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Can You Perm Bleached Hair? | Some Warnings to Consider

We’ve been perming our hair since the 1800s and bleaching it since the Roman Empire. It’s not uncommon to see someone with bleached hair or a perm, but can you perm bleached hair, though?

What Is a Perm?

Woman getting a perm for a piece titled Can You Perm Bleached Hair

Praiwan Wasanruk/Shutterstock

A perm refers to a hair treatment done to change the texture of your hair. It curls straight hair and straightens curly hair. People commonly mean the treatment that curls your hair when they say perm. It uses a chemical to reshape your hair.

How a Perm Works

The most common way people perm hair is the cold perm. A cold perm doesn’t use heat. Instead, it uses rods that you wrap the hair around. Then you apply a chemical solution to the hair.

Ammonium thioglycolate is the chemical used in perms. The chemical changes the structure of the hair, allowing the hair to reshape.

Then a neutralizer is applied to stop the process. There are different strengths of perm lotion. Some are for color-treated or bleached hair.

Other Perm Types

There are several other types of perms that all have varying functions. There are perms not done on the entire head. These include the spot perm and partial perm.

The partial perm only curls a specific section and not the entire head. We do spot perms on curly hair. It makes their curls more uniform.

There is also the root perm, which, as the name describes, perms the roots of the hair. It adds more volume to your hair.

Similar to the spot perm, there is the body wave perm. This perm uses larger rods and gives more of a wavy effect. The body wave perm is often done on straight or wavy hair. On wavy hair, it can help make more uniform waves.

On the other hand, there is the multi-textured perm. This gives a less uniform look to the waves or curls. It uses rods of varying sizes instead of the same size.

Can you Perm Bleached Hair?

If you decide to move forward, find a hairdresser with experience working with bleached hair. Understand that even if your hairdresser does everything right, the process can still lead to irreversible damage.

Wait a few weeks between bleaching your hair and getting a perm. After bleaching your hair, take care of it. Use good conditioners to keep it hydrated, don’t use heat on it, and be gentle with it.

It’s also important to note you can’t dye your hair immediately after getting a perm, either. It risks deactivating the perm lotion the way washing your hair immediately after does.

Before perming your entire head, do a test patch to see if the perm lotion will cause too much damage. If you pass the patch test, you can move forward. If you do not pass the test, moving forward will result in irreversible hair damage (just watch the video above).

Be open with your stylist about what you have done to your hair in the past. If you withhold something you have done, the stylist won’t have all the information they need to treat your hair.

Can You Perm Dyed Hair?

In short, yes you can. The reason is that while dyeing also introduces chemicals to your hair, it’s less likely to damage as bad as bleach. Wait at least a few weeks after dyeing your hair to introduce any other chemicals, including perm lotion.

Before getting a perm on dyed hair, do a nourishing repair treatment. Tell your stylist your hair color history. Having your hair history will let them decide which perm lotion to use for your hair to avoid as much damage as possible.

If you bleached your hair before dyeing, take caution when deciding whether to perm it. Follow your stylist’s instructions on how to take care of your hair.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you still have questions? Here are some answers to frequently asked questions.

How long does a perm last?

A perm can last from two months to a year, depending on several factors. Depending on the quality of your perm, how you care for it, and what comes into contact with your hair regularly, the perm can last shorter or longer.

How do I care for a perm?

The most important thing to ensure your perm doesn’t fail immediately is to wait at least 72 hours to get it wet. Leave your hair alone for a few days to let the curls set and avoid breaking the curl pattern.

A perm can dry your hair out, so make sure you are keeping it moisturized. Your stylist can recommend a conditioner or hair treatment to help keep your hair as healthy as possible.

Bleaching also dries your hair, so it is even more important to keep hair moisturized when perming. Your stylist can also recommend other products needed to maintain your curly hair. Avoid using heat because that can break down the perm and damage your hair.

After perming bleached hair, you should avoid further damage to ensure nothing happens like breakage. From now on, treat your hair like it’s naturally curly or wavy.

Use curly hair products. Stop brushing your hair while it’s dry and start finger combing or using a wide-tooth comb while in the shower.

When drying your hair, use the towel to scrunch the water out. This will help your curls take shape after showering. Let your hair air dry after that.

How do I care for bleached hair?

One big contradiction between caring for curly hair and caring for bleached hair is when you are supposed to brush it. Brush curly hair wet because it reduces frizz.

You’re supposed to brush bleached hair dry to avoid breakage. Your hair will be dryer and more brittle. It will be more vulnerable when wet. Talk to your stylist about which way you should brush your hair.

Like with the perm, since these are both chemical treatments, you need to reintroduce moisture and oils.

Wash your hair less so that the natural oils in your hair have time to work. Find routines and products that work for you. Your stylist will have more specific advice and can suggest products.

What do I do if my hair is too damaged?

While bleaching is incredibly effective at removing color from hair, bleaching your hair strips your hair follicles of the protective oils that keep it healthy. This is why bleaching can be so damaging, especially doing it a lot without any respite.

The easiest way to face this situation is to cut your hair short and let new, healthy hair grow. If you want to salvage what is left, consider getting a haircut to cut off a few inches of the damaged hair to remove any split ends.

Either way, you should find hair treatments and masks that work for damaged hair. Giving your hair the moisture it needs will help it start to recover. Use a shampoo regulated to help bleached hair. Similarly, use a hair repair conditioner.

Protein treatments are another great way to start repairing your hair. Speak with your stylist, as they will know what is best for the extent of your hair damage.

So, Can You Perm Bleached Hair?

Yes, perming bleached hair is technically possible. But we don’t ever recommend doing it. Both use chemicals on hair, making it risky unless you take great caution. The chemicals used in either process can easily damage your hair.

Bleaching will damage your hair even if it isn’t visible, which leaves it vulnerable to further damage from the perm lotion. When in doubt, always contact a professional hairdresser to learn what can and can’t be done.