Perm or Color First and How Long to Wait Between Perm and Color Service

Madonna in the 80s wore a signature look that inspired women and men in droves to get spiral perms for an overly excited amount of volume.

Things have deflated into larger ringlets and soft waves with less volume for a more natural effect here in 2022.

But the biggest questions people are asking about perms have to do with color.  Can you dye permed hair? Can you highlight your permed hair? What about getting a perm and a color service at the same time? Can you perm hair that’s already dyed or visa versa? Let’s get into some answers about perming and hair coloring.

a beautiful woman with highlighted permed hair

How Do Perms Work?

Imagine your hair made up of tiny, connected molecules that can create a shape depending on how they are attached. In its most basic form, a perm occurs when your natural hair bonds are broken and then reformed with chemicals into a different shape. This alteration is permanent and produces a lot of impact on the hair. Your hair-care routine will be vital to the health of your hair after a perm.

Can You Do a Perm and Color at the Same Time?

You can’t get a perm done at the same time as a color service, and it’s not recommended at all to both a perm and highlight the hair on the same day.

With highlights, there is a chemical activator that opens the cuticle of your hair to let in the bleach. The bleach goes to work on your color pigments, altering them by breaking them down. Color services differ from highlights in that molecules are deposited into the hair or on top of it to create a new tone. Both chemical services work at deep levels in the hair, which is why they aren’t compatible with a perm on the same day.

If you do both treatments at the same time, the hair color may turn out differently than expected and is usually a bit lighter than indicated on the package. Color may also fade faster than normal. This happens because the cuticles can’t close properly to seal the color. Neither the curls nor the color would turn out the way you wanted.

curly hair woman with long permed hair

How Long After a Perm Can You Dye Your Hair?

You should wait at least two weeks after perming service to dye your hair.

The reason for getting your perm first has to do with the integrity of your hair. You will want to see how well your hair reacts to these chemicals and what kind of condition it’s left in. If it’s healthy, you can move forward with a color service two weeks or more down the road. It’s not, however, recommended to do color or highlight services in conjunction with a perm. This waiting is necessary because perm and permanent dyes contain strong chemicals. Coloring your hair right after permanent waving could overprocess your hair and make it susceptible to damage.

Can You Apply Semi-Permanent Color After a Perm?

Even if you use a semi-permanent dye, it is not recommended to dye your hair immediately after the perm service.

After a perm, the hair is very porous, and it is necessary to wait at least a week for the cuticles to settle down. Overly porous hair won’t absorb semi-permanent color evenly. Semi-permanent dyes won’t damage hair because they only deposit color without involving strong chemicals. However, the outcome probably wouldn’t be what you had expected.

How Long Should You Wait After a Perm to Get Highlights?

You should wait at least two weeks after a perm to apply highlights to your hair.

Highlights involve the use of bleach, which can damage permed hair and leave it overly porous.  It is recommended that chemical treatments performed in a short time frame should be performed only by a professional cosmetologist.

But there are still ways to get both a perm and a highlighted look – highlighted hair extensions.

Use the perm to create the curl pattern you want, then if you’re happy with your perm, go get highlighted extensions! It’s the perfect solution for people who want the texture of a perm with the highlights of their dreams. But make sure to work with a trained extension expert for the best results.

beautiful blonde with permed hair

Can You Perm Colored or Highlighted Hair?

If your hair is overly bleached or damaged from frequent color services, you are not a good candidate for perm service.

Too many chemical treatments can result in severe hair damage, split ends, and breakage. It is also possible that a perm would make hair a bit lighter looking. After dyeing, your hair needs a rest. Also, make sure to do a chunk test before perming service. It is always advisable to consult a hair professional before using any sort of chemical treatment on your hair.

Nowadays, there are mild perms formulated for colored hair. Carefully read the label to ensure that the product is meant for color-treated hair.

In recent years, with the revolution of bond restoration treatments such as Olaplex, it is possible to do permanent waving on recently dyed hair. Olaplex restorative treatment is applied by a hair professional to prepare hair for perm service. Olaplex allows hairstylists to do multiple chemical treatments with minimal damage.

Modern Perms

Modern perm formulas are gentler and ammonia-free. The curlers are larger and vary in size. This way you can get loose curls that vary in size and look more natural. You can choose between beach waves, spiral curls or just to get more volume and texture for longer-lasting hairstyles. Modern perms are less damaging to hair and last shorter than traditional perms. Your hair will grow out nicely without being too obvious.

If you haven’t heard of the viral hair trend that involves a perm on medium-length men’s hair (cheekily coined “the merm”), then you’re welcome. Now you have heard about it.

What’s incredible about this trend isn’t so much that men get perms, but that perms have always found a way to stay relevant.

a young man with merm hairstyle

Disclaimer: All content on this blog is created for informational purposes only. It would be best if you didn’t use it as a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Last Updated on September 11, 2022 by Gaga

About the author

gaga@softerhair.com | Website | + posts

Gaga is a blogger and founder of the Softer Hair website. She often says that insomnia is to blame for her first blogging attempts. Being the night owl, she hated the morning alarm. She left her office job and returned to what she loved most - writing.

 

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