What kind of perm rods should you choose for your perm?

what color to choose

“Karina, what kind of rods should I use for my perm? What size?”


That’s one of the most common questions I get via email, especially when perms are all the rage.

And people asking those questions also ask about what rod size is best for different hair lengths.

We all like the answer to be simple when we have a question, but unfortunately that’s not always possible.


Choosing the right rods for a perm is something that takes a lot of thought, because the rod size depends a lot on your hair length and the kind of curl that you’re hoping to end up with.


By now you must know that there are different sized perm rods used to achieve different sized curls.

The smaller the rod, the smaller and tighter the curls will be. Also, the more times that your hair is rolled around the rod, the more curls each piece of hair will have. That’s why it’s important to keep in mind hair length.

Because, the longer your hair is, the more times you’ll have to wrap it around the rod.

Did you know that there is a universal scale that stylists use to determine the kind of curl you’ll get depending on the rod?


And according to this scale, the rods are differentiated using different colors.

Are you about to get a perm? If so, let me help you choose the right rod to get the result that you’re looking for.


That’s why I’m going to tell you about:

  • The most common perm rods and which one to choose for your hair
  • How to correctly put roll your hair to do a perm


Let’s not get rolled up before we get started, let’s discover the fascinating world of perm rods.


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The Most Common Perm Rods

Like I said before, perm rods are designed according to a universal standard.

The different sizes correspond to different colors, although certain manufacturers might use different variants of the same color than other manufacturers, even if they are the same size.

How do you know which is which then?


It’s very simple if you learn what the basic colors mean.

You should also remember that perm rods come in concave and straight shapes.


  • Concave rods are thinner in the middle and flare at the ends. There are two benefits to these kinds of rods.

First, it makes it easier to lay them against the scalp with the hair rolled around it

And secondly, it gives a slight variation to the curl, making it thinner around the edges to make it look more natural.


  • The straight rods have the advantage of creating a uniform curl.

What Color Rod You Should Choose According to the Kind of Curl that You’re Hoping to Get

So, now it’s important to keep in mind the kind of curl you’re hoping to achieve and your hair length to decide what color of rod to use.


  • Red Rods

These are the smallest kind of rod that are part of the system and generally they’re only used with short hair to get tight curls.

These are the best for very short hair that doesn’t exceed two inches in length.


  • Blue

These rods are bigger than the red ones and can be used on short hair to get looser curls.

On hair longer than four inches, they can be used to get pronounced curls.


  • Pink

If your hair is longer than four inches and you want tight curls, very tight curls, these are the rods you should use, but if you have shorter hair, these will help you create looser curls.


  • Gray

These rods are known as being “good for everyone.” In general, they’re used to get a tighter curl for hair at least four inches long or to get looser curls in shorter hair.


  • Purple

These are the rods that are used to get the famous beach waves perm that is so trendy today.

They’re generally used on very long hair.


Now that we’re talking about perm rods, I just remembered Carmen who came to me with the idea of getting a perm.

Carmen’s hair is approximately three inches long.

She wanted to get a lot of volume with very tight curls, so she went with grey rods for her perm.

Now if she had just wanted volume, what kind of rod should she have used?


If she wanted less curl and just more volume, she would have chosen grey rods to create a larger and smoother curl pattern.

For very long hair, using bigger rods will result in larger and softer curls, which are actually more like waves than curls.


Well, now you know the most important part: How to choose the right rod size according to the kind of curl that you’re hoping to get.

There’s one more detail to keep in mind: the material that the rod is made of.


Kinds of Perm Rods by Material

You’ll also find many different kinds of rods that are differentiated based on the material that they’re made of.

You can find:

Plastic Rods

These are the most common in salons because they are the easiest to clean and disinfect. They are cylindrical, with a lateral rubber line that traps the hair once your hair is rolled around the cylinder.

Wooden Perm Rods

These are put in the same way as plastic rods, but they’re made of wood.

Even if you’re almost an expert at perms, it still will be more difficult to roll hair into these rods because of the slippery nature of wood. They’re also harder to clean and disinfect.


Velcro Perm Rods

These aren’t used for perms with chemicals.

I recommend always choosing plastic rods, since they’re easier to put in and easier to keep clean. That’s why you should concentrate on choosing the right sized rod and the right color to get the curl that you’re looking for.


You’re worried you don’t know how to put them in correctly?

Make those worries disappear because that’s exactly what I’m going to tell you about next.


The Right Way to Put Perm Rods In

Aside from choosing the most appropriate rod, it’s also very important to put it in correctly.

The way you roll your hair, the rod’s size and the number of rods you use all affect the end result.

In this case, I’m going to tell you I put the rods in Sabrina’s hair, a sweet young girl with hair down to her waist.


Sabrina was looking for a perm with beach waves.

  • After washing her hair and without applying any conditioner so as to prevent anything from standing in the way of the solution’s absorption, I divided her hair into nine sections.
  • The sections should always be a little thinner than the width of the rod that you’re using.
  • Then, I started with section one, the middle section at the crown of her head, separating a lock about as thick as the rod I was going to use.
  • I rolled the lock uniformly into the rod, keeping it tight and once I got to her scalp, I secured the rod.
  • The majority of perm rods have an elastic tie that you stretch across the rolled-up segment to hold everything in place.


I recommend that you continue working on the sections in the following order:

  • Section 2: central nape
  • Sections 3 and 4: right crown, right nape
  • Sections 5 and 6: left crown, left nape
  • Section 7: right side
  • Section 8: left side
  • Section 9: top section

Always roll the hair toward the bottom in each section (toward the neck in the back part and toward the ears on the right and left sides).

Now you just have to wait until the solution and neutralizer do their job.



The first thing that you need to understand before anything else is that a thick rod will make a soft curl and a small rod will make a tight, defined curl.

If you roll hair more than 6 times around a rod, then the diameter of the curl will be increased as the hair accumulates around the rod.

If your hair is short and you can only get the hair one and a half times around the rod, the result will be fewer curls in your hair.

What if you want to use two different sizes of rod?


This technique is absolutely possible, and it is most often used for very long hair.

But remember that when you use the smallest rods, like the red one for example, your hair will always appear shorter because the curl is tighter.


Lastly, remember that a perm is a process that uses potent chemicals that modify the internal structure of your hair.

If you’re not sure about it, always talk to your professional.

What color perm rod will you use to get the curl pattern you’re looking for?

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