HAIR 101: To Perm or Not To Perm?

Friday, September 06, 2013Kim Anne Castro

I had been picking exactly the same hairstyle over and over again for roughly seven years and for some reason, circumstances called for a change. As I was searching for a new 'do, I only had quite a small selection of what might actually suit me and I found getting a perm was the best option for me - after all, I've always admired Blair Waldorf's curls and have always been a fan of Victoria Secret Angels' sexy luscious waves.

After a long time of hesitation, I'd finally made up my mind: I stepped into a Korean salon and got my hair digipermed! I was so excited and nervous altogether throughout the duration of the process. Maybe nervous was an understatement, I reckon scared was more appropriate. My heart was literally beating real hard, thumping up and down heavily and my hands were trembling. 'This perm should better look good, or else,' I thought to myself. 

But before finally coming up with a decision, I spent months researching and contemplating. Apparently, the world wide web doesn't offer much of the information I needed, not enough to seal the deal. Hence, I'm making this all-you-need-to-know-before-getting-a-perm guide and I'm dedicating this to the girls out there who want to get a perm but are a little too apprehensive.

So... to perm or not to perm?

That is the question. And the answer may vary as there are a few things that you should take into consideration when making a decision whether to get a perm or not.


There are two kinds of methods used in perming the hair: 
(1) cold perm, the regular method which uses regular rollers and curlers; and
(2) digital perm or hot perm, a method introduced by Asians which uses hot curlers. 

Before getting a perm, you should - of course - determine which of the two is best for you.

Of course, you should consider your budget. If you are on a tight budget, you may want to think twice before stepping into a salon. Basically, what happened to me was that I spent way more than I expected I would. 

The stylist will first see if your hair is in perfect condition for a perm. If it's dry or damaged, a special (more expensive) chemical will have to be used and a pre-perm treatment (usually keratin treatment) will be necessary, otherwise your perm will be frizzy, unhealthy and will definitely look unflattering. Not to mention all the other things the stylist will suggest (and keep persuading) you to avail, e.g. products for maintenance, hair manicure and in my case, rebond for the upper half of my hair.

The price depends on the salon but usually a digital perm (sans other treatments and maintenance products) costs $100-$200. I'm not sure about the normal cold perm but it's surely less expensive than a digiperm.


 Perms can make you extra pretty when done right. So before getting one, make sure you know how exactly you like your hair to look like or at least have a rough idea of what look you want to go for.

There are various types of perm suitable for every face shape, personal style and preference. Below are the types of perm you might want to consider:

However, not every hair type is a good candidate for a perm. So you might ask, "When shouldn't I get a perm?" To answer that question, following are the top red flags:

One of the most common misconception about perms is that they're "low-maintenance." I used to have the same thinking too until I actually got a perm. 

To keep your perm pretty and intact for a long time, maintenance and proper care are required. There is a need of applying hair products everyday to keep the curls as is and the hair healthy. Brushing and combing your hair becomes a major don't and getting rid of tangles becomes a big problem. As a matter of fact, the "effortless curls" a perm promises isn't too effortless after all. 

Before I got my hair permed, I used to just take a shower, spray hair spritz, comb my hair once and get out of the house - that's no more than 3 minutes. Now, my hair uses up a good 10 minutes of my getting-ready time. But it's fine for me; the long-lasting fabulous curls is worth spending a bit more time anyway.

People say perms generally last 2-6 months, but actually, with proper care perms can last forever unless you cut them off. 


So your hair is in good condition, you have the time and the budget, and you know very well that perm is for you. 
What's next? GET IT DONE. Yay!

To get the perm that you'll absolutely love, here are the tips that you should gear yourself up before heading out to the salon:


Perms are beautiful, but like what I've been saying throughout this screed, they're not for everyone. Always consult and discuss with an expert (a good hair stylist, that is) first before coming up with a decision because I'm sure you don't want to regret it. A perm is one of the easiest ways to achieve fun, beautiful hair. So if you have decided to get one, I really wish that it becomes a wonderful experience for you. 

Another thing: Please don't ever try a home perm. Seriously. 

{ Coming up soon: Proper Perm Care }

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9 comment(s)

  1. Good article!You really did a good research for this!! My hair are naturally curled do it does not concern me but some of these apply for straightening perms too. Why don't you put your picture as well to see how your new hair looks like?

    Spotlights on the Redhead

    1. Thanks, Anna! Most of this article comes from my own experience because I have read a lot of articles about perm which I find a bit misleading and confusing. And yes, a lot of these considerations also apply to hair straightening, especially the red flags and the after-care. I'll post photos of my perm soon! :)

  2. Thank you! So helpful as I am considering a perm but couldn't find a lot of solid research. Your insight was instrumental in my decision!

    1. I'm so happy that this post was able to help you in making a decision. That's really my purpose in writing this blog post because I was also once "lost," if you know what I mean. :)

  3. this is so helpful! can you post a photo of your perm?

    1. Yes sure! On my next Hair 101 post, I will post photos. But if you'll look at my outfit posts, you will also see how my perms look. :)

  4. Great post~ Thanks for doing all the research. One question, though. You say it's bad to get a perm if your hair has been dyed, but plenty of your example pictures are of people with dyed/bleached hair. Can you clear that up for me? :D

  5. This is so helpful thank you! I'm getting my hair permed today and just wondered which type of perm you have?

  6. That was really informative. Im also planning to have my perm this week. Thanks for that :)