How long does it take to get a perm at a hair salon?

where to buy the solution and the rollers

The other day Susana came in to get her hair permed.

Yes! Women today are still getting perms, whether it’s for a special occasion or to just rock a new look.

That being said, from the time Susana came into the salon till the time she left over 4 hours went by.


That means that if you’re thinking of getting a perm, you should plan on 4 to 5 hours in the beauty salon. Almost half the day.

Of course the total amount of time it takes depends, among other things, on the length of your hair, the kind of perm rods you choose, and above all the expertise of the stylist at work on your permed hairstyle.

Do you think an expert stylist would take the same amount of time as someone new to the industry?


Not at all.

We all know that practice makes perfect.

 And the more practice and experience a stylist has in perming hair, the quicker the process will be. 


But be careful, because quick is not synonymous with good results either.

What you want, at the end of the day, are some stunningly gorgeous waves and curls.

So what’s the big deal if you have to wait another hour?


Like I said, the other day I permed my client Susana’s hair.

From the time she walked in till the time she left, a little more than 4 hours passed.

Let me tell you how our time was spent.


Tabla de Contenidos


Selecting the Curler Size (one hour)

The first thing we did with Susana was choose the size of the perm rod. There are a variety of curlers, flexi rods, and rollers that come in many different sizes.

She chose a style that’s defined by curls throughout the length of the hair and the ends, not so much towards the roots, so we went with medium size curlers.


This process of selecting the curler size can take some time, depending on if the client comes with an idea already in mind or if she needs to figure out what she likes in the salon.

If she needs to browse through styles on Instagram or look over magazines when she arrives to the salon, this step will take more time.


Once the size of curls and curlers are chosen we can move on to the next step.


Selecting your Perm Solution (5 minutes)

Depending on the health of your hair, your stylist will decide which product to apply.

There are products for natural hair, damaged hair, hair with highlights, grey hair, and strong, healthy hair.

With Susana I used one specifically for hair with highlights.


This step won’t take much time at all because your stylist will decide for you based on the needs of your hair.

The next step is to evaluate your hair to see if it’s in the proper condition to handle being permed.


Evaluating the condition of your hair and scalp (30 minutes)

Before starting the perm process, it’s important to make sure that the hair will be able to handle the chemicals used to do the perm. It’s recommended to do a strand test.

Simply apply a small amount of perm solution to one strand of hair, and if it doesn’t split, we’re ready to go through the transformation without problems or concerns.


 In Susana’s case the strand test was twice as important because she had recently had her hair bleached. 

The next step is to choose the hair perming technique.


Selecting the technique

The technique refers to the way your hair is wound on rollers, whether that’s in a vertical or horizontal orientation or throughout the length of your hair.

In Susana’s case we used a horizontal technique only throughout the length and ends of her hair since she likes her hair to be straighter towards the roots with looser, freer curls throughout the length of her hair to the ends.

You can talk with your stylist to figure out which technique you like the most.


We already chose the perm solution, we evaluated the condition of her hair, and we determined the technique we’ll use to do her perm, all of which, prior to application, can take a half an hour more or less.

Now let’s find out how long the aforementioned application takes!


The application of the perm can take between two to three hours


Washing the hair (10 minutes)

The first step is to wash the hair with a neutral shampoo, to get rid of any remaining chemicals, without rinsing.

At this point it’s very important to not rub the scalp in excess to avoid irritating the scalp.


We can apply a hair protector, but ask your stylist if it’s even necessary since the chosen perm solution shouldn’t cause any extra damage.

We dry the excess water with a towel and begin.

So get comfortable!!!

Now we arrive to the longest part, placing and winding your hair on the curlers.


Placement of the curlers (between 1 and 2 hours)

With Susana specifically, I applied the perm solution during the placement of the curlers to create more distinguished curls.

You can also apply the solution once the curlers are already placed.


This task can take 1 to 2 hours, depending on the length of the hair and the thickness of the curlers.

Once we’ve placed them all, we let it sit for 20 minutes.


In my salon I always offer my clients manicures so they don’t get bored and tired of waiting.

It’s a long process, but it’s worth it!


Neutralization (15-20 minutes)

To know if the perm solution worked correctly, we take out 1 to 2 curlers from different sections, and if we see that the curls are distinguished and fabulous we can continue on to neutralization.


The process of neutralization is where we apply a neutralizing solution to close the hair cuticles.

The solution can be applied with the curlers still on. This step is very important because it’s this step that definitively leaves the hair curly.

We let it sit for 10 minutes.


Afterwards we take the curlers out and apply more neutralizing solution. The difference is that this time our straight hair is now fabulously curly. Give it 5 minutes and you’re ready!!! Our perm is now complete.

We rinse with an abundant amount of water so no solution remains.


We then dry with a blowdryer without stretching or pulling the curls. With Susana I used a diffuser, a drying accessory that helps to form curls and to give your hair more volume.


How to take care of your perm for the first few days after application and afterward

  • You shouldn’t wash your hair for 24 hours after this process, that way your perm will last longer and will look fresh for a longer period of time.
  • Use a wide tooth comb to untangle your hair, because a fine tooth comb will straighten the curls and generate static.
  • Use curl defining combing creams and curly hair masks, there are many brands that have special lines of products for wavy and curly hair.


The perm will last 2 to 3 months if it goes from the roots all the way throughout the length of the hair. If you dye your hair wait 15 days after getting the perm.

If your perm is only done throughout the length of the hair or towards the ends, like Susana, try to only apply dyes towards the roots.


The perm is a classic and will never be out of style, it’s a long process that brings about fabulous results.

Take half a day out of your schedule to dedicate to your hair!

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