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Perms with highlighted hair are not generally recommended.

I usually suggest that clients choose one or the other. Either you get highlights/color, or you keep your hair natural and get a perm.

I know…wavy, highlighted hair looks so pretty! There are other ways to get it, even though they may not be permanent.

I would rather have healthy hair, then regret doing too much to it because there’s no turning back.

Once the damage is done you just have to wait, or get a haircut.

Perms with Highlighted Hair

Here’s a recent Q&A from a reader followed by my response:


I have healthy highlighted hair and am wondering if i am OK to get a spiral perm , in your opinion of course, I would have a test patch done professionally first.


Age 63

Here’s my response:

Dear Linda,
I do not recommend perms on highlighted hair…even if it’s healthy. It’s not as bad as someone that colors their hair every month, but it’s hard for me to say “go for it” when I don’t know your natural level, highlighted level, and the type of lightener used.

It also depends on how your hair is highlighted. Does your stylist only retouch the new growth, or do they apply lightener from roots to ends? Most stylists do it the improper way because it is easier and faster (or because few have been properly trained).

Some salons carry a more mild perm that’s “safe” for color-treated hair. I suggest asking to see the perm kit because some stylists will tell you that a perm is safe, but it’s really just an alkaline perm(two main types are alkaline and acid). So…perms that are safe for color-treated hair may be alkaline, but there will be additional information on the kit about it being color safe.

If you’re not sure, then schedule a consultation with someone that regularly does perms. Some stylists will tell you that it’s fine, and others will say don’t do it. You may also want to read “Perm Alternatives” if you’re unsure about getting a perm!


You may also want to read:

Should I Get a Perm?

Should I Get a Perm if I’m Coloring My Hair?

Perms with Colored Hair

Perm Alternatives

About The Author


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

5 Responses to Perms with Highlighted Hair

  1. Felicia says:

    I typically use Just for Me kiddie perms and keep my hair curly as it is very difficult to put a comb through it. I am due a perm in May and later in the month or in June I would like to have get light blonde highlights. My hairspiration is Ciara (the singer)

    How much time should I wait between the perm and the highlights?

  2. Pauleana says:

    My hair is shoulder length and has been for awhile. I got my hair high lighted in september or October and I want my hair permed now… Should I just wait longer for all the color to be out?

  3. Christina says:

    I was given a perm by a professional that didn’t hold before my 72 hours was up; I then went to a Paul Mitchell school the next day and asked that another spiral perm be applied. The first perm wasn’t a spiral as asked. Three weeks later I had the Paul Mitchell school bleach my hair. Now after I shower or when styling it falls out heavily. I use leave in treatments but nothing seems to be working. I have the “bob cut,” should I wait for everything to grow out in order to get the nourishment again, or is there something else I can do?

    • Erika says:

      It sounds like your hair is really damaged….You can try the It’s a 10 Miracle Hair Mask. It’s much stronger than their leave-in products and will make your hair feel better than it does now. Good luck and don’t forget to lay off the heated tools for a while!

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