1. Style
Send to a Friend via Email
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

So, You Think You Want a Perm?

The Red Flags to Consider


So, You Think You Want a Perm?

Boomerang Perm

Photo © Kendra Aarhus

Don't go running for the hills just yet... perms are back. Long haired curly perms and body waves are springin' up all over the place! I'm sure you're thinking that yeah, it would be great to have beautiful body and curls, but we all remember the frizzy perms of the 1980's. How do you know if a perm will work for your hair?

Let's be honest, although perms have been greatly improved over the past 5-10 years, they are going to cause some damage to your hair. Not all damage is bad, but I'd like to discuss some red flags if you are thinking about perming your hair.

RED FLAG #1 - Highlighted Hair
If your hair is more than 30-40% highlighted, you may want to think twice before perming. In fact, if your hair is highlighted at all, you might want to think twice. Highlighting is damaging to your hair, so perming over-bleached hair that probably has some damage to the hair's cuticle will likely cause big time frizz. Plus, you'll have to touch up your highlights as you usually do, causing more potential damage. While frizz can be taken care of with product, it can also be a sign of serious breakage. So, think twice before perming your highlighted hair. Your hair stylist can help you decide if your hair has been too highlighted for a perm.

RED FLAG #2 - Dry Hair
Is your hair already dry, brittle, or frizzy? If so, a perm will definitely dry it out more. You may consider reconditioning treatments and/or daily treatments to get your hair in shape and moisturized before considering a perm. The bottom line is, if your hair is frizzy before a perm, it will be drier and frizzier after a perm.

RED FLAG #3 - Lots and Lots of Short Layers
All those short layers look great with a sassy straight style, but how will curls look with all those layers? Remember, curl equals volume, so if your layers hit around your ears and jawline, you'll get volume there. Maybe that's a good thing if you have a very narrow face, but perhaps your head will resemble a mushroom with too much volume at that part of your face. It's my advice to wait until after a perm to cut layers or grow them out a bit before you get a perm. Remember, curly hair requires a different cutting style than cutting straight hair.

RED FLAG #4 - Colored Hair
Although not as dangerous as perming highlighted hair, if your hair is colored, you may want to give more thought to a perm. It will be in your best interest to allow 2- 3 weeks before and after your perm to color your hair. Also, keep in mind that a perm will likely lighten your color. As I said, perming over colored hair is safer than perming over highlighted hair, but anytime your hair as been previously chemically treated, a perm may cause unwanted damage.

The Bottom Line
I think perms are great, but they are not for everyone. It's important to discuss your hair type, maintenance, and type of curl desired with your hair stylist prior to getting a perm. She will also be able to help you determine what type of perm solution, perm wrap, and cut will be best for your desired results. Please, under any circumstances, do not buy and attempt a home perm. Please.

Maintenance after the perm is also key to keeping a perm frizz free and keeping your hair healthy. The industry is full of hair products that have been formulated with permed hair in mind.

I strongly encourage you to look into getting a great perm. They can be a lot of fun and an easy way to have beautiful hair. The perm photos in this article showcase a boomerang perm wrap on uncolored and unhighlighted hair.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.