perms-with-colored-hairIf you’re unsure about whether or not perms with colored hair is a good idea- then you’ve come to the right place!

It can be done, but I don’t recommend it because multiple chemical processes change the structure of the hair in a negative way. You won’t like how your hair feels, and you’ll be so ready to get your pre-perm hair back!

You should schedule a consultation with an experienced hairstylist before you make an appointment to get a perm(if you’re set on getting it done and the inevitable damage means nothing to you).

There are perm formulas that are more mild and meant for color-treated hair, but most salons do not carry them because they are a lot more expensive and the “good” ones are often only available through a distributor.

Remember- just because a perm formula is mild or advertised as “safe” for color-treated hair does not mean that your hair will be free from damage. Your hair may still be hard to comb or manage when you try to style it.

Perms with Colored Hair

Here’s a great Q&A reference from a reader:

I was reading something you had on perms and I just wanted to know what you would recommend.

I colored my hair myself about 3 months ago and I have talked to a couple other people about this but I was wondering what your opinion would be.

I was wondering if you thought it would be a good idea for me to get a perm because I know you aren’t supposed to get a perm if you’ve colored your hair and especially with box color, but I figured since it was about 3 months ago it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.


Dear Ceara,

Sometimes I feel that people ask for perms because they are just unhappy with their hair all around. So, a perm seems like a great idea! Here are some things to consider…

  • What type of cut do you have?
  • Is your hair thin or thick?
  • Does your stylist give you a truly good cut that’s right for you? You’ll know because you can’t get it to “look right”.

With the right cut and a quality job you would love your hair in its natural texture. If you just want curls, that’s okay too!

Try hot rollers, or velcro rollers if your hair is already damaged.

I wouldn’t recommend it just to be safe. It may not break off, but it will feel horrible.

The hair feels different than it would from lightener damage or excessive exposure to heat. When wet your hair would be nearly impossible to comb and when dry it would seem lifeless or lack vibrancy & tone.

You may want to read:

Should I Get A Perm?

Should I Get A Perm If I’m Coloring My Hair?


Back to Advice Column

About The Author


Professional Hairstylist | American Board Certified Haircolorist | Makeup Artist | Beauty Blogger

23 Responses to Perms with Colored Hair

  1. Is a body wave better than a perm for thin hair?

    • Erika says:


      It really depends on the look you’re going for, the length of your hair, etc. Essentially, a body wave is a perm- it’s just a different type.

  2. Terry says:

    Hello, I really need advice. The second week of June I got a perm. My cut has grown out and the grey is really showing. I want to color my hair. The perm is still holding strong. My hair is very fine. Reading past questions, I am now concerned regarding the decision.

    Thank you for your help.


    • Erika says:

      It really depends, but I would wait or just use a demi-permanent or a glaze in the meantime.

      If you’d like for me to go more in depth- please send me a photo of your have via the Contact Page!

  3. Daniella Hall says:

    I have hair that’s been dyed black for over 3 years and before that I had a perm done and it went horribly I cried so much over it and she had put the perm on my hair after I had bleached hair so it turned out awful. But I still keep thinking about curly hair and I want black curly hair but I’m afraid to perm it again.

    • Erika says:

      I suggest learning how to use a curling wand! Perms are a lot, and they never turn out with the type of curl that most people are looking for.

  4. Samantha Boulier says:

    Hi! I have a perm and I love it! I also recently used Brad Mondo’s Super Red semiperminant hair dye on it, which also looks so good! However, I have no idea what shampoo to use. Should I go with a moisturizing one or a color-safe shampoo?
    Also, sorry to comment on a super old post!

  5. Angela P says:

    I made the mistake of perming my hair, what a mess. I colored it prior and still color it… for some reason the permed part of my hair doesn’t seem to retain the permanent color… so my hair looks kind of two toned. I would think the damages hair would color darker but it’s actually the opposite… the permed part fades faster… I use Med brown. Should I go ahead and just color the lower half of my hair to try to even it out when it gets more faded. Last time I touched up roots I ran dye through a left it for a while… it was better but faded fast… hope this makes sense. Thanks

  6. Iris says:

    Sorry to resurrect this old post, I’ve been thinking about a perm for a very long time. I usually wait six months or so to do anything too drastic with my hair. I have straight thin hair. I’ve dyed and bleached my hair. It’s been two years since the bleach, but I dye my hair every six months. My hair is still very healthy. I dyed it a month ago, so it’ll be a very long time till I get the perm, is it a good idea to get a perm?

  7. Helen Burnett says:

    Can you perm your hair if you have celephane

  8. georgia says:

    can I use normal perm on color treated hair?

    • Erika says:

      It depends on the brand and what kind of perm it is. Some perms are safe for color-treated hair, but I typically do not recommend it. I would use a very mild perm on color-treated hair and only if it is not highlighted and/or over-processed.

  9. Martha F. says:

    I need a very quick advice for several meetings i have to attend, for which i want to feel confident and nice. I am in the late 7o, had last december perms and coloured my hair 2 weeks ago with “Healthy Look Cream gloss-product” I have short hair.

    I appreciate a good advice if i shall have perms done now or get rather a styling-cut, until my haircolour is more washed out/

    Thanks for responding!

  10. […] Don’t get a perm if you have color-treated hair. […]

  11. Destiny says:

    I am really wanting to get a perm too but I dyed my hair a little over 3 months ago also. I don’t use heating products unless it’s a special occasion like a holiday and then I straighten it a little bit. Before my last color it had been over a year since I colored my hair and over a year before that so my hair doesn’t feel damaged at all to me really (other than the typical split ends that I haven’t had trimmed yet) but I feel it everyday so of course it would feel normal to me. My hair is easy to comb when wet although I don’t comb it much when it’s wet because I’ve heard that is damaging to the roots as well. I shampoo and condition every other day but I never have to deep condition. What do you think? Would I be safe to get a perm?

    • Erika says:

      I don’t suggest it if you had your hair colored(especially permanent). A perm would change the feeling and elasticity of your hair in a way that’s indescribable…it’s unlike any other kind of damage and you would regret it so much.

      Have you thought about other ways to get curls? Do you think you really want a perm, or are you just unhappy with your hair? Check out these Perm Alternatives and give it another 3 months. If you still want the perm in March/April…then go for it…but make sure they use something mild for best results. Good luck, and thanks for reading!

  12. Monica says:

    I really don’t like my naturally straight and thin-ish hair, so I’ve been thinking about getting a perm maybe in the next month. But here is the thing, I just dyed my hair a week ago. My hair doesn’t seem too damaged I try not to use heat and I’m starting to come up with ways to make my hair as healthy as possible before I consider getting a perm. I’ve dyed my hair many times and my natural hair is dark brown and I bleached my hair once before. I really want nice curly volumized hair without having to use an iron every day. I do plan on getting a big hair cut to get rid of as much damaged hair as possible before I get a perm. Do you think I could still get a perm if I make a big cut?

    • Erika says:

      I don’t think you should get a perm. Have you tried other ways of styling your hair or a new cut? There are lots of things you can do to make your hair more full, but most people just don’t know where to start. Check out my post on Perm Alternatives for some great suggestions for styling your hair without getting a perm.

      You might want to try using a texturing spray along with some thickening products. You don’t have to curl your hair very much when you use the right products. I usually just curl a few big chunks of my hair, spray it, then loosen it with my fingers. It looks so much better than when I spend time curling my hair(as long as you like the messy natural look.

  13. […] 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 […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.