#1. First, what is a perm?
A perm (short for permanent hairstyle) uses chemicals to change the texture of your hair. The process involves breaking down the molecular bonds in each strand and resetting them to your desired pattern, so you can transform straight hair into curls or waves. Whether you’re getting a hot or a cold perm, rods and rollers will be applied to your strands to get the job done.
#2. What is the difference between a hot and a cold perm?
Both treatments change the texture of your hair, but the processes are different. A cold perm uses an alkaline solution (such as ammonium thioglycolate) which is applied to dry hair before it is wrapped around rods, resulting in tighter, more defined curls. This option tends to be more common because it is cheaper and faster than heat perms. A hot perm uses an acidic solution (like glyceryl monothioglycolate) which is applied to wet hair, but instead your strands are wrapped around heated rods. This process creates larger, looser curls and is often less damaging due to the solution used. A heat perm also tends to produce more natural-looking results and is a good choice for fine or damaged strands.
#3. What type of perm should I get?
The type of perm you should get depends on a few factors: your hair length and texture, whether you want to focus on your entire head or specific sections, and what you’re trying to achieve with the perm. (ie are you looking to create more volume, bounce, curls, waves, or all of the above?) You’ll also want to consider how long you want to rock your perm, as some last for two months, while others can last up to a year .
Lest you start feeling overwhelmed, we’ll walk you through a guide to the 11 different types of perms you can get below.
#4 Spiral Perm
This classic perm gives tight, corkscrew-shaped curls. It is typically preferred by people with shoulder length and longer hair as the style can make your locks look shorter. The technique uses a strong chemical solution and your hair is wrapped vertically around rods to achieve a spiral pattern. Since the spiral binder is very time-consuming to make (it can take about two to five hours), it requires the most maintenance out of the bunch. However, the results can last about six months.
#5 Beach Wave Perm
You don’t have to take a trip to the beach to get massive waves. A beach wave perm gives the soft, tousled look (only it lasts up to four months as opposed to one day). If you have straight hair and need a volume boost, the stylist will apply foam rollers and a chemical solution to create the loose, bouncy effect.
#6 Body Wave Perm
Do you have a hard time keeping a curl? Similar to the beach wave perm, this treatment creates bigger, looser waves. The body wave perm uses large rollers (or rods) to add volume and shape to super straight strands. It is one of the most popular perms because you get a wave with a natural look and it is quite low maintenance as the results last between three to five months.
#7 Digital Perm
The binder is one of the newer styles you can get. Trademarked in Japan in 2007, the digital binder has since found its way to other parts of the world. The longest-lasting of the bunch, with results lasting up to a year, this high-tech perm uses gentler chemicals that repair and mend hair (unlike many traditional perms that rely on harsh chemicals). Strands are wrapped around temperature-controlled rods to create loose waves and generally more voluminous locks. The biggest downside? The process takes several hours to complete and is among the most expensive perms on the list.
#8 Pin Curl Perm
While anyone can enjoy this retro perm, people with shorter hair tend to benefit the most from the tighter, bouncier ringlets it creates. Instead of rods or rollers, bobby pins and clips are used to shape the curls. Another reason to consider this perm: Fewer and less harsh chemicals are used and it only takes about 20 minutes, so you can spend less time in the salon. The results last for about three to six months.
#9 Spot Perm
Spot perm (also known as the partial perm) targets a specific part of your hair. Whether you just want to add volume to your head or need help covering an area that is thinning, chemicals and rods are used only in that area. This type of perm can also be useful for curly girls who want to create a more uniform look all around. Since you are only perming part of your hair, touch-ups are recommended every few weeks.
#10 Root Perm
Another partial permanent, this one only deals with the roots. To add lift, the solution is applied two to four inches away from the scalp before wrapping the section around permanent rods. Similar to the spot perm, it’s a great treatment for anyone who wants more volume but doesn’t want to perm their entire mane. You’ll also need to get regular touch-ups to maintain the look.
#11 Stack Perm
This treatment joins the partial perm family and skips the roots and focuses on the middle of the hair and the ends of the hair to create the illusion of layers. To achieve the look, perm rods of different sizes are applied to different sections of your hair. As a result, you get more depth and dimension that lasts between four and five months.
#12 Multi-Textured Perm
This multi-textured style is similar to a stack perm in that it also offers a layered look, and a series of rods are used to create a combination of tight and loose curls throughout the mane that will last for months. It’s a great choice for medium and longer locks because it really allows you to show off the layers.
#13 Volumizing Perm
As the name suggests, this type of perm gives voluminous waves and is a great option for people with fine, flat hair. A series of rods are used to create loose curls and bounce throughout. While it uses the same strong chemical solutions as the spiral perm, it only lasts about six weeks and requires regular touch-ups to keep its shape.
#14 Straight Perm
This one is the complete opposite of the other types of perms on this list. Also known as “reverse perm”, a straight perm straightens naturally curly hair. This heat perm uses an alkaline solution to break down the bonds, but this time it stretches out the curly or wavy patterns in your hair. Along with the chemicals, a flat iron is used to straighten strands into a sleeker style. Although the treatment takes at least six hours to complete, the look lasts for three to six months.