Alex Kingston – Doctor Who

Should I get a perm? That depends on many things, so take some time to read this before you decide whether you should get a perm or change your hair in another way that’s more suitable for you.

I decided to write a post about perms because I hear this question more often than you think, and from people who should not even be considering a perm!

I expect it from my “baby boomer” generation clients because they grew up with perms, as did their children.

Then there are those with very fine or thinner hair that would like a perm for body, great idea if your hair can handle it.


Everyone else that asks me about a perm is probably going through a hair crisis and it’s just another idea or way to change things up. I can always tell because that means you’ve tried everything else and you just throw your hands up and say, “Maybe I should get a perm.”. Trust me, it’s not always the best way to go!

I’m going to start out by giving you my basics! These are things that I make sure clients are aware of or that I look for during a consultation. If you’re still not sure if it’s right for you or not then keep reading for Perm Tidbits & Alternatives to Perms!


Should I get a perm?

1) Do not get a perm if you get your hair colored regularly with permanent hair color or box color.
Semi or demi-permanents can be okay depending on your hair color history. In any situation with coloring your hair make sure you go through a proper consultation with your stylist before taking the plunge!

It all depends on what type of chemicals your stylist has available to use on your hair and if it’s right for you. There are lots of less damaging options out now compared to the 80’s so it can be done with care!

Hopefully everyone already knows this, but PLEASE don’t attempt to perm your hair at home especially if it’s already colored! I know that people still perm at home so be careful because there’s no turning back :).


2) Do not get a perm if your hair is already damaged!
Perms are made possible with very strong chemicals (the smell should be a clue). Although they’ve come a long way in 25 years they are still not the most gentle option for your hair! If you’re not sure if you’ve got too much damage take this quizlet: How Damaged Is My Hair?. It will help you figure out if it’s time to lay off the chemicals and start deep conditioning!

As an alternative to getting a perm you can use velcro rollers or any other type that doesn’t require heat before use. Of course, you will need some extra time for getting ready but it sure beats creating more damage! When your hair is fried the most important things are to prevent damage and regain strength….curls are not top priority.

3) If you MUST perm your hair…make sure you have a thorough consultation with your stylist!
It’s our job to ask the right questions, but it’s also your job to recognize whether or not you feel that your stylist is being thorough! We are all different and come from a variety of training backgrounds. You may get someone that isn’t familiar with perms and hopefully you can sense that.

I know the basics and I can roll a darn good perm but I’m not the fastest and I still do a double check to make sure we’re using the right solution. If you get someone that’s been doing it for 20+ years you’ll know and you’ll feel comfortable with them.

For example: If I have a client that I’m unsure about I will let them know that I want a second opinion and grab a more experienced stylist with perms for the consultation. Remember, you can always ask for a second opinion yourself if you feel uncomfortable about the service!


4) Do not get a perm the same day as your color service!
Even though I still see this happening in some salons, I just don’t agree with it. It may have been done for years, and guess what?
Everyone’s hair looked fried, dyed, and laid to the side!

If you get a perm you want it to look beautiful and healthy, not dry and frizzy! There’s no doubt that if you get two chemical services in one day it will not turn out like you’d hoped.

Here’s a quick story…
I’ve been doing my grandma’s hair for a few years now and when I started her hair was a tangled mess! She’s not your average cotton ball head grandma, she’s hip, young, and wants to keep looking that way. Her previous salon was coloring & perming her hair on the same day every 3 months(insane!), and still coloring each month as well.

The first time I combed it I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing because it was impossible to round-brush and curl! Then I realized that she’s addicted to perms & hair color, and the salon just went ahead and did it to make those dollars.

It has taken me a long time to convince her that it’s not okay and the difference in her hair is amazing! We now do a gentle perm on her once before the summer….and MAYBE once in the winter(1-2 weeks after her color).  Her hair looks great, feels great, and is much more manageable!

So please remember, just because your stylist says, “Yea, let’s do it.”, doesn’t mean that it’s okay for your hair! They either don’t know what they are doing or thinking….cha-ching, double process=double dollars!


Perm Tidbits:

  • If a perm doesn’t take ALWAYS wait at least 1-2 weeks before attempting to get another perm! Have your stylist evaluate your hair first because it could be even longer! If you’re stylists insists on trying it again within a few days….just wait, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
  • If you perm & color in the same day it will turn out at least a shade lighter than you thought you were getting! Not to mention the damage….
  • Make sure to be COMPLETELY honest during your perm consultation! This means speaking up about home dye jobs, current medications, and even if you’re on your cycle! All of these are indicators of how much your hair will suffer or if the perm will even take!
  • The best hair types for perms with minimal damage risk are: Gray Hair, Coarse Hair, & Natural Hair!


Alternatives to Perms:

  • Use a curling or flat iron to create volume at the base.
  • Find another style that works with your hair texture. Just because you don’t like your hair texture with your current style doesn’t mean you won’t with a different cut! I talk about this more in Finding Your Perfect Style!
  • Click here for more Perm Alternatives!



 If you’re really looking for beachy waves….click here!

154 Responses to Should I Get A Perm?

  1. Cassie says:

    I’m getting a perm because the bottom half of my hair curls crazy great. Perfect loose spirally curls. Then the top of my hair has not much more than a body wave. I have thick hair. Rarely colored. Last time I colored was 9months ago if not more. I use a leave in conditioner (it’s a 10 keratin) my problem is I have PCOS and my hormones can at times be all over the spectrum. I have long hip length hair and would love your opinion. I just love my hair curly but as thick and long as it is it just takes forever to curl my entire head (just over an hour most days) I’ve tried sleep in curlers and other non chemical ways of curling but it just takes forever to put my hair into the devises. My hair holds curl awesome so at least when I do have time to curl it it stays in for 3 days. I’d love your opinion because I read the part about hormones effecting perms and now I’m scared. Thanks.

    • Erika says:

      I think that your hair is healthy enough for a perm and you sound like someone that would be very pleased with the outcome(make sure your hairstylist is experienced with perms as the type of perm solution, size of rods, how it’s wrapped, etc. are very important).

      The only sure way to time out your perm just right would be if your hormone fluctuations follow a pattern(or if there’s a way to test for it). I don’t know anything about the medical side….that’s JUST A GUESS….but I think you should just go for it anyways(not during your period).

      If you’ve never had a perm then there’s no way to know how your body will react. The worst thing that can happen is it won’t take(“falls out” after a few days). If that happens your stylist will probably offer to do it again. If your hair is healthy, the second perm won’t do a ton of damage(should be accompanied with a hair mask/treatment…we use Redken Chemistry Shots at my salon).

  2. Mo says:

    My hair is currently 4inches long, I am booked to have a perm in three months time. I’m hoping by then my hair will be 6inches long. I’m hoping it will look like this pic. What do you think.

    • Erika says:

      If you want your hair to grow faster…take vitamins daily and drink plenty of water! Biotin is excellent for your hair, skin, and nails.

      I need to see a photo of your hair before I can tell you if it will look like the picture you shared. Just send me a message, Facebook, or e-mail me from the contact page!

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Hi! I have very fine, thin hair. It is also very long. I tried tag rolls but the curl only lasted a couple of hours. Any suggestions on what product and type of curler would be more effective?

  4. Nikki says:

    Hi Erika, I’d like to tell you my hair type first. My hair lengthwise has been growing out for a year from a true pixie cut. It doesn’t grow fast so I presume it’s around 6″ longer now. It is fine, and thin in places like my front/crown due to a hormone issue. I also had chemotherapy 5 years ago, lost it, and it has come back. My hair grows out of my head straight, then turns wavy and in some places curly. The underside develops actual ringlets, but what you see from head-on is more wavy, ends flip up etc. Definitely not straight but I couldn’t say particularly curly, either. What I am looking for is a more consistent pattern of something. I don’t know if that means curls or waves. I read up above you said if you already can scrunch your hair, you may just need a better cut. Since it is growing out from a pixie, I had a ton of layers but maybe they are catching up to each other now. I wish to keep growing out my hair, but is there something I can have a stylist do to break up the layers a bit to make it easier to reslond to my scrunching it…while at the same time the overall goal is to have long hair? Does a perm sound appropriate for me? No dye in over a year. I have fine hair as I mentioned, but I always do a side part and I feel it needs to be broken up because my products aren’t creating the look I want anymore. Btw, I use mousse, if I blow-dry always a diffuser, and hairspray to finish. Thank you for any input.

    • Erika says:

      Hi Nikki!

      It sounds like you’re at an in-between stage with your hair. Is your hair as long as a chin-length bob or to your shoulders? If it’s still like a bob then you might want to give it a little more time. If your hair is short then it probably isn’t curling as much as it could with a longer length and the right cut.

      My hair is past my shoulders, but it is similar to yours in texture. I just scrunch my hair and blow dry it with a diffuser or let it dry in a towel. If I want to style my hair I use an iron to curl some big sections really quick, then loosen it up with my fingers. It’s just enough to enhance my natural wave.

      SO….if that’s enough curl for you then wait on the perm. If you want very curly hair then you should get the perm! I think your hair is healthy enough, but like always please schedule a consultation with a reputable stylist first!

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