19 Different Types Of Perms Explained


Perms are a form of chemical treatment that can make your hair curly or wavy. It is the most popular hair treatment in the United States and Canada. 

Perms were first used during the mid-20th century, becoming the center of attraction for women and men. Perms are nothing but an acronym for “Permanent Hairstyle.” It is why they are meant to be permanent – they change the shape of the hair permanently. Also, perms can drastically affect your hair’s health and appearance, so you must get a perm from a professional and licensed hair salon.

Let’s learn more about the different types of perms and their effects on hair.

What Is A Perm?

A perm is simply a chemical treatment for your hair. It is an action that affects the structure of your hair strand, and it can be used to make your hair curly, straight (at the top), or wavy. It changes hair structure by breaking and reforming the bonds in your hair. 

Traditionally, perms are a process in which the hairstylist wraps a roller around your hair, and the chemical solutions are applied directly to your hair stand. This chemical will break its texture and make it straighten, or it can be used to break the bonds of your hair to make it curly. But, now there are many perms to choose from depending on your preference. 

Some new types are being made for different hair textures, such as those that change the density of curls in the hair. The result is a chemically straightened or curlier version of your natural hair. Besides, perms are also used for ethnic hair. 

Some say that perms are a new way to modify the texture of your hair. Perms can create an extra bounce to your hair, making it silky, curly, and radiant.

What Process Is Involved In The Perm?

Perms affect your hair from within by changing the shape of your hair strand. During the perming process, the hair structure goes through three different phases. 

  • Softening

Once the process begins, the hair is first softened by applying a chemical solution. The perm location swells and fills the hair shaft with a liquid compound. It softens the hair and penetrates through it. 

  • Molding

Next, your hair strands are molded into the type of Perm selected. The perm lotion deposits hydrogen, which forms bonds with your hair and helps to change the texture. Perming rod devices are used to set the shape of your hair. The rods are wrapped around the hair, and a perming solution is heated to steam. 

  • Fixing 

The third stage involves fixing the shape of your hair with heat. The shaped hair is heated to a high temperature and cooled slowly. It makes your hair stay in its newly shaped state. It is an important stage of the perming process because it fixes the shape of your hair and sets it permanently. 

Once complete, the hair is washed, a neutralizing treatment is applied, and then the hair is dried and conditioned. The neutralizer removes the perming solution from your hair and adds oxygen molecules to the hair shaft. Some people also use a neutralizer treatment after each Perm.

Is Perming Safe, Or Can You Get Any Side Effects?

Perming is a safe process and provides an excellent bounce, texture, and look to your hair. The chemicals applied in the process of perming, if not appropriately handled by the professional or not rinsed out thoroughly, can leave your hair brittle and prone to breaking. 

Yet, the following are the commonly experienced side effects of perming:

  • Breaking hair: It is the most common side effect of perming. It can lead to breakage on a microscopic level because your hair will be more fragile after perming.
  • Drying: The process involves using a chemical solution, so your hair will be more prone to dryness and brittleness after perming. You may need to use moisturizing shampoos and conditioners to provide a healthy balance of oils and moisture in your hair.
  • Damaged hair: Perming can damage your hair if the chemicals are applied improperly and if they stay in your hair too long.
  • Hair discoloration: The chemicals applied during perming may react with the natural pigments in your hair, causing it to become discolored or to change color.

Can We Color Permed Hair?

Yes, you can color permed hair. Yet, you should note that the process of perming can be harmful to colored hair and vice-versa because chemical solutions applied to your hair can interact with your dyed hair strands and cause them to become discolored or damaged. 

Moreover, perming and color involve chemical solutions, which means double chemical exposure. You should consult your hair colorist before choosing to perm and dye your hair simultaneously. But, if you are careful and choose the right stylist, you will be able to maintain the color in your permed hair.

Different Types Of Perms For Women

Professionals generally do perms in salons to alter your hair’s natural curl pattern. Perms are done differently based on your hair type and the type of look you want. Moreover, there are two different perming treatments, namely, 

  • Hot Perm (Digital Perm.)
  • Cold Perm (Traditional and classic Perm.)

Cold Vs. Hot Perm

  • Hot perms

The hot perming process uses an acidic solution and heat to reform your tresses. Firstly, your hair is exposed to this solution for about 15 to 20 minutes, which is applied in a saturating process. 

This solution breaks down the disulfide bonds, making it easy to mold hair into the desired shape. Then, the heated rods are applied and put on your hair for an hour or so. The heat helps set the protein structures into the intended shape.

 Afterward, the rods are removed, and the hair is washed with a neutralizing product. The hair is then dried and finalized.

  • Cold perms

Cold perms are traditional or classic and use an alkaline solution. The process starts with your hair stylist saturating your hair strands with the alkaline solution, wrap tightly into rollers anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the curl pattern you want. 

The longer you leave the rollers on your hair, the larger the curl. The cold perm does not rely on heat but uses an alkaline solution to break down the hair’s natural structure. Eventually, hair is washed with a neutralizing shampoo and set with a neutralizer.

The above-mentioned is a brief run-down of cold and hot perms. But which type of perm should you choose for your perm? Here are some things that you should take into account when selecting the best type of treatment for your hair. 

  • You’ll get better results with a hot perm if you have thin or fine hair because it seals the cuticle. However, a cold perm will work best if your hair is thick.
  • A hot perm is excellent for people who want looser curls because it has more moisture to help set curls and waves to place.
  • If you want your hair to last longer, go with the cold perm because it is gentler and less damaging on your tresses.
  • If you want your hair to look shiny and flawless, then splurge on the hot perm because it helps gives your hair definition and style and makes it sleek in appearance.
  • A cold perm is excellent for people who want more volume in their hair because it gives your hair a fuller look.
  • Spiral Perm 

Spiral perms are defined by their spiral-like shape, hence the name. The spiral shape is accentuated with each cuticle meeting in the center of the hair shaft, increasing its size. They can work on most hair types, including fine and thick strands, with loose to tight spiral curls. 

It is created using a perm rod with a cone at the end, with the perm solution applied to the end. It causes your hair to curl as it dries, creating more density and floppiness in the hair. Spiral Perm typically lasts about 3 to 4 months, depending on your hair type and cuticle condition. 

Additionally, it requires maintenance every one to two months. Females with straight to wavy hair who want a significant change in their appearance can go for spiral perms.

  • Body wave Perm 

Body wave perms are also called S-waves. The S-wave perm is a perm that has a multitude of spiral curls in one place, also called a ringlet curl. It isn’t firm enough to be curly, but it is not just straight strands. 

The waves vary in size and shape from the head down to the ends of the hair, which is why it looks like an S-wave. Body wave Perm has been very popular recently and makes a significant change for thinning roots. 

You can find this Perm in your local salon or apply it yourself. Usually, body wave perms are around six to eight weeks, depending on your hair type. Larger rollers and low levels of perming solution create this type of curl. Also, this type of Perm can be shiny or matte, depending on your preference.

  • Beach wave Perm

Beach wave perms are essentially the same as body wave perms, which incorporate multiple spirals. But, these waves are much more pronounced and can be pretty significant. These waves appear on top of your original curl pattern and often resemble a woofy curl or a kink. 

This type of perm is very gentle on hair and is perfect for thicker hair types. Beach waves require a lot of curls and a large number of rollers to form. Beach wave perms typically last six to eight weeks, depending on your hair type and cuticle condition. Besides, these types of waves are suitable for thin to thin-medium hair.

  • Classic Up-Do permed Hair

Classic up-do perms are much like spiral perms, except that the curls are much smaller, and the wave pattern is tighter. These perms last about three months, depending on your hair type. They are gentle on hair and are popular with thin to thin-medium hair. The technique is similar to spiral perms, but curls are tighter and much smaller.

  • Stack Perm

Stack perms is a hot perm that stacks many curls together in layers toward the end. This type of Perm is excellent for people who want volume and density in their hair. Stack perm leaves your hair straightened at the top and curled at the bottom, giving your hair a complete look. 

This look is perfect for thin to thin-medium hair. Since most of the hair is straight, this Perm is best for people with straight to wavy hair. Stack perms last seven to nine weeks, depending on the amount of curl and your hair type. 

Also, the technique is relatively mild and can be less damaging on your tresses than other types of perms.

  • Multi-textured Perm

Multi-textured perms are hot perm that uses various rollers and solutions to create your desired curl pattern. The process is achieved when the rollers are left on the hair for an extended period until it dries. 

Multi-textured perms typically last around ten to twelve weeks, depending on your hair type, texture, and cuticle condition. This type of perm is excellent for fine to very fine hair with a natural texture. 

Your stylist will typically use eight to ten rollers and three to four types of perming solutions for your hair. Afterward, your stylist will coat your strands with a neutralizer to eliminate any residual curl.

  • Digital Perm 

Digital perms are a revolutionary way of performing perms without damage. Digital perms use a digital computer to determine the exact temperature and amount of solution needed for your hair. It also measures how hot or cold each section of your hair is to help reach the perfect temperature for your strands. 

Consequently, digital perms are gentler on your hair and can last up to six months. Since the digital Perm is gentler, it is recommended for thinner hair types. This type of perm doesn’t require a neutralizer, so you can use heated styling tools after leaving the salon. Furthermore, it has been proven to treat split ends and make your hair more manageable.

  • Straight perm

A straight Perm is a hot perm that straightens your hair, usually with chemicals. This type of perm is often done on a client’s hair rather than on the head and is not recommended for people with very fine or thin hair. 

The process is not permanent, but it does straighten your hair without damaging your cuticle. Straight Perm is more familiar with shorter hair and can sometimes be reversed using special straightening creams. Moreover, some straight perms require a relaxer, which can leave your hair damaged if not done correctly.

  • Spot Perm or Partial Perm 

Spot or Partial perms are performed on only the portion of hair that needs a change rather than the entire head. They are typically done using a straightener or curling iron to curl your hair first before applying the perm. 

It ensures your natural curl pattern remains intact while giving a more bouncy look to the perm-treated areas. Also, this perm requires regular maintenance sessions every one to two months. People with finer and thinner hair benefit from spot perms. 

  • Root Perm

Root perms are hot Perm that only works on your hair’s roots. It is usually used with a regular perm to soften and lose the curls on your top layers. It is done by applying the perming solution to your roots, then wrapping them around with rollers and leaving them in for 30 minutes. 

The rollers are removed and unwrapped when the solution begins to set. Also, this type of Perm is suitable for people with thin hair.

  • Voluminizing Perm 

Volumizing perms are hot perm that boosts volume in your hair. This type of perm is ideal for delicate and kinky hair because it increases the amount of curl. Your stylist will typically use several rollers and three or four types of perming solutions. 

During this process, you will receive a volumizing conditioner to give your hair more bounce. Voluminizing perms last several weeks, depending on your hair type and cuticle condition.

  • Pin-Up Perm

Pin-up perms are hot Perm that creates small curls around the hairline and back of the head. This type of Perm is ideal for women with fine to thin hair and is best suited for shorter hairstyles. 

Pin-Up perm allows the stylist puts perm solution on the hairline, then pin it in place with a few bobby pins. Afterward, she will wrap your hair around a curling rod around your head. 

The curls will fall out after three to four hours. This type of perm is ideal for women with pin-straight hair and creates volume and height in your hair.

  • Reverse Perm

Reverse perms is a kind of perm that adds curls to your hair in the opposite direction of your natural curl. For example, if you usually have tight curls on bottom strands, your stylist will add loose curls on top strands. 

This type of perm is ideal for people with coarse, thick, or unruly hair. In addition, this technique doesn’t damage your hair and can be used on short hair at home.

  • Finger waves Perm

Finger waves perms are a controlled form of perming your hair that gives you soft and natural waves. It is considered an easy and safe way to curl your hair because it lasts longer than the other types of perms on this list. 

Also, this technique doesn’t require expensive products or special equipment, so it’s great for people with thin or fragile hair. The process involves using fingers to create subtle waves around your head. 

Finger waves are not suited for curly or straight hair because they don’t create enough hold to keep your style in place.

  • Pin Curl Perm

Pin curl perms are a form of perming your hair using small curlers joined by metal clips. These clips are called pin curls, creating a curl formation around the base of your hair. The process is easy, and your stylist will use a mixture of rollers, clips, and solutions to curl your hair. 

This type of perm is common for women with long or curly hair and can be reversed with special straightening creams.

  • Modern Style Perm

Modern style perms are advanced versions of hot perm in which your stylist uses an extension cord to curl your hair. This technique takes less time than regular perms, but your curls are harder to tame. 

Modern style perm also allows you to use a variety of rollers and extensions before and after the perm. It is suitable for short hair and can be used on both men and women.

  • Short and Bouncy Perm

Short and bouncy perms are one of the hottest perms that become shorter and more body-friendly after a few weeks. They are all different shapes, but an example is a ball or half-circle curl design with both sides partially straightened. 

This type of perm is best for thin hair because it will create a subtle, natural look. Besides, a short and bouncy perm is an easy way to add curl to your newly-cut hair before you go to the salon. 

The process involved rolling or curling your hair, then adding a perm solution to the curls. Afterward, apply a hair cream that gives your hair extra volume and bounce. This type of perm will last several weeks and can be reversed using special creams once the perms dry out.

  • Loose Waves Perm

Loose waves perm is a type best suited for coarse and unruly hair. The technique involves using rollers, combs and pins to create curls around your head. To achieve this look, you will need to apply a lot of roller sets and use more than one type of solution. 

A good way to use loose wave perms is two rolls with each solution in each direction. This type of perm lasts three to four weeks and can be reversed using special straightening creams once it begins to lose shape.

  • Gentle wavy Perm 

Gentle wavy perms are a type of Perm in which you will end up with very soft waves traveling down the hairline. This perm is best for people with medium to thick hair and is ideal for women with straight or wavy hair. 

Your stylist will roll your hair from the back to the front, then take a time-out to remove all rollers, pins, combs, and products from your head. Afterward, the stylist will blow dry it using a blow dryer on low heat. Gentle wavy perms can last up to three weeks, depending on your hair type and solution.

What Are The Post Perm Care Tips?

After getting a perm, you may end up with loose curls. Before re-styling your hair, you need to take care of these tips.

  • Remember that perm steam works excellent for softening your hair. If your hairstylist uses perm steam to soften the curls set by the perm, you can use a brush to detangle them and scalp massage to help the process gently.
  • Also, try not to wash your hair too often during the first few days after having perms. It is because it might lead to more breakage and split ends.
  • After washing, conditioning, and detangling your hair, apply a leave-in conditioner to your hair. Leave it on until it soaks in, and rinse off with lukewarm water for best results.
  • Opt for a hair spa; your supply will last longer. After having perms, it is crucial to moisturize your hair daily to keep it healthy. Well-conditioned hair will last longer and won’t easily break or split as easily.
  • For best results, use a soft-bristle brush when detangling your hair after washing and conditioning it. You can also use a wide tooth comb for the same purpose.

How Much Does Perm Cost?

Perms cost around $40 to $200, but this is only an average estimate based on current market rates. You should check with your stylist first to know the prices of their services. Visit the salon and ask about the costs for perms, accessories, and products specific to your needs. 

Also, the prices vary depending on where you are going. For example, the average price in New York City is $60, while it is only $40 in California. Furthermore, salon prices may include the cost of perm solution, rollers, clips, and other products installed to style your hair before and after the Perm.

How Long Does Perm Last?

Perms last one to two months, depending on your hair’s health, lifestyle, and other factors. If you are careful with your hair, like not swimming in pools, or wearing hats and scarves daily, then perms can last longer than expected. 

Some other factors that affect perm life include how often you wash your hair (twice a week is ideal), the condition of your hair, and the quality of products used during the application process. Moreover, different types of perms have different life spans. The curlier your hair is, the longer your Perm will last.

Your Perm may last for a few weeks if you have straight hair. If you want to keep your curls for long, consult your stylist regarding the maintenance required after a perm application. If not appropriately maintained, perms may not last as long. 


Going for perms is the best option if you want to get beautiful, long, luxurious curls to complement your face. Perms are safe and easy to maintain but can only last as long as you take care of your hair effectively. 

It is a good idea to take professional advice from an expert on how you can keep your curls well-maintained by using unique products and services at the salon. Different perm techniques and styles are available for men and women. Hence, don’t hesitate to try perms because healthy shining hair starts with perms.

Related Posts