How many perm rods do I need? What size should they be?

There are two things you need to keep in mind before deciding what size and how many perm rods you’ll need to do a perm: how long your hair is and what kind of curl you want to end up with.



  • To get a perm with well-defined, tight curls, you’ll need:

If you have long hair, down to your waist, you’ll need about 46 small perm rods.

If your hair is short or medium length, you’ll need between 24 and 36 small perm rods.


  • For a perm with looser, less defined curls, you’ll need:

If you have long hair, you should need about 32 medium perm rods.

If you have short or medium length hair, you’ll need between 24 and 36 medium perm rods.


  • For a perm with loose, beachy waves, you’ll need:

Depending on how much hair you have, you should use between 15 and 27 large perm rods.


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“I’ll be back.”

Do you know that quote?

You probably do, because it’s one of the quotes that immortalized Arnold Schwarzenegger’s terrifying Terminator.


But, in the world of hair care, what has come back is the perm. Yep, that same perm that famous Hollywood stars and housewives, and anyone on top of the latest trends, wore in the 80s.

shoulder length

The perm is back, and it’s new and improved, because the chemicals used to set the curls are much gentler. But still today, it’s important to decide what style of perm you’re looking for.

And you’ll only get the style you’re looking for if you choose the right size perm rod for the kind of curl you’re hoping to get.


 Because a tight curl, like a corkscrew, isn’t the same as beachy waves, one of the most sought-after styles. 

That’s why the size of the perm rod is very important, as is your hair length, since each of your locks of hair will take on the shape of curl you’re looking for, depending on how many times you roll it around the perm rod.

fewer perm rods

So, if you’re ready to get rid of that straight hair, or you’re tired of using a curling iron every single day, stick around because I’ll tell you:

  • How many perm rods you should use based on how long your hair is and what kind of curl you want
  • A table of the different colored perm rods according to their size


The perm is back and today you’ll define which style you’re looking for by determining which size perm rod you’re going to use.

Tabla de Contenidos


How many perm rods you should use depending on how long your hair is and what kind of curl you want

Generally hair stylists divide hair lengths into three categories:

  • Short
  • Medium
  • Long


So those are the parameters that we’ll use today to define what size perm rod you need to do your perm and get the shape of curl you’re looking for.

Now, how do you know what kind of curl will go best with your style?


Well, you can test through trial and error.

What do you need to do this experiment?


  • All you’ll need is a hair curler and if it has interchangeable barrels to adjust the size of the curl, even better.
  • Once you have the curler on hand, separate your hair out into small areas and curl your hair.
  • Try different curls in your hair and take a close look at yourself in the mirror.

What style curl do you like best?


You can get that same style in your perm if you choose the right size perm rod.

Let’s start with short hair, which is so on trend these days thanks to pixie cuts and bobs.


  • Perm rod sizes for short and medium length hair.

What kind of curl do you want for your short or medium-length hair? A tight and well-defined curl?


The smaller and tighter the curls you want are, the smaller the perm rod, and as such, the more of them you’ll need.

 In this case, you’ll need between 24 and 36 perm rods.  


It’s very important to be super neat about where you separate your hair to then roll it correctly into the perm rod, starting at the ends.


Are you looking for looser and more natural curls?

I personally love these kinds of curls because they give your hair more natural movement and also, they you look more youthful, always a good thing.

 In that case, you’ll need medium-sized perm rods, about 18-24 of them. 


Now, what happens if you have long hair, say down to your waist for example?

You’ll have more options for the style of curl you want, since you can have from tight corkscrew curls all the way to wild beachy waves.


  • Perm rod sizes for long hair.

Long hair is fun and versatile, so you can get from fun little corkscrews all the way to much-admired beach waves.


  • If what you want is a tight, corkscrew curl, you’ll need about 46 perm rods for your long hair.
  • If you’re looking for looser curls, but with some definition, you’ll need 32 medium-sized perm rods.
  • If you are dying for beachy waves, you should opt for larger perm rods, about 15-27 of them.


Did you know that in colorimetry, there is a universal classification system of hair colors, that’s the same across the world, from Japan to Nigeria to countries in Latin America?


Well, it’s also true for perm rods.

Countries all over use the same colors to classify perm rods based on their size. Keep reading and you’ll learn how to correctly choose the ones you need when it comes time to buy them.


Table of perm rod colors according to size

Like I said before, perm rods are differentiated by color, and the smaller they are, the tighter your curl will be.

Smaller perm rods make tighter curls, and include:

  • Red perm rods: These are the smallest ones that make for the tightest curls. You use these in hair that is less than 3 inches long.
  • Blue perm rods: These are slightly larger than the red ones and work for a tight curl in hair less than 4 inches long.
  • Pink perm rods: These are for tight curls in hair longer than 4 inches in length.


You use medium and large perm rods in hair longer than 4 inches for different styles of looser curls.

  • Grey perm rods: For hair longer than 4 inches
  • Purple perm rods: Used to create loose curls in hair that’s longer than shoulder-length



In order to choose the right sized perm rod for your perm, it’s important to keep in mind the kind of curl you’re looking to get and your hair length.

Before getting a perm, use a curler to compare the different styles of curls, and to be able to better appreciate which ones goes best with your face and style.

Because the perm is back. Long live perms!

So, what size perm rods do you think are best for the perm of your dreams?

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