perm hair

The Ultimate Guide to Perming Your Hair in 2023

Perming is a chemical process that has been used for decades to add curls or waves to straight hair. Despite its popularity, perming can be a complex and intimidating process, with many different types of perms available and a variety of factors to consider when deciding whether to get one.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about hair perming, including the different types of perms, how to care for permed hair, and common mistakes to avoid. Whether you’re considering getting a perm or simply want to learn more about this classic hair styling technique, this article has got you covered.

The History of Hair Styling and Perms

Perms have been around for centuries, and their origins can be traced back to ancient Egypt, where men and women would use a combination of mud and water to create curls in their hair. The first modern-day perm was invented in the 1900s by Karl Nessler, a German hairdresser who developed a machine to create long-lasting curls using heat and chemicals.

The popularity of perms increased in the 1960s and 1970s when prominent, voluminous hair became fashionable. Celebrities like Farrah Fawcett and Cher popularized the look, and many women sought to recreate it with perms. However, the 1980s saw a decline in the popularity of perms as people began to favor straighter, more natural-looking hair.

In recent years, perms have returned, many opting for beachy waves and loose curls. Perms have come a long way since their invention, and there are now many types of perms available, each with unique benefits.

The Science Behind How Perms Work

Perms work by breaking down the chemical bonds in the hair and then reform them to create a new shape. The process involves applying a chemical solution to the hair, softening it, and making it more pliable. Once the hair is soft, it is wrapped around perm rods or rollers, and then another solution is applied to reform the hair into the desired shape.

The key ingredient in perm solutions is usually Ammonium Thioglycolate, a reducing agent that breaks down the Disulfide bonds in the hair. Once these bonds are broken down, the hair can be molded into a new shape. Another ingredient commonly found in perm solutions is hydrogen peroxide, which oxidizes the hair and creates a new set of Disulfide bonds that hold the unique shape in place.

It’s important to note that perms can damage the hair, as the chemicals used can strip the hair of its natural oils and cause it to become dry and brittle. However, permed hair can remain healthy and beautiful with proper care and maintenance.

Hair Perm Process

If you’re considering getting a perm, it’s important to know that there are two popular types of processes available: traditional perm and digital perm. Each process has its own unique characteristics and can achieve different results.

We’ll compare both processes to help you make an informed decision about which process is best for you.

Traditional PermsDigital Perms
Uses Ammonium Thioglycolate, and neutralizerUses thioglycolic acid and digital perm machine
Uses traditional perm rods or rollers to create curlsUses special heated rods or rollers and a digital perm machine to create curls
Tends to result in tighter, more uniform curlsCan create more natural-looking, loose curls or waves
Requires longer processing time and can be more damaging to hairHas a shorter processing time and is generally considered less damaging
May require more maintenance and styling to maintain the desired lookMay require less maintenance and styling

It’s important to consult with a professional stylist to determine which type of perm is right for your hair type and desired outcome.

Types of Perms

There are different types of perms, and each can create a unique look. 

Here are some of the most common types of perms:

  • Beach wave perm: This type of perm creates loose natural-looking waves. The curls are typically more extensive and more relaxed than those created by other perm types.
  • Body wave perm: This type creates soft, gentle waves that add volume and texture to the hair. As in body wave, the curls are typically larger, making them a good choice for those with longer hair.
  • Spiral perm: This type of perm creates tight, springy curls that wrap around the entire length of the hair. 
  • Stack perm: It creates tight, defined curls layered on each other. This style is famous for short hair.
Types of perm

Should I Get a Perm?

Should I get a perm? It is one of the common question. Well, the decision to get a perm is depends on your personal preferences and the condition of your hair. While perms can add volume and texture to your hair, they involve a chemical process that can cause damage if not performed carefully.

There are a few things to know before getting a perm. Consult with a professional hairdresser for hair evaluation and recommendations. Proper care, including using recommended products and avoiding harsh treatments, is essential for maintaining permed hair.

How to Prepare Your Hair for a Perm?

Before getting a perm, it’s important to prepare your hair properly to ensure that the perm takes well and doesn’t damage your hair. Here are some tips on preparing your hair for a perm:

  1. Don’t wash your hair for at least 24 hours before your perm appointment. It will help to protect your scalp and reduce the risk of chemical burns.
  2. Avoid using styling products or conditioners on your hair for 24 hours before your perm appointment, as these can interfere with the perm solution.
  3. If you have any cuts or abrasions on your scalp, it’s best to wait until they have healed before getting a perm, as the chemicals in the perm solution can be painful on broken skin.
  4. If you have color-treated hair, it’s important to let your hairdresser know before your perm appointment, as the chemicals in the perm solution can interact with the color and cause it to fade or change.
  5. Ensure your hair is in good condition before getting a perm. If your hair is damaged or weakened, it may not be able to withstand the perm process.

By following these simple steps, you can help to ensure that your hair is ready for a perm and that the perm takes well without causing damage.

How Much Does a Perm Cost? 

The cost of a perm can vary widely depending on where you live, the type of perm you get, and the salon you’re going to. On average, you can expect to pay anywhere from $30 to $150 for short hair, $60 to $200 for medium hair and $80 to $400 for long hair..

It’s important to keep in mind that a cheaper perm may not be as high quality as an expensive one. Although it may seem appealing to opt for the most inexpensive choice, selecting a higher-quality perm could prove to be a wise investment in the long haul. By decreasing the possibility of hair damage, you could potentially save money over time.

How Long Does a Perm Take? 

The length of time it takes to get a perm can vary depending on the type of perm you get and the length and thickness of your hair. On average, you can expect the perm process to take around 1-5 hours.

During the perm process, your stylist will apply a chemical solution to your hair and then wrap it around perm rods or rollers. The solution will need to sit on your hair for a certain time to allow the chemical bonds in your hair to be broken down and restructured. Your stylist will then rinse out the solution and apply a neutralizing solution to help set the curls or waves.

Common Mistakes While Getting a Perm

Getting a perm is a chemical process that can damage your hair if not done properly. Here are some of the most common mistakes people make when getting a perm:

  • Using the wrong size perm rods: Using rods that are too small can result in tight, kinky curls while using rods that are too large can result in loose, limp curls.
  • Not preparing the hair properly: It’s important to ensure that your hair is in good condition before getting a perm. This means avoiding harsh chemicals and treatments and deep-conditioning your hair regularly.
  • Not following the instructions carefully: Whether you’re using a home perm kit or visiting a professional hairdresser, it’s important to follow the instructions carefully to ensure the best results.

Can You Perm Bleached Hair? 

Can I perm bleached hair? One of the most common questions related to hair perming. A simple answer is, yes, you can bleach your hair but you need to take some extra precautions to ensure that your hair doesn’t get too damaged in the process.

Bleaching your hair can be a fun way to try out new colors and styles, but it can also cause damage to your hair. If you’ve bleached your hair, you can still get a perm. 

When you bleach your hair, it strips away the natural oils and proteins that keep it healthy and strong. This means that your hair is more susceptible to damage from chemicals like those used in perms. 

To help minimize the damage, it’s necessary to give your hair a break between the bleach and the perm. Wait at least a week or two before getting a perm to allow your hair to recover.

It’s also crucial to choose the right type of perm solution for bleached hair. A mild or acid perm solution is usually the best option for bleached hair because it is less harsh and won’t damage your hair as much. Your stylist can recommend the best type of perm solution for your hair.

What is Straight Perm? 

While most perms are designed to add curl or wave to your hair, there are also straight perms available for those who want to tame their curls or frizz. These work by breaking down the protein bonds in your hair that gives it its shape and then restructuring them in a straighter configuration.

What is Straight Perm

Perming straight hair can be a good option for those who want to simplify their hair routine or who are tired of dealing with frizz and flyaways. However, it’s essential to note that straight perms can be just as damaging to your hair as regular perms. If you’re considering them, talk to your stylist first about the potential risks and how to minimize the damage.

Recommended Routine for Permed Hair

  1. Wash Your Hair 

Permed hair can become dry and brittle if washed too frequently, so it’s important to limit washing to every 2-3 days. Use a gentle shampoo and conditioner and avoid scrubbing the scalp too vigorously.

  1. Use a Wide-Tooth Comb

After washing your hair, use a wide-tooth comb to detangle it gently. Avoid using a brush, as this can cause breakage and damage to permed hair.

  1. Apply a Deep Conditioning Treatment 

Once a week, apply a deep conditioning treatment to your hair and leave it on for at least 15 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and style as usual.

  1. Avoid Heat Styling

Permed hair is sensitive to heat, so it’s best to avoid using heat styling tools like flat irons and curling irons. Instead, let your hair air dry or use a diffuser attachment on your blow dryer.

  1. Protect Your Hair at Night

Use a silk or satin pillowcase to reduce friction and prevent your hair from getting tangled while you sleep. You can also wrap your hair in a silk scarf to protect it.

Can I Wash My Hair After Perm?

It’s recommended to wait at least 48 hours after getting a perm before washing your hair to allow the curls to set. When you wash the hair after perm, be sure to use your stylist’s recommended shampoo for perms and conditioner specifically designed for permed hair to help maintain the curls’ shape and prevent damage.

Perms for Different Hair Types

As people can have different types of hair therefore, you should consider your hair type before getting a perm.

Curly Hair 

If you already have curly hair, a perm may not be necessary or even desirable, as it can result in an overly curly or frizzy look. However, if you have loose curls and want to enhance them, spiral perm can help create a more defined and uniform curl pattern.

Fine Hair

Perms can be tricky for fine hair, as it can be more fragile and prone to damage. A body wave perm with larger rods can add volume and body to fine hair without overly stressing the hair strands.

Thick Hair

Thick hair can handle more robust perm solutions and larger rods, resulting in more defined curls. However, be careful not to over-process the hair, which can result in damage and breakage.

Home Perm Kits

Home perm kits can be a convenient and cost-effective way to get a perm without having to visit a salon. However, they come with their own set of challenges and risks. Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re considering a home perm kit:

  • The instructions that come with the kit are essential to follow precisely. Failure to do so can result in uneven curls, damaged hair, or even injury.
  • Make sure you choose a kit that is appropriate for your hair type and texture. Kits designed for coarse hair may be too harsh for fine hair, and vice versa.
  • It’s essential to monitor the perm process carefully and not leave the solution on for too long. Over-processing can result in damage and breakage.
  • If you’re uncertain about using a home perm kit or had some bad experiences in the past, it’s better to seek the advice of a professional hairdresser.

Perm Rod Sizes and Curl Results

The perm rods’ size can greatly impact the final curl result. Understanding the different perm rod sizes and their corresponding curl results can help you achieve your desired look.

  • Small perm rods (approximately 1/4 inch in diameter) create tight, defined curls similar to those achieved with a curling iron. They are best suited for short hair or creating spiral curls in longer hair.
  • Medium perm rods (approximately 1/2 inch in diameter) create looser curls ideal for adding volume and bounce to medium-length hair. You can use them to create tighter curls in longer hair.
  • Large perm rods (approximately 3/4 inch in diameter) create loose, beachy waves perfect for long hair. 
Perm Rods

Here are some brief steps for how to use perm rods.

  • Start with clean, damp hair.
  • Section your hair.
  • Apply the perm solution.
  • Roll your hair onto the perm rods, securing them in place.
  • Leave the perm rods in your hair for the amount of time specified in the instructions.
  • Rinse out the perm solution and remove the rods.
  • Apply the neutralizer and rinse again.
  • Style your hair as desired.

The Role of Hairdressers in the Perm Process

While home perm kits can be a convenient option, many people prefer to visit a hairdresser to get a perm. Here’s why:

  • Expertise 

Hairdressers have the experience and training to assess your hair type and texture and determine the best perm solution and rod size for your hair. They can also monitor the perm process carefully to ensure the best results.

  • Professional Products 

They use professional-grade products that are generally of higher quality and less damaging to the hair than those found in home perm kits.

  • Customization 

They can tailor a perm to your specific needs and preferences, such as creating a tighter or looser curl pattern or adding volume to certain areas.

  • Less Risk of Damage 

While there is always a risk of damage with perms, a hairdresser can help minimize this risk by using proper techniques and closely monitoring the process.

Perms for Men

Perms aren’t just for women. Men can also benefit from a perm to add volume, texture, and movement to their hair. There are several popular perm styles for men, including the beachy surfer look, the classic curly perm, and the modern textured perm.

If you’re considering getting a perm as a man, it’s important to talk to your stylist about the suitable options for your hair type and desired style. 

Perms for Men

Once you have your perm, it’s important to take proper care of it to maintain the style. This includes using products specifically designed for permed hair, avoiding excessive heat styling, and getting regular trims to prevent split ends.

Tips for Maintaining Your Permed Hair

Once you’ve got your new perm, there are a few things you can do to maintain the style and keep your hair looking healthy:

  • Use products specifically designed for permed hair, such as shampoo, conditioner, and styling products. These products will help to keep your curls defined, moisturized, and frizz-free.
  • Avoid heat-styling tools, such as blow dryers, flat irons, and curling irons. Heat can damage your hair and cause your curls to lose shape and bounce.
  • Get regular trims to keep your hair healthy and prevent split ends. Trimming your hair every 6-8 weeks will help to maintain the shape of your curls and prevent them from looking limp and lifeless.
  • Sleep on a silk or satin pillowcase to help prevent frizz and breakage. Cotton pillowcases can cause friction and damage to your curls, while silk or satin pillowcases are much gentler on your hair.
  • Don’t wash your hair too frequently. Overwashing can strip your hair of its natural oils, leaving your curls dry and frizzy. Aim to wash your hair every 2-3 days, and use a dry shampoo in between washes if needed.

Removing a Perm

If you decide to reverse perm to straighten hair, or if your perm has grown out and you want to remove it, there are a few methods you can use.

One option is to have your hair cut short and wait for the perm to grow out. This can take several months, but it’s a natural way to remove the perm without damaging your hair.

Another option is to have your hair professionally relaxed or straightened. This involves using chemicals to break down the protein bonds in your hair, which will cause it to become straight. However, this process can be damaging to your hair, so it’s essential to have it done by a professional and to take proper care of your hair afterwards.

Lastly, you can use a perm-removing product at home. These products work by breaking down the protein bonds in your hair, allowing you to comb out the curls. However, these products can also be damaging to your hair, so it’s important to follow the instructions carefully and to use a deep conditioning treatment.

Final Thoughts

A perm can be a suitable way to add volume, texture, and movement to your hair. Whether you have straight hair that needs a little extra body or curly hair that needs some extra definition, there’s a perm style for you.

Before getting a perm, it’s important to do your research and talk to your hair stylist to ensure that you’re choosing the right type of perm for your hair type. With proper care and maintenance, your perm can last for several months and give you the beautiful, bouncy curls you’ve always wanted.