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How Do I Choose the Best Hair Perm?

By Amanda R. Bell
Updated May 17, 2024
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To choose the best hair perm for you, first determine if your locks are healthy enough, cut properly, and the correct texture to handle the chemical process and achieve your desired look. Then, decide what type of style you want, whether it be soft waves or tight curls, and put together a collection of several different photographs of similar hairstyles. Make an appointment for a consultation at a reputable salon with a stylist specializing in perms, and, if both you and the stylist agree on whether you can achieve your desired look, make an appointment for a hair perm.

While a perm, a chemical process that creates varying types of curls in a person’s hair, can give you volume, movement, and silky curls, not all hair types will take well to one. In general, if your locks are color-treated or heavily bleached, the perm will likely do more damage than good. If you have especially dry hair, the chemicals used in a hair perm can remove even more moisture, resulting in brittle, frizzy locks. Typically, if your hair has not been chemically processed, including coloring and bleaching, for at least six months and is in relatively good condition, you will likely be able to achieve good results with a perm.

The manner in which your hair is cut, and how much hair you have, will also determine what the best hair perm will be for you. If you have very choppy, short layers, you may want to opt for a softer, wavy perm rather than tight curls, as the latter can give your hair a very round or triangular shape. For those with thin hair, it can be difficult to obtain the look that you want with a perm. In many cases, you may have to choose a tighter style than you actually want, as your hair will likely lose the tightness shortly after the process.

If you believe that you are a good candidate for a perm, gather several different pictures of the type of curl you want. These can be from magazines, found on the internet, or, if you have had a perm previously, a photo of you with the style. Putting together a collection of photos will help you to better describe to your stylist the type of look for which you desire.

Contact a salon and request a consultation with a person who specializes in or regularly does perms. If the salon that you usually go to does not have anyone on staff with this experience, you may want to go elsewhere. Getting a hair perm from a stylist who does not regularly do them, no matter how talented he or she may be in other areas of styling, could result in a style that you do not want.

At your consultation, show your pictures to the stylist and discuss with him or her your hair type and how much maintenance you are willing to put into your hair. Request to see the different sizes of rods that the salon has, and talk with the stylist about which one he or she recommends for the style that you want. If you feel comfortable with the person and the salon, set up an appointment to get a hair perm.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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