How Long Does a Perm Take?

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We all want what we haven’t got… it’s human nature! So, if you have curly hair, no doubt you have spent lots of time, money and energy using a straightening iron to make your hair sleek and straight.

And if you have straight hair, you probably also have the desire for a curly top.

Perms have been making a comeback of late, giving off vibes of Olivia Newton John in Grease and 80s synth pop bands like the Bangles. Want big hair? Then you need to care to make sure it’s done properly.

So, how long does a perm take, and what does having one done involve? It depends several factors, and will take anywhere from one to five hours.

Below, we explain it all and do a deep dive into the permanent waves!


How Long Does a Perm Take?

On average, getting a perm will take anywhere from one to three hours to complete, although this depends on your hair type and length, and the size of the perm rods being used. If you have long hair below your shoulders, for example, it could be up to five hours before you can rock your locks.

Of course, the longer your hair, the more the perm will cost, as well.

On average, getting a perm will take anywhere from one to three hours to complete, although this depends on your hair type and length, and the size of the perm rods being used. If you have long hair below your shoulders, for example, it could be up to five hours before you can rock your locks.

A perm is not to be confused with a relaxer, which many also call perms. The main difference is that a relaxer is generally used on afro hair to relax the curl, while a perm is used on straight hair to provide a wave or curl pattern.

You should be aware that perms are well known to cause damage to the hair, because they destroys the natural structure of the protein bonds in your hair strands. And this is a permanent thing, so your hair will not go back to its original style.

You will have to wait for your roots to grow out for your natural locks to come back.

The chemical process of a perm comes in four different formulas, so this can also add to the confusion as to how long a perm might take on your hair. The four types of perms available are called acid, alkaline, exothermic and sensitive.

The chemical process of a perm comes in four different formulas, so this can also add to the confusion as to how long a perm might take on your hair.

Now we’ll take a closer look at them.


So What’s Your Perm Type?

Perm Before and After

Now let’s take a look at the different types of perm solutions that can be used to create your curls. Remember, the post-perm hair care regime is a bit different than normal, and you shouldn’t wet your hair for at least 48 hours after your perm.

Acid

With an acid perm, heat is used to activate the chemical process. It is the preferred type of perm to use if your hair has already been chemically treated or is dry and damaged, because it is gentler than  alkaline and exothermic perms.

The problem with this, though, is that the resulting curls are usually not as tight. But if you’re after gentle waves, then this is the perm for you.

Alkaline

Also called cold perms, no heat is needed for this type of perm. The chemicals used will activate on their own. However, it can be damaging to hair that’s been chemically processed previously, including coloring.

For the tightest curls, this is the perm you want, but only if your hair is already in good condition.

For the tightest curls, this is the perm you want, but only if your hair is already in good condition.

Exothermic

Again, this type of perm doesn’t need heat, but that’s because the chemical ingredients heat up on their own as they activate. Depending on the size of the perming rods used, it will produce either tight curls or looser-defined

waves. But be careful, because this chemical process is usually considered to be the most damaging to hair when compared to the other perm types. So your hair needs to be very healthy to begin with.

Sensitive

People who have sensitive scalps should definitely use this type of perm, because it has been specially formulated to be less irritating to the scalp.

This makes this perm a gentler and more comfortable experience for your hair.


Tight or Loose?

So now that you know what type of perm is best for your hair, it’s time to decide what shape you want your permanent curls to look like. This comes down to the size of perm rods that you use.

Using larger perm rods to create bigger curls or loose waves won’t take as much time to do, while creating tighter curls with smaller perm rods could cost you over an hour — and give you aching arms in the process! So asking a friend for help might be a good idea.

Perm Rods In Process

Jumbo!

For luscious loose waves, you’ll want to use jumbo perming rods , which will mainly add more body to hair that looks limp and feels lifeless. Jumbo rods range in size from 3/4 to 1.5 inches.

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For luscious loose waves, you’ll want to use jumbo perming rods, which will mainly add more body to hair that looks limp and feels lifeless.

Livin Large

Large perming rods will also create large curls and waves if that’s what you desire. This size of rods are best suited to be used by people who have longer hair. The size of large perming rods are 11/16-inch.

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Medium

Defined waves and curls are created with medium perming rods, which come in a 9/16-inch size. They work best with medium to shoulder length hair, although they can also be used for other hair lengths if this is the look that you’re after.

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Tiny

Tiny perming rods are designed to create the tightest curls, and come in sizes ranging from 1/8 to 3/8 inches. They mainly work for people with shorter hair, but even if your hair is short, the perming process will take the longest if you use these size of rods.

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Spiral Rods

And then there are spiral rods, which is what you’ll need to use if you want corkscrew curls. Spiral rods come in a variety of sizes, with the smallest producing the tightest corkscrew curls.

However, using the smallest corkscrew perming rods will take you the longest to do.

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Final Curl

Your perm will definitely cause some degree of permanent damage to your hair, because of the chemicals used in the process. Your hair will also act differently to how you’re used to, which means you’ll have to switch up your normal hair care regime to accommodate your new style. Wash your hair before your perm

This means you will need to prepare your hair for the best health by using extra moisture or a protein shampoo to keep your locks looking full and shiny, which will add bounce to their overall appearance.

How long does a perm take? Typically several hours, depending on the rod size and hair length!

You now know the answer, and can look forward to getting your curl on!

Written by Kayla Young

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