Can you perm curly or wavy hair? Can it give your curls more volume and shape?

adds volume

As we said, Maria had curly hair, yet it lacked definition. When she walked into the salon and asked how to revive her curls, we suggested a permanent wave.

Is it possible to perm curly hair? Maybe you’ve asked yourself the same question.


And the answer is: it depends on the result you’re looking for.

  • If you’re considering perming your curly hair to give it more shape and definition, the answer is yes, and it’s even recommended.
  • However, if you think a perm will make your curls more manageable, less frizzy, or healthier… don’t even think about it. If that’s your goal, perming your hair will only expose it to chemicals unnecessarily and waste your money.


On top of that, there’s another factor to keep in mind.  There are many different types of curly hair, with different curl patterns. Your unique curl pattern is an important factor to keep in mind when deciding if a perm is right for you.

 Gentle waves should not be treated the same as kinky curls. 

And the differences are bigger than how the curls look. Different curl types have different internal structures and require different care.


So, if you’re curious how a perm will look in your curly hair, keep reading because today we’re going to discuss:

  • What curl types can be permed with good results
  • How to care for your curls after a perm


But no matter what you decide, it’s important to remember that curly hair tends to be dry.

You probably already know this from experience, but since curly hair loses moisture easily, it needs a lot of care.  Well, curly hair that’s been permed loses moisture even easier and needs even more care.

If you’re someone who pampers your locks, keep on reading!

But if hair care isn’t your thing, continue at your own risk.



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What curl types could benefit from a perm

more volume to the hair

There are three basic types of curly hair: wavy hair, curly hair, and kinky hair.


  • Wavy hair is somewhere between straight and curly hair. It tends to have more shine than curly hair, but not as straight hair, and is usually more prone to frizz.
  • Curly hair has a distinct S-shaped curl, and those curls can range from the shape of an uppercase S to a lowercase s, or sometimes even a z.
  • Kinky curly hair has very tight curls and tends to be the finest and most fragile type of curly hair. This hair type also tends to be dry and prone to breakage.


Now, let’s take a break and think: what kind of curls should be permed?


If you think it’s the first two, then great! It looks like you’re paying attention!

 A curly perm should never be done on kinky hair, as the chemicals can easily weaken the strands and leave them devoid of moisture and very prone to breakage. 

If you’re interested in stretching your curls, we recommended other treatments, like hair botox, for example.


Perms are a great way to add definition to curly hair, but it’s crucial to discuss the rod’s size to use with your hairstylist.

Now, if you have curly hair, I would suggest a partial perm.

Does anyone know what a partial perm is?


Basically, it’s perm in which the stylist only curls part of the hair.

In general, curly hair appears flat near the roots. If you’re looking for more volume, I recommend you perm the roots and leave the defined and voluminous curls in the rest of your hair alone.


 As you can see, it’s very important to consult with a professional stylist before perming curly hair. 

A stylist can see beyond appearances and understand the different structures, patterns, and needs of different hair types. They can then use this knowledge to find the best solution for your hair goals.

define hair waves

Don’t forget that perms are chemical processes that use ammonium thioglycolate to break down the hair structure. Once it takes on the desired shape, a neutralizer with an oxidizing agent stops the process.

If you already have very tight curls, the solution can make the strands swell and become ever more porous, dry, and frizzy.


On the other hand, Perming wavy hair can define its “S” shape and give it more volume and bounce.

Do you still want to get a perm?


If so, here’s a few things you should keep in mind.

First of all, make sure there is no silicone in your hair, as it can act as a barrier and block the perming solution from saturating your hair.

 We recommend using a clarifying or anti-residue shampoo to remove any chemical products or buildup up that might interfere with the perm. 


Curly hair that’s been permed also requires more care, so make sure always to apply styling products when it’s still wet, never brush it while dry, and use a diffuser with your blow dryer.

I also recommend washing your hair every other day or less and using deep conditioning treatments regularly. Don’t forget that the cuticle -which protects the cortex of your hair- has been damaged, which means it will lose moisture very easily.


Now, if you’ve already got a perm, I’m sure you’re curious how to make it last as long as possible.

If so, keep reading!


Have you already permed your curly or wavy hair? Then let’s talk about how to care for it properly

After perming curly hair, don’t even think about washing it for at least two days, so the hydrogen bonds set properly.

And don’t worry if your curls appear very tight at first, as they’ll loosen up and take their final shape in about two weeks.

When cared for correctly, a perm will last at least four months.


  • As I mentioned before, curly hair requires a shampoo specifically designed for this hair type and should not be washed every day.


  • Try to avoid using a hairdryer if possible. But if you don’t have a choice, make sure to use a diffuser.


Gels work well to create tight curls, while creams and mousses are great for looser ringlets and waves.


  • If you have the bad habit of brushing your hair when it’s dry, stop!

Curly hair should never be brushed while dry; instead, style and detangle it with a wide-toothed comb.


As you can see, there’s an entire science hidden involved in perming curly hair, both before and after the treatment.



I would recommend perming curly hair to:

  • Create more volume and definition in wavy hair.
  • Create more even curls in hair with a varied texture. Maria, mentioned at the beginning of the article, had hair like this. After the perm, her curls were more even, defined, and even fun!
  • Add volume hair that’s curly on the ends but straight at the roots.
  • Lastly, I would never recommend a perm to someone with kinky or very defined curls.


Now it’s your turn to share: what kind of curly hair do you have?

And after reading all this, are you planning on getting a perm?

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