Hair Perm Facts

Written by kathy mayse
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Hair Perm Facts
Perms add body, curl and control to many different hair types. (Image by, courtesy of Gordana Adamovic-Mladenovic)

Perms chemically alter hair in order to achieve wave, curl or body. While they are called permanent waves, perms are not permanent. They generally last three to four months before losing shape, but they last much longer than other methods of adding curl to hair, such as thermal styling and roller setting.


Permanent waves are desirable for many reasons. Perms add body and wave to lifeless, flat hair. They add control to wiry, coarse hair, and they shorten the length of time that it takes to style hair.

Rod Selection

The size of the curl achieved is a direct result of the rod size used during the perming process. Larger rods result in waves and body. Small rods help create true, looping curls.

Perm Selection

There are several different types of perms, including exothermic, alkaline and acid. Exothermic perms generate heat and are used for hair that is coarse and chemically resistant. Alkaline perms are used on fine hair that is hard to curl but easily damaged. Acid perms are used to create full-bodied curl on normal and colour-treated hair.

Chemical Process

Perms create curls by breaking down the natural bonds of the hair and restructuring them to mimic the shape of the rod used.


Perms should never be brushed or combed when dry. Proper care includes picking out curls when wet, applying styling product and allowing to air dry. A diffusing hair dryer can be used to speed up drying.

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