Should you colour your hair before or after a perm?

Updated April 17, 2017

It is possible to have both coloured and permed hair. In certain cases, they can be achieved back to back. A perm will most definitely alter your hair colour. Depending on the condition of your hair, it is always best to receive a colour service after a permanent wave.


You can have the best of both worlds. It is attainable to have volume and curl along with maintaining your hair colour.

Time frame

A semi-permanent colour may be applied immediately after a permanent wave has been completed. This is due to the fact that there is no ammonia and minimal peroxide in the colour so it won't create more dryness or relax the curl. A permanent colour will need to be applied at least 48 hours after the permanent wave. Permanent colour contains ammonia and has a higher percentage of peroxide and could diminish the results of freshly permed hair.


After receiving a perm, there is a 48 hour waiting period before you can shampoo your hair. There is the misconception that since you cannot shampoo your hair, then you cannot colour your hair on the same day. A semi-permanent colour can be used to freshen your hair colour and can be rinsed thoroughly without the need for shampoo.


It is possible to bleach permed hair, but some damage is inevitable. Perming your hair after receiving a hair colour service is not recommended. The second step of a permanent wave is the neutraliser. It contains hydrogen peroxide and it will lift the colour, making it appear faded.

Expert insight

Permanent waves can be extremely drying to the hair. The cuticle of the hair is wide open, which means that the colour may become too dark or uneven. It is best to condition the hair with a protein treatment (not a moisturising treatment) to strengthen and equalise the porosity of the hair. This helps to close the cuticle, which will ensure proper colour results.

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About the Author

Kathleen Powell has been a beauty professional for eighteen years and began contributing articles to a salon website in 2005. Kathleen writes for and has a beauty blog. She has completed writing courses at Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, Maryland and is currently enrolled with The Longridge Writer's Group in West Redding, Connecticut.