How Long Does A Perm Last? + Tips To Maintain Your Perm

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase.
brunette hair tightly wrapped in perm rods

Although the word perm stems from the word permanent, most perms only last 3 to 6 months. 

The reason for this is that as new hair grows in, the old perm grows out and can begin to loosen. 

The chemicals used in a perm also cause some damage to the hair, making it more difficult to hold a curl over time. 

To make your perm last as long as possible, it is important to take good care of your hair and use the right products.

Keep on reading to know how to make your perm last longer.

Why Do People Get a Perm?

Most people get a perm because they want to change their hair texture or add curl definition. Others want to experiment with a new look without having to use harsh chemicals. 

Basically, people have their hair curled because they want to look good. There are different types of perms that can be done on your hair, and each one will give you a different look.

Depending on the size of the rollers used, and how much processing time is given, the end result will be different. 

For example, if you use large rollers, you’ll end up with looser waves. If you use small rollers or process your hair for a longer amount of time, you’ll have tighter curls.

How Does a Perm Work?

A perm is a treatment that uses chemicals to break and reform the bonds in your hair. 

This results in permanently curled or wavy hair, which can be a great option if you’re looking for a change that will last.

The process begins with winding your hair around rods. Then, a perm solution is applied to break down the inner bonds of your hair. 

Once these bonds are broken, your hair can be reshaped into curls, waves, or whatever style you desire. 

After the new shape is set with more chemicals, neutralizers are used to restore your hair’s pH levels and stop the perm process.

How Long Does a Perm Last?

Perms can last 3 to 6 months, but the answer isn’t as straightforward as you think. 

The lifespan of your perm will depend on several factors, such as the quality of the perm solution used. 

How well you take care of your hair after the perm and even your natural hair type also contribute to the success of your curling treatment.. 

In general, though, you can expect a good perm to last anywhere from four to six months.

Just like getting a straightening treatment, like a keratin treatment or Brazilian blowout, getting a perm is a big commitment. 

You’re essentially changing the structure of your hair, so you have to be very careful about how you treat it afterwards.

You have to use the right products and take the proper steps to boost the longevity of your perm. 

It’s best to ask your stylist for their professional opinion on how to take care of your hair after a perm.

These days, men and women can enjoy permed hair. If you’re wondering, “how long does a perm last for guys?,” it still depends on the aftercare.

Related: 10 Best Shampoos & Conditioners for Permed Hair

Types of perms based on technique:

There are various types of perms today. They’re differentiated based on technique and style.

Digital Perm

A digital perm is characterized by the use of hot rods that are plugged into a digital machine.

The size and shape of the hot rods, as well as the temperature and time settings on the machine, will dictate the amount of curl achieved with a digital perm.

Digital perms last anywhere from 3 to 6 months, with 4 months being the average. 

However, how often you wash your hair, how you style it, and whether or not you use heat styling tools will all play a role in how long your perm lasts.

The use of high heat for this technique can make hair more susceptible to damage afterwards. As such, your hair might need more pampering.

Cold Perm

On the other hand, a cold perm involves the use of plastic rods.

The solution is applied to your hair, and the plastic rods are then wrapped around it. After that, your hair is blow-dried until it’s completely dry.

Cold perms last anywhere between 3 and 6 months. They also use an alkaline solution, which is less damaging to your locks.

Nonetheless, it’s still important to take care of your hair after a cold perm. This is because the solution used can still cause some damage, albeit not as much as with other types of perms.

hair stylist putting in perm rods in customers hair

Types of perms based on style:

Spiral Perm

If you want a perm that will give you tighter, more voluminous curls, then a spiral perm is the right choice for you. 

This type of perm uses larger rods than traditional perms and can create tighter or looser curls, depending on your preference. 

Spiral perms also tend to last about 3-6 months.

Body Wave Perm

A body wave perm is a type of perm that can give you loose, natural-looking waves. 

The curls are usually less defined than with other types of perms and can last anywhere from four to six months—though how often you wash your hair will affect how long it lasts. 

You’ll need to use a mild shampoo and avoid heat styling to prolong the life of your perm.

Beach Wave Perm

A beach wave perm is perfect for summertime or for those who want a relaxed look. 

This type of perm uses smaller rollers that create loose curls. The end result is wavy, natural-looking hair with lots of texture. 

Depending on your hair’s length and thickness, a beach wave perm can last anywhere from four to six months.

Its primary difference between body wave and beach wave perms is that the former is done with bigger rollers to achieve more prominent and longer-lasting waves.

Meanwhile, the latter uses smaller rollers to create looser, more natural-looking curls.

Pin Curl Perm

A pin curl perm is a type of perm that uses pinks or very small rollers to produce tight, well-defined curls.

This type of perm is often used to create vintage styles, such as the classic “pin up” look.

A pin curl perm typically lasts around 3 to 6 months, although this can vary depending on how well you take care of your hair and the type of product you use.

Spot or Partial Perm

A spot or partial perm isn’t that common, but it’s a perm that only affects certain sections of your hair. 

It can be used to add volume to limp hair or curl straight hair without creating an overall curly look. 

Because the chemicals are only applied to small sections, spot perms last about three to four months.

This is beneficial for people who have damaged hair because the chemicals will only be applied to a small portion of your hair.

Factors Affecting How Long Perms Last in Your Hair

As mentioned, the longevity of curling treatments depends on various factors, such as:

Hair Type

You may have noticed how some people’s perms seem to last for months, while others start to see their curl pattern loosening after just a few weeks. 

One of the main factors influencing how long your perm will last is your hair type.

If you have thick hair, your perm will likely not last as long as it would in fine or thin hair. This is because the natural heaviness of the hair tends to pull out the curls and cause them to lose their shape sooner.

The same is true for frizzy hair — the more frizz you have, the shorter your perm will last.

Perm Technique and Style

Girl with permed blonde hair

There are many perm techniques and styles available, which can affect how long your perm lasts. 

For example, a loose spiral perm won’t last as long as a tight pin curl perm. This is because the tighter the curls, the more they will hold their shape and last over time.

Hair Growth Rate

The average person’s hair grows about 6 inches per year. 

This means that the new growth from your last perm will start to show within 6-8 weeks. The old, permed hair will slowly be replaced by the new growth. 

If you have fast-growing hair, you may see new growth sooner. 

If your hair grows slower, it may take longer for the perm to start loosening.

Hair Care Routine

The type of shampoo, conditioner, and styling products you use on your permed hair will affect how long the perm lasts. 

Sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners are best to prolong the life of your perm. Avoid using heat styling tools as much as possible to prevent damaging your perm.

Knowing the right way to care for your treated hair is essential for making your perm last. 

Be sure to ask your stylist for tips on how to take care of your new perm before you leave the salon.

How to Make Your Perm Last for Longer: Keep Your Perm from Straightening Out

These are the steps to make your perm last longer:

Schedule a Trim Regularly

If you want to keep your perm looking its best, schedule a trim every six to eight weeks. This will help prevent split ends and keep your hair looking healthy.

Shampoo Less But Condition More

The key to keeping your perm from straightening out is to shampoo less but condition more. This way, your perm will stay hydrated and bouncy for longer. 

When you do shampoo, use a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo to avoid stripping away the natural oils that help keep your perm looking its best.

Use a Microfiber Towel and Silk Pillowcases

To help your perm last, use a microfiber towel to dry your hair after shampooing. 

You can also sleep on a silk pillowcase. This will help keep your hair from tangling and prevent your perm from straightening out while you sleep.

Must-Have Products for Modern Perms

Some products I recommend when caring for permed hair:

Royal Locks-Clean Curls Shampoo - A Sulfate-Free Shampoo

The Royal Locks-Clean Curls Shampoo contains natural oils and extracts that help to keep your scalp healthy and your hair looking shiny and manageable.

It's designed specifically for curled hair to lock in moisture and keep your perm looking fresh.


  • Sulfate, paraben, and cruelty-free
  • Contains argan and macadamia oil
  • Safe for color-treated hair

This sulfate-free shampoo provides definition, hold, and softness to curled locks.


Curlsmith Double Cream Deep Quencher - A Deep Conditioner

This deep conditioner is packed with moisture-rich ingredients like avocado oil and apricot kernel oil to help hydrate and nourish your strands. 

Its thick and buttery texture brings intense hydrating goodness to even the most parched of curls, without weighing them down.


  • Vegan
  • Sulfate, silicone, phthalates, and mineral oil-free
  • Contains aloe, sage, rosemary, pepper, and basil extracts

It’s inspired by generations of hair remedies made from natural ingredients. This product is formulated to help permed hair look shiny and healthy.


Nexxus Curl Define Leave-in Conditioner - A Styling Product

Nexxus’ Curl Define Leave-in Conditioner is a curl-enhancing leave-in that not only provides much-needed moisture but also facilitates seamless styling of permed hair.

It hydrates your hair and controls frizz for a more defined look.


  • Infuses silk protein to hair
  • Contains Marula oil
  • Strengthens hair

This leave-in conditioner can serve as a daily touch-up for curly or permed hair.


Bumble and Bumble Curl Defining Creme - A Curl-Protecting Cream

This curl-defining creme is lightweight and defines curls without making them crunchy. It can prolong the effects of your perm.

It serves to protect curls from heat and, thus, gives your curls more definition.


  • Contains UV inhibitors
  • Protects against the sun’s drying effects
  • Promotes definition and movement of curls

It contains a blend of styling polymers and oils to help seal in moisture, define curls and combat frizz. 



FAQs: More Questions about Caring for Permed Hair

Can a Perm Expire?

The perm activator solution can expire. Most expire within six months to a year.

However, the effects of a perm last about three to six months. It may slowly loosen or change over time.

This is because the new texture of your hair is gradual. It can take a few weeks for your hair to adjust to the changes and for the chemicals to completely wash out.

How Long Does a Perm Last with Thin Hair?

Thin or fine hair is often thought to be difficult to perm, but this isn’t always the case. In fact, perms work well on all types of hair, as long as you use the right products.

You just need to be extra careful when perming thin hair so there is less damage.

Consider getting a spot perm or doing a perm on a test strand first to see how your hair reacts.

How Long Does a Perm Last on a Male?

While male hair perms have been growing in popularity, the average lifespan of a perm for men is still only about six to eight weeks or even shorter.

This is due to the fact that male hormones cause the hair to grow faster. 

Additionally, men also usually cut their hair more often, which removes the permed hair.

Thinking of Getting a Perm?

You May Also Like:


  • Marijim Timkang
  • Madeline Hall

    With ten years in hairstyling, Madeline Hall has trained with elite colorists Naomi Knight and Lupe Voss and assisted celebrity stylist Alex Chases. From building a solid clientele at San Francisco's Code Salon to impressing Nashville's finest, Madeline is a force in the industry. Passionate about educating clients and staying updated on trends.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *