When it comes to hair, we want choices. Few of us are born with the hair texture we truly want. With many types of perms available, we can find the best hairstyle to suit us.
A perm, otherwise known as a permanent wave, is a chemical solution used to change the shape and appearance of hair. Different types of perms will create different curl and wave patterns in the hair. The effects of perms are typically long-lasting and will stay in hair until it is grown out or cut off.
Here we’ll explore the wild world of different perm options and applications.
What Are the Different Types of Perms You Can Get?
There are many different types of perms you can get to achieve the curl or wave pattern best suited for your desired look. The two basic methods for perming hair are: cold perms and hot perms.
A cold perm is the traditional method for creating a permanent wave or curl in hair. Hair is soaked in an alkaline ammonium thioglycollate solution that breaks down the hair’s disulfide bonds. This enables the reshaping of the hair structure when it is set around perm rods.
Cold perms look curlier when they are wet than they do when they are dry. When dry, cold permed hair looks more loose and wavy. Use styling products to achieve tighter curls and waves with a cold perm.
Hot perms, or digital perms, are a newer method for changing the hair’s wave or curl pattern. A hot perm uses digitally-controlled temperature-regulated perm rods rolled with hair. An acid chemical solution is applied to the rolled hair that breaks disulfide bonds.
Hot perms appear less curly or wavy when wet. When dried, the result of a hot perm is more voluminous. The results of a hot perm are more evident when the hair is dry.
Hot perms recondition the hair, leaving it noticeably shinier and smoother than it was before the perm. One downside to a hot perm is that it cannot be used on the roots. The heated perm rods are not safe to leave on the scalp for the duration of the perm.
Curl Pattern Types
Determining which shape you want your perm to take is a matter of considering which curl patterns you want.
C-curls are subtle perms given to the ends of hair to turn and curl the hair inward. C-curl perms are hot perms created using ceramic perm rods.
These perms can help to reduce frizz and add volume.
Another hot perm curl type is the J-curl perm. In this perm application, solution is applied to the ends of hair to create a small outward curl that resembles the letter “J.”
The pin-curl perm is a cold perm popularized by Old Hollywood starlets of yesteryear. The pin-curl creates a distinct wave pattern typically in the front portion of hair.
Pin-curls are often found on shorter hair lengths, but can also work for longer hair types.
This is the most recognized perm curl pattern. The shape of the curl looks like the letter S.
From tight curls to loose waves, the size of these perm curls differ.
Popular Types of Perms
There are many types of perms to choose from. Here’s our quick guide to different types of perms available to transform your hair.
Body Perm or Wave Perm
A body perm or wave perm is designed to add texture and volume to the hair. A body perm will produce a loose wave or curl pattern and create volume in straight or thin hair.
As a general rule, the larger the perm rods, the looser the curl. Body perms are given with large perm rods.
Some hairstyles look better with a variety of curl and wave patterns, especially longer styles.
To achieve a naturally curly look, go with the multi-textured perm.
A partial perm curls specified sections of the hair while keeping the straight hair textured mixed within the hairstyle.
A partial perm will add body and volume to hair.
The pin-curl perm is a temporary way to add curl and wave to hair. The pin-curl perm ditches the perm rods and chemicals and is gone with your next hair wash.
The technique is to apply styling cream or gel to hair in the areas you want pin curls. Working in small sections, set the hair into tiny loose buns affixed with bobby pins. Apply heat from a hairdryer to set the curls.
Spiral perms are tightly curled perms. Typically, long perm rods are used to achieve the springy and small curl pattern.
The curls created from a spiral perm will dramatically shorten the appearance of hair; it works best on hair that is shoulder length or longer.
Spot perms are applied to a single region of the hair. A spot perm is given to achieve certain hairstyles like a bouncy bob or lob. There is a lot of flexibility with a spot perm.
You and your stylist can decide how large you want the curl or wave pattern. You can also determine which section of your hair will change in texture and which will remain straight.
A stack perm avoids the roots of hair and is only applied to the ends. The curl or wave pattern for stack perms ranges from loose to tighter waves and curls.
Getting a stack perm on long hair will create a bigger, bolder look.
Different from other types of perms on this list, the straight perm is used to remove waves and curls from hair.
There are different methods, both cold and hot, used to achieve straighter hair.
A root perm is a cold perm given to the roots of hair to create volume in flat hair.
A volumizing perm creates big hair with loose waves and curls rather than tightly coiled curves.
This all-over perm is a great option for those who want to enliven their naturally limp tresses.
How Much Do Perms Usually Cost?
For every perm there is a price. There are several factors that play into perm prices. These factors include:
- Length of hair to perm
- Desired perm type and its process
- Geographical location
- Stylist rates
Long-hair perms will cost more than short-hair perms. Perms that only target a portion of your hair will cost less than a full-head perm application. The city or region where you get your perm will influence how much the perm will cost. Some cities are more expensive by default.
Last but not least, your stylist’s rates for a perm are a big factor in how much a perm will cost. As the name suggests, a perm is a permanent chemical application to change the structure of your hair. It is worth finding an experienced and knowledgeable stylist to get your perm from. Stylists with perm application experience are more expensive than novices in the perm trade.
The only accurate way to determine how much the perm you want will cost is to book a consultation with a stylist to explore your hair and the types of perms available to you.
How Do Perms Affect Your Hair?
Different types of perms impact your hair in different ways. All types of perms require a chemical solution to be put on your hair, and chemicals are not good for the hair. Perms can severely dehydrate the hair making it coarse, brittle, and easily breakable. It’s not recommended to get perms too frequently, to avoid damaging hair.
The classic cold perm seems to be harsher on hair. Hot perms are said to leave the hair looking shiny and smooth after treatment. The chemicals in a hot perm will still weaken the hair, but this might be counteracted by altering unruly textures.
Before undergoing a perm, open up about your hair history with your stylist. Let your stylist know if you have any color in your hair and if you have had any previous chemical treatments. A qualified stylist will assess the condition of your hair to figure out if a perm will work with the condition of your hair. If your hair is already damaged, a perm may not be a good choice for you.
No perm is good for the hair, but you can make choices to protect your hair after a perm. Wash your permed hair in lukewarm to warm water instead of hot water. The hot water is damaging to hair. Never use a brush or tight comb on your permed hair. Instead, use a wide-toothed comb on hair when it is wet. Don’t use hair elastics on your hair; they cause hair breakage.
Gone are the days where we must settle for the hair we were born with. There are many types of perms that will help you create a long-lasting, red-carpet-ready look.