing we like about them is that the curls they make usually last a long time. With proper care, rod curls can last up to five days, whereas most curly hair techniques only last a day or two.

Are perm rods better than flexi rods?

Not necessarily. Perm rods will help you achieve tighter curls, regardless of their size. With flexi rods, your curls will be looser.

Can a perm rod give you big curls?

Yes, you can achieve big bouncy curls using a perm rod. A spiral perm is best if you want a style that gives you big, voluminous curls. This type of perm can create either tighter or looser curls, depending on your preference, and it uses larger rods than traditional perms. Additionally, spiral perms typically last 3 to 6 months.

How many perm rods do I need?

Your desired hairstyle and the length and thickness of your mane will determine the total number of rods. A typical number of rods for medium-length hair is between 24 and 36. You’ll need between 36 and 46 rods to get small, tight curls. You will need only 15 to 27 for loose beach waves. However, you can adjust the numbers according to whether you have short or long hair.

What size perm rod for beach waves?

The best perm rod for a beach wave perm is an 11/16-inch one. Using this perm rod, you can quickly achieve the appearance of a medium curl.

Are 3 inches enough for a perm?

The shortest amount of hair needed for a perm is typically two inches. The perm effect varies depending on the length of the hair. For instance, if your hair is two to three inches long, a very small rod can fit there, but your curls will be extremely tight.

What two factors influence the choice of different size perm rods?

Consider your hair’s length and texture as the most important influence factors when choosing the size of perm rods to use. 

Which Perm Rod Is Most Commonly Used?

The most prevalent type of rod is the concave rod. They can make a wide variety of curls and waves. The curl stays varied and close to the head because of its smaller center diameter.

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