Pic above Geoffrey Herberg, QLD, Australia. Tight cork screw curls are an easy wash and leave perm solution (all be it with the right finishing products).

Perm can even create mere root lift or soft curl in shorter styles but this will only last about 8 weeks. Image from Rebecca Woloszek as part of her AHFAward entry 2007.

Pic above Cataldos, Canberra. I would describe this as a large spiral type wave, difficult to maintain as often looks straight and flat at the roots in this length of hair. Imaginative styling like this helps to keep it looking fresh.

Pic above from Luppino's Hairdressing, Sydney. This type of bend or soft wave is not really a perm at all but a very styled look. Don't expect to wash a leave your hair to do this!

Perming Hair: Get in the know about how to straighten or curl your hair

If you did not come through our home page your search has only found a small proportion of our vast and useful data base of real information, facts and how-to instructions.

For more use this link.


Welcome to our perming section. The term "perm" comes from the word "permanent" because your hairdresser is basically changing the structure of your hair to make it permanently into a new shape. The reality of a "permanent" service is, that as your hair grows so your perm grows out. A perm will also soften or lose some of its shape over time, but rarely will it go back to what it originally was.

What a perm can do:

Perms can be used to create a bend, curl or even to loosen curl for those people who have naturally tight curls. The image of the eighties "tight perm" or the "granny/woolly head" look is hopefully disappearing forever. You can now get a "perm" that will do nothing more than give your hair some volume, direct it in a certain way or prevent it from making a parting where you don't want one.

The type of curl effect you can get varies depending on what the hair is molded around during the perming process. Normally this is a curler but some hairdressers will use anything from a pipe cleaner for a really tight curl, to a "bendy" stick for a spiral effect. Yes, we are about to suggest a consultation again as it's all down to the skill of the hairdresser and the suitability of your hair.

Be prepared to have your hair cut when it is permed. This is good for two reasons; out of condition ends can frizz and look dry, doing your new look no justice or be in too poor a condition to perm. Secondly the shape of cut that worked for straighter hair will not work for curly hair in achieving the effect you want.

It is important to get your hairdresser to show you the effect your perm will have on the length of your hair if this concerns you. Hair that has a curl to it can appear much shorter than straight hair of the same length.

What a perm won't do

The main thing to know is that a perm is not the answer to never having to style your hair again. Don't assume you will wake up every morning with a perfect hairdo just because you've had a perm. In fact the opposite can be true as it is like having someone else's hair and you will need to learn a whole new set of skills to be able to look after it. Perms are really a good foundation to build the style you want to create. Many of the looks that you may think are permed are actually blow-dried, tonged or set on curlers and will only last until the hair is next shampooed.

Some types of hair will perm exceptionally easily and last a long time:

  • Already curly hair
  • Asian hair
  • Coarse hair

Some types of hair won't hold a perm at all or will react badly to the chemicals in perm lotion, you would be best advised not to perm your hair in these circumstances:

  • If your hair is treated with henna colours that are metallic based: This is not all henna colour products just those that are usually brought or imported from India and Asia. If at all concerned get your hairdresser to do a "strand test" to insure your hair is OK.
  • If your hair is treated with spray leave-in lighteners that lighten your hair when in the sun. The result of perming your hair if you have used this type of product can be that your hair and you part company! Again if at all concerned mention it to your hairdresser and get a "test strand".
  • Silky smooth or glassy fine hair has such a strong outer surface that a perm lasts only a short period of time. I have often heard hairdressers say "lets perm it really curly so that when it drops it will be what you want"! Don't go there it's not worth it and you will never seem to get exactly what you want. Stay straight is our advice.


Some other factors that can affect how successful a perm can be:

  • Taking blood pressure tablets or having had a general anesthetic recently can cause a perm to loosen or drop out. Consult a trichologist in this case as they can use certain treatments to help prevent this problem.
  • During the first 2 months of pregnancy a perm can also not be as successful as normal due to chemical changes in the body.
  • If you are still in the growing stage of life you may have such healthy hair that it won't take a perm on the first attempt. The second normally works better as the hair has already had a chemical process making it more successful.

Perms and how they effect your hair.

The resulting condition of your hair following a perm is dependent upon the condition it was in before hand. If your hair is in bad or poor condition a perm will only make the situation worse. If your hair is in good condition your hair may feel a little drier but no damage should take place unless done by someone who is not an expert.

Permed hair is chemically treated however and will require appropriate shampoos and conditioners to maintain its condition at home. Ask your hairdresser for advice or consult our diagnosis section for more information.

Perm and coloured hair combined, is it a good idea?

We are often asked whether it is O.K. to perm and colour at the same time. There is no definitive answer to this question as it is all down to the condition of your hair. Neither process will harm your hair on its own, but when two chemical processes are repeated on the same hair over each other, damage can occur.

Here are some points to consider before taking the plunge:

  • It is often best to use a semi-permanent colour with the perm rather than a permanent one to maintain condition.
  • Perms will fade your coloured hair and a semi-permanent colour can be done on the same day as your perm to refresh your look, whereas you have to wait a week between a perm and applying a permanent colour.
  • If you have highlights, the lights themselves will often look dry, detracting from your look. There are special perms out there for highlighted hair. Ask your hairdresser about this option.

Always remember that large amounts of time spent swimming or in the sun can be regarded as a chemical process on your hair and it is definitely not a good idea to then combine with both a perm and colour. Check out products to use in the sun to help protect your hair.

Had enough of that perm? How to get rid of it without tears.

If you are not keen on cutting out what is left behind leaving you with "no" hair then try:

  • Blow-drying the remaining perm straight using a round natural bristle brush and a special non-chemical straightening product to help it last.
  • Blow-drying the new hair curly to blend the two types of hair until your hair is long enough to cut out the perm without leaving you bald. If you have a bit of a wave it may be possible to scrunch your hair to blend the old perm into the new growth. Check out scrunch drying for curl for the technique and tips on how to do this.
  • Get a "perm" that is not a perm but simply a "bend" in the hair. Once again this will blend the new and old hair whilst you grow your perm out. There are several specialised perming systems that can provide you with enough bend to lift the roots of your hair and give that bit of volume. These only work for about 6 to 8 weeks and are designed to be so gentle that they slowly revert back to your natural look. Not always suitable if you have highly coloured hair as the effects of lots of chemical processes over others can be damaging as we have said. As with any professional processes, get a free consultation from your hairdresser to see if this is an option for you.

Here are a couple of tips from one of our top industry contributors, Sharon Blain of "The Art of Hair in Sydney Australia:

"When your hair is permanently waved, its structure is altered, which makes it slightly more vulnerable if not properly cared for, follow these simple guidelines to keep your wave looking beautiful and your hair in the best possible condition:

  • Do not wash your hair for 48 hours after you have a perm.
  • When washing your hair, only use professionally recommended products to maintain the curl and condition of your hair. Products that are not specifically designed for permed hair may dry out or over stress your wave.
  • When blow-drying your hair, use a low heat setting, and fit an air diffuser to your hair dryer. This will help avoid drying out your hair.
  • When styling your hair, use a vent brush and styling products specifically designed for permed hair. These products help protect your hair and make it easier to manage."



© VirtualHairCare

Go Back To Previous Page Back to Salon Services Main