Are Perms Bad For Your Hair?

Written by Arshiya Syeda

This season, going curly is more in trend than ever! Quite naturally, the ‘80s perms have taken the front row and are enjoying the limelight. And why not? With changing times, the upgraded “modern perms” allow you to choose from loose curls, wavy hair, ringlets, or even straight hair! Does that mean perms are not as damaging to your hair as before? Or, should you still be concerned about your hair? Read on to know if perming your hair can cause any damage and what you can do about it. Swipe up!

What Is A Perm?

Perming is a technique that alters your hair appearance. Perming usually refers to adding curly or wavy texture to your hair. However, modern perm techniques offer different curl patterns (including straight hair) to choose from. A professional hairstylist wraps fabric or sponge rods around your hair. The stylist then applies a solution to alter your hair structure. Another chemical solution is applied to the hair to set the curls. This is a simple process, but is it safe?

Are Perms Safe?

Perming exposes your hair to alcohol, boric acid, hydrogen peroxide, and ammonium thioglycolate. These chemicals open up the hair cuticles to make the hair-restructuring process easy and semi-permanent. This, in turn, can make your hair weak and affect hair health. However, perming is not as damaging to hair as bleaching.

Also, perming can be safer and less damaging if done by a professional keeping your hair type in mind. We will now see how perming affects different hair types.

Effects Of Perming On Different Hair Types

  • Colored Hair: Perming colored hair means double exposure to chemical treatments. It would be especially damaging if you have bleached hair. It is recommended you wait for at least a month before perming your colored hair. Your hair, otherwise, may look frizzy, dry, and undefined.
  • Highlighted Hair: Highlighted hair is always bleached to give your mane that extra dimension and lift. You also probably need to visit the salon more often to maintain the highlights. This would only expose your hair to more chemicals. Perming highlighted hair can cause further damage and make it dry, dull, and frizzy.
  • Dry Hair: Dry/damaged hair must first undergo rebonding treatments. You also can use coconut oil regularly to revive your hair. Perming dry hair will also cause further damage and even lead to hair fall.
  • Short Layered Hair: Those who have short hair with too many layers must talk to their stylist before perming their hair. Yes, curls look great on short hair; but short layered hair, when permed, may not suit all face shapes.
  • Virgin Hair: Perming virgin hair (hair that is not colored or processed) would cause the least damage. However, there still would be some damage. Hence, you must take good care of your hair after perming it. How? Find more about it in the next section.

How To Take Care Of Your Hair Post Perm?

  • Use a color-protectant shampoo and conditioner. These are better equipped to deal with frizzy, dry, and damaged hair. You can also buy products your stylist recommends. Though potentially expensive, they would be worth the money if you want to keep your hair protected and healthy.
  • Use argan oil. It is light and will not weigh your curls down. The oil also provides your hair with the required nutrition.
  • Use a thermo protectant. You may want to style your hair or use a blowdryer. Ensure you also use a thermo protectant to protect your hair from the heat. Also, do not use heating tools above 300o Fahrenheit.
  • Use products for curly hair. Using products that women with naturally curly hair use can add definition to your curls. These products will keep your hair hydrated, protected, bouncy, and shiny.
  • Use a wide-toothed comb. Curls get tangled easily. Use your fingers or a wide-toothed comb to separate the hair strands gently.

Should You Perm Your Hair?

The golden question – should you perm your hair? Well, is your hair bleached? Is it colored? Or is it dry and damaged? Talk to your hairstylist and take the call. If your hair is bleached or processed, wait it out. Also, you should be extra careful if you are pregnant. The chemicals can be harmful. Talk to a dermatologist before you perm your hair during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.


Bouncy curls or waves definitely add panache to your hairstyle. Perming is a good solution if you want to add volume and texture to your hair without using heating tools. It also allows you to choose any type of curl. However, practice caution. The use of chemicals can have damaging effects. You can also avoid perming bleached, colored, or dry hair to reduce any hair damage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to get a perm while pregnant?

It is better to avoid perming your hair during pregnancy. Chemicals used during perming that have an acidic pH can cause an itchy scalp. On the other hand, if they have an alkaline pH, they can weaken your hair.

How long does a perm last?

A perm can last for about 6 to 8 months, depending on your hair type and perm type (curly, wavy, coiled, etc.).

Are perms good for thin hair?

Perming thin hair can add hair volume. However, the chemicals used in the process can further weaken your hair and cause hair thinning and hair fall.

Will my perm get curlier after I wash my hair?

No, your perm will not get curlier after you wash your hair. Instead, it will take on a more natural shape and look natural.

Recommended Articles

Was this article helpful?
The following two tabs change content below.
Arshiya Syeda is an editor and certified counselor. Ever the lover of the written word, she served on the editorial boards of her school and college newsletters. Writing articles on hairstyles, hair care, and nutrition helped her combine her love for reading, writing, and research. As an editor, she helps her team members deliver polished and meticulously researched content. Arshiya is fluent in English, Urdu, and Hindi and aims to become a multilinguist by learning German and teaching herself American Sign Language (ASL).