Hair Perms – Everything You Need to Know

HK Vitals

Medically Reviewed By Dr. Aarti Nehra

Hair perms definitely look fabulous. But there’s a lot more behind the scenes. The hair is exposed to a hefty dose of chemicals, and it requires some serious after-care to prevent the hair from harmful side effects. In this blog, we will discuss what is perm hair and the entire process of how to perm hair and the best ways to care for it afterward. 

What is Perm Hair?

What’s your natural hair texture? The spectrum includes straight hair, naturally wavy to tight-coiled. Perming is a hair treatment that allows you to change the texture of the hair. It involves using certain chemicals on the hair that react with the keratin protein in the hair, breaking the existing hair bonds and pushing them to hold a new shape. 

Yes, hair perms come in a range of variations. Depending upon how closely or loosely they are wrapped together, hair perms have an entire world to themselves. 

  • Looking for small, tightly held, and uniform curls from root to end? Go in for the spiral hair perms.
  • Use the body wave texture to create a wavy pattern. It helps create loose, soft curls to enhance the face look.
  • If you need to highlight specific areas of the hair, spot perms help do the trick. They also help create a curly and bouncy look. 
  • Have short hair? Pin curls can help create volume within the hair. 
  • Want to include different styles into one? The multi-textured hair perms can help you create a complete look. 

How Does a Perm Treatment Work?

A perm treatment can last for a few hours, depending on how long your hair is. The process involves a two-stage chemical process. In the first stage, the chemicals react with the hair’s protein to break the existing hair bonds.

Ammonium thioglycolate is the most commonly used chemical in perms. However, people with thin and fragile hair are often treated with a milder perm treatment chemical known as glyceryl mono thioglycolate. 

Once the hair bonds break, the hair stylist will closely wrap the hair around a styling rod. How loose or tight your curls will be will depend upon the thickness of the styling rod. This allows the bonds to restructure into curls. 

While hair perming treatment is often referred to as a ‘permanent’ treatment, the hair starts to get back to its original shape when the new roots grow in. For people with short hair, the curls typically last for 3-4 months. However, for people with long hair, the results can last for up to 8 months. 

What are the Potential Side Effects of Hair Perms?

If done correctly, hair perms are a style to stay. Incorrect application of the perming chemicals can lead to skin irritation. After-care is equally important as chances of hair loss, hair breakage, and scarring alopecia are high. Moreover, hair perms are not recommended for children under 13 years. 

After Care of Hair Perms

To keep your curls beautiful for a long time, a proper after-care routine is a must. The important instructions include:

  • Do not touch or wash your hair in the initial 48 hours after receiving the perm treatment. 
  • Use soft water for hair wash as the chlorine in water damages the hair.
  • Avoid heat styling your hair.
  • Do not use alcohol-based hair products.
  • Moisturize your hair regularly for a shiny and healthy look.
  • Wear a silk cap while sleeping to protect the hair from matting.


Hair perms look beautiful. From the subtle waves to closely coiled ringlets, the options are far too many. While the curls give a carefree vibe and give a low-maintenance feel, the reality is exactly the opposite. The chemicals used in the hair perm treatment wreak havoc on the hair and, therefore require immense after-care to prevent the hair from getting dry and brittle. Also, hair loss is a common concern after hair perm treatment. 

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