July 17, 2024


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Can a Perm Permanently Change Your Hair?

6 min read

There are tons of treatments that can be used to help change the way that your hair looks to suit your preferences. A perm is just one type of hair treatment that can dramatically transform your hair from straight to curly, or from curly to straight.

Can a Perm Change Your Hair Forever?

When it comes down to it, a perm can change your hair forever, but only the hair that was permed. A perm is not going to have any effect on the natural hair as it grows out. This means that you can permanently change the hair that is permed, but not the hair that grows out after.

 Perms are a great way to quickly change the hair that you have and to get the hair that you want. What is the process, how is it done, and what does it mean for the hair, and will it damage your hair? Keep reading to find out.

Does a Perm Change your Hair Forever?

A perm is only ever going to change the hair that is chemically treated during the perming process. If you get a perm, the hair that is going to be changed is only the treated hair, not the hair that is going to grow in, untreated, after the perm hair starts growing again. If you are concerned that your hair texture or pattern is going to be changed forever, the real issue is going to be that the hair that was treated is the only hair that will be changed.

The process of a perm is as follows:

  • The hair is rolled.
  • A chemical is applied to the hair that is called the perm lotion, this is the chemical that sets the curl if you are having your hair curled, or that helps to relax the curl if you are having it relaxed.
  • The next step is to let the hair set or to let it cure for the appropriate amount of time. The hair will need to set for a time anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes.
  • The perm lotion is then rinsed out, and a neutralizer is applied. The neutralizer helps to stop the perming lotion from continuing to perm.
  • The hair is then rinsed again, and the rollers are removed.
  • Your stylist may then style the hair, and you are going to be advised to keep it dry and to not touch or further style it for at least 24 hours so that the treatment can set.

This is a great option if you want something that is a bit more permanent in terms of styling. If you have curly hair, and you want it to be straight, a perm can give you straight hair that you do not have to do a ton of work to up keep. If you have straight hair, and you want it to be curled, a perm can give you curly hair that you have always wanted as well.

How to Care For Permed Hair

There are a few things that you can do to help keep your perm looking great and to help ensure that the treatment takes and lasts as long as possible.

  • Avoid washing for at least 24 hours after your perm
  • Do not style your hair for at least 24 hours after the treatment
  • Do not dye your hair after you have had it permed
  • Make sure to moisturize and hydrate the hair often, perm chemicals can be very drying
  • Avoid putting your hair up
  • Avoid using heat tools to style your hair

When it comes to caring for your hair that has been permed is to take the time to find a routine that is going to work for you. If you have curly hair that has been relaxed you do want to take the time to find a hair mask or a hydrating treatment that is going to help protect the hair and help to ensure that the perm treatment does not damage the hair.

Another thing to remember is that using heat tools and overly styling hair that has been chemically treated can lead to hair that is dried out, hair that is damaged, and it can affect how the treatment works. You want to avoid heat styling as it is going to reverse the effects of the perm which will be a waste of money and a waste of your time as well.

If you want to know more about how to care for your permed hair the right way, I highly encourage you to watch the below video!

How Does a Perm Affect Your Hair?

As terrible as it sounds, a perm works by damaging the hair follicle so that it cannot physically hold its natural shape. This means that the perm is going to change they way that that hair is shaped on a physical level so that it cannot go back to its original state. This is the main reason that it only affects the hair that has been chemically treated.

New growth is not going to be affected by the chemicals and is therefore not going to have the new structure that the hair that was treated has. When your perm has grown out or is starting to grow out, the new hair growth is going to go back to the natural pattern of your hair.

This process is less noticeable if you have straight hair and have had it permed to be curly than it is if you have curly hair and have had a perm to help relax the curl. Though a perm might wear off or lose its potency, it is never fully going to go away and the effects of it are never going to be fully reversed unless you have a hair cut and have that hair removed.

As the perm loses effectiveness, your hair might start to curl in some places if you have had it straightened, but the other areas may still remain straight. You might notice that your ends are dry and that they feel a bit crispy. You may notice breakage or split ends, and you may notice that the hair just does not feel as healthy as it might have once felt.

With hair that has been permed, you do have to be very careful in caring for it to ensure that there is not going to be any further damage to the hair over time. Perming your hair is going to damage it, there is no way to get around it. The key is to remember that you can still care for your hair and prevent further damage by choosing products that nourish your hair, by choosing treatments that are going to elongate the life of your perm, and by avoiding over processing your hair and not caring for it. 

You should not get a perm more than once every three to six months. The more times you perm your hair, the more damaged it is likely to become. If you have hair that was very damaged by a perm treatment, you should avoid perming it again, and you may have to have a hair cut to remove the very damaged pieces.

A reliable and knowledgeable hair stylist can help you figure out what your hair is going to respond to best, they can help you find the right treatment, and they can also help you find out how to care for your permed hair. Perms are great, you just have to be willing to do the work to care for them, you have to be willing to risk the potential damage, and you have to be willing to take the time to learn what works for your hair.


Though a perm is not going to alter new growth, it does change the hair that is treated, permanently, and though the effects may wear off or lessen, the hair is never going to be the same again.

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