Ultimate guide to different types of perms

Today’s advanced hairstyling techniques and tools have revolutionized perms, making it possible for anyone, regardless of hair type, to enjoy a variety of styles. From the trendy spiral perm to the relaxed beach wave perm and the voluminous body wave perm, more options are available than ever before. With the plethora of choices now at your fingertips, discover the perfect perm to suit your style and hair type. Explore the latest in perms and embrace the endless possibilities for your hair transformation.

We’ve meticulously gathered all the essential information about perms, covering their definition, functionality, duration, and answers to frequently asked questions to provide you with a comprehensive understanding.

What is a perm?

A perm, short for “permanent hairstyle,” is a popular hair styling technique that transforms your hair texture into lasting waves or curls. This process involves using chemicals and heat to alter your hair’s natural structure, effectively breaking the bonds that give your hair its natural texture, whether straight, wavy, or otherwise. Perms are a go-to option for those looking to change their look with long-lasting curls or waves, offering a dramatic transformation and adding volume to your hair. With a perm, you can enjoy a new, curly hairstyle without the daily hassle of curling irons or styling products.

Perms have been a popular hairstyle for over a century, continuously evolving with new variations introduced every few years. Today, the modern perm has made a fashionable comeback, thanks to hairstylists who have revitalized this once-dated style with innovative techniques. These advancements offer individuals a variety of options to customize their curls and waves, allowing for personalized shape and definition. With the latest perm techniques, people can enjoy a trendy and stylish look that suits their preferences perfectly.

How long does a perm last?

Perms typically last three to six months, although the duration can depend on factors such as the perm type and your hair length. Long hair poses more challenges for perming, and curls may become less defined as your hair grows longer. To preserve your perm’s appearance, consider scheduling regular trims every few months. This approach helps maintain the desired look and ensures your perm remains fresh and vibrant.

Taking care of your hair is crucial, so using products specifically designed for your hair type is essential. Opt for hair care products that match your needs to maintain healthy, beautiful hair.

How do perms work?

The perm process varies based on the chosen style, affecting the tools, chemicals, and techniques used. A spiral perm employs small rods and heat for tight curls, making it a popular choice for those seeking defined curls. On the other hand, a beach wave perm uses large, spongey rollers to achieve soft, loose waves, perfect for a more natural, relaxed look. The chemical solutions and the need for heat differ with each perm style, ensuring a tailored approach to achieving your desired hairstyle. Understanding these differences can help you decide the best perm type for your hair goals.

How long does a perm take?

Expect your salon visit for a perm to last at least two hours, but remember that the duration can vary depending on the perm type you choose. For example, straight perms often require almost a full day at the salon! Knowing the appointment length is crucial for planning your salon day, especially when opting for specific types, such as straight perms or others that might extend your visit.

Hot vs. cold perms

Before diving into the various perm hairstyles available, it’s crucial to understand the difference between hot perms and cold perms. This guide will help you decide which perm technique suits your hair type and styling preferences best.

The cold perm, a traditional method suitable for most hair types, involves applying an alkaline solution to dry hair wrapped around plastic rods to create curls. Conversely, a hot perm employs a comparable technique but uses an acidic solution along with heat. Consequently, a cold perm yields tight, well-defined curls, whereas a hot perm produces looser, softer curls.

The majority of perms are created using the cold process technique. However, certain popular types of hot perms, such as digital perms and straight perms, stand out. These methods are essential for those looking to achieve unique hair textures and styles. Understanding the differences between cold process and hot perms, like digital and straight perms, is important for optimal hair care and styling.

Different types of perms

When you say perm, most people immediately jump to the classic 70s and 80s-era perms that were thick and voluminous. Times have changed, and there are now many types of perms. Whether you have long, short, curly, or straight hair, there’s a perm style for your hair type.

When you mention a perm, many envision the iconic, voluminous perms of the 70s and 80s. However, the world of perms has evolved significantly. Today, a diverse range of perm styles is suitable for every hair type, whether you have long, short, curly, or straight hair. Discover the perfect perm for your hair type and embrace the modern twist on this classic hairstyle. There’s a perm option to refresh your look from loose waves to tight curls.

Hair type / lengthTypes of perms
Long hair
  • Spiral perm
  • Beach wave perm
  • Body wave perm
  • Multi-textured perm
Short hair
  • Pin curl perm
  • Root perm
  • Spiral perm
  • Digital perm
Curly hair
  • Straight perm
  • Partial perm 
  • Spiral perm
Straight / wavy hair
  • Beach wave perm
  • Multi-textured perm
  • Pin curl perm
  • Stack perm
Straight / fine hair
  • Root perm
  • Digital perm
  • Body wave perm

Spiral perm

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A spiral perm is a sought-after hairstyle for those with shoulder-length or longer hair, creating tight, twisted, and bouncy spiral curls. This styling technique involves vertically rolling the hair onto a perm rod to achieve a distinctive spiral shape. The outcome of the perm, including the curl’s tightness and bounce, heavily depends on the type of rod and chemicals used. Besides offering a stunning curl pattern, a spiral perm is an excellent method for adding volume to your hair, making it a favorite choice for individuals aiming to enhance their hair’s body and texture.

Spiral perms, a popular hair styling choice, usually maintain their beautiful curls for up to 6 months. This long-lasting treatment is ideal for those seeking curly hairstyles that stand the test of time.

Body wave perm

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Body wave perms offer a fantastic solution for individuals seeking to boost their hair’s volume and achieve a natural wavy look. Ideal for straight hair that struggles to hold curls, the body wave perm technique uses large rollers to produce relaxed, loose waves, creating an effortlessly chic appearance. This popular hair styling option is perfect for those looking to enhance their hair texture and add a touch of elegance to their look.

Body wave perms, a popular hair styling choice, generally maintain their beautiful waves for approximately 3-5 months.

Beach wave perm

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Get the perfect “just came back from the beach” look with a beach wave perm. This popular hairstyle gives you loose, slightly messy waves without the hassle of saltwater and sand. Achieve this effortless, minimal look with soft, spongey rollers for a natural wave effect, making it a must-try trend. This technique, often preferred over traditional perm rods, offers a smoother, more natural wave. Ideal for those seeking a low-maintenance yet stylish look.

Beach wave perms, a popular hairstyle choice, offer lasting curls and beautiful waves for approximately 4 months. This semi-permanent solution is ideal for those seeking low-maintenance, effortlessly chic looks.

Digital perm

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The digital perm, a leading hair trend from Asia, has become a global sensation, particularly in the U.S. This innovative styling technique, known for creating natural-looking waves and volume, involves using infrared heat and temperature-controlled rods. The process transforms tight curls into soft, loose waves, enhancing hair texture and fullness. Furthermore, the digital perm utilizes gentle chemicals to treat and repair hair, ensuring it remains healthy and vibrant. This modern approach to hair styling, combining advanced technology with hair care, caters to those seeking a fashionable yet manageable hairstyle.

Digital perms offer long-lasting curls, generally lasting for 4 to 6 months.

Pin curl perm

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The pin curl perm offers a fantastic curly hairstyle for short hair lengths, utilizing pins and curlers to create tight, bouncy curls that enhance your hair’s movement. Depending on the curlers’ size, you can achieve varying degrees of curl tightness. This non-chemical perm method is gentle on your hair, although the style may not last as long. Ideal for those seeking a natural way to add curls and volume to short hair, the pin curl perm is a popular choice for its ease of maintenance and dynamic look.

Pin curl perms, a popular hairstyle choice, generally maintain their beautiful curls and volume for approximately 3 to 6 months.

Partial perm (or spot perm)

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A spot perm, also known as a partial perm, is a popular hairstyling technique targeting specific hair sections instead of the entire head. This method is perfect for those looking to add volume to certain areas, conceal thinning spots, or achieve a balanced look for uneven curls. By applying specialized chemicals to relax the hair, which is set around a perm rod, partial perms create lasting curls or waves in your chosen areas. Consulting with a professional stylist will ensure the perm enhances your natural hair, blending flawlessly for a beautiful, voluminous finish. This personalized approach to perming offers a customizable solution for achieving the perfect curly or wavy hairstyle.

The durability of partial perms varies considerably based on factors such as the area treated, the size of curls desired, and the specific style you’re aiming for. Understanding these aspects can help you better gauge how long your partial perm will last.

Root perm

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Root perms, a popular hair styling technique, focus on adding lift and volume by perming only the hair near the scalp, typically within two to four inches. This method is ideal for avoiding damage to already permed hair, ensuring a healthier look. Known for their low maintenance, root perms provide an excellent solution for those seeking to enhance their hair’s body without the constant upkeep. However, it’s important to note that root perms don’t last very long, requiring regular salon visits for touch-ups. Opt for root perms to effortlessly achieve voluminous hair with minimal damage.

Root perms, a popular hairstyle choice, usually maintain their volume and texture for about one month.

Stack perm

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The stack perm is a unique take on the partial perm, sparing the roots while concentrating on the middle and lower sections of the hair. It’s perfect for adding volume and achieving a layered appearance. Various rod sizes for the middle and lower hair sections ensure a smooth transition between your natural hair and the newly added curls and waves. Like other partial perms, it boasts the advantage of requiring minimal maintenance.

Stack perms, a popular hairstyle choice, are durable for approximately 4 to 5 months.

Multi-textured perm

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This technique offers an excellent method for achieving curls with a natural appearance featuring a mix of textures. Mirroring the approach of a stack perm, your stylist can employ rods and rollers of varying sizes to craft a blend of both tight and loose curls. The outcome is a layered hairstyle that mimics the diverse tightness found in natural curls. Ideally suited for medium-length or longer hair, the durability of this style can extend for several months, depending on the chosen variations.

Multi-textured perms, a popular hairstyle choice, are durable for approximately 3-4 months. This timeframe makes them a convenient option for those seeking long-lasting curls without frequent maintenance.

Straight perm

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This last style is for those with curly hair naturally or through a perm who want to reverse the process. Straight perm (or reverse perm) is a Japanese type of hot perm that applies heat (usually with a flat iron) and chemicals to straighten hair. The results are long-lasting, which is why some people choose this option instead of other hair straightening techniques. Straight perms are low maintenance daily, but the treatment usually takes between six to eight hours — so plan accordingly. This treatment can also damage your hair, so properly care for it after getting it (like with our Bonding Collection).

Straightening perms, often lasting between 6 to 7 months, offer a long-term solution for achieving sleek, smooth hair.\

What type of perm should you get?

Selecting the right perm requires careful consideration of your hair’s length and texture. Certain perms enhance your natural waves for those with long hair, while short hair benefits from styles designed to add volume and bounce. Understanding your hair’s natural texture is crucial, as it influences whether you should opt for a look that amplifies your existing texture or transforms it entirely, such as adding volume to fine or flat hair with a volumizing perm. To make an informed choice, it’s beneficial to browse through hairstyle photos and consult with a professional stylist. This approach ensures you pick a perm that looks great and complements your hair’s unique characteristics.

How much does a perm cost?

On average, the cost of a perm usually ranges from $80 up to $200, but it will vary depending on where you get the service done and the type of perm you choose.

Some perm styles require complex and lengthy procedures, costing more. When considering a perm, it’s essential to factor in the maintenance cost and frequency of necessary touch-ups. Understanding the long-term care of perms can help manage expectations and budgeting for this popular hairstyle.

What to do before a perm

Prepare for Your Perm Appointment: Simple Steps for Best Results. Ensure your hair is clean and free from heavy products upon arrival. You are avoiding conditioner before your appointment is key. If you’ve recently dyed your hair, waiting a few weeks is advisable. Importantly, discuss any previous chemical treatments with your stylist. Whether you desire loose waves or tight curls, having a photo or discussing your desired look ensures you and your stylist align perfectly. These tips will help you get the most out of your perm service.

What to do after getting a perm

To ensure the longevity and desired tightness of your curls after getting a perm, avoiding washing your hair or taking a shower for the first 24 hours is crucial. Prematurely washing your hair can significantly alter the appearance of your curls. This essential advice is even highlighted in popular culture, as showcased when Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde” won her first court case by illustrating that a witness was lying about her actions following a perm appointment. This example underscores the importance of proper perm care to achieve and maintain the perfect look. Remember, patience and proper aftercare are essential to keep your curls looking their best.

Maintaining proper hydration is crucial during the perm process, as it significantly reduces moisture from the hair. Ensuring your hair remains well-hydrated is essential for achieving the best results from your perm and maintaining healthy, vibrant locks.

Can you perm colored hair or dye it after?

Perming colored hair is possible, but avoiding conducting these treatments successively is advisable due to their tendency to dry out hair strands. For optimal hair health, it’s best to complete one treatment and allow your hair approximately a month to rejuvenate before undergoing the following process. This approach ensures your hair maintains vitality and glossiness while preventing damage. Prioritizing hair recovery time between treatments like hair coloring and perming can significantly enhance your hair’s condition and appearance.

Before considering hair dyeing, ensure your hair is well-moisturized. Opt for Hydrate Shampoo and Hydrate Conditioner to gently cleanse and detangle your hair before perming. These products are essential for maintaining healthy, moisturized hair, especially before undergoing chemical treatments like hair dyeing or perming. Keep your hair’s health in check with the right moisturizing products.

Take care of your hair.

Accepting and celebrating your unique hair texture, permed, curly, or otherwise, is a personalized voyage that demands tailored hair care strategies. Grasping the particular necessities of your hair type and supplying it with the appropriate products and treatments is paramount. Whether establishing a regimen for curly hair or discovering maintenance tips for permed locks, selecting the proper care routine is crucial for enhancing and revealing your hair’s inherent splendor.


Looking for a hairstyle transformation with added texture and volume? Investing in a perm might be the perfect solution for you. Choosing the right perm for your hair type and following detailed aftercare are key to ensuring your hair remains healthy and vibrant. At Guys & Dolls Hair Salon in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, our experienced stylists specialize in identifying the ideal perm to match your personal style. Ready for stunning curls or waves? Schedule a consultation with us today and get ready to flaunt your new look!