Perm Rod Sizes: Your Guide to Luscious Curls

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Have you wondered what you would look like with curly hair? A pretty hairdo can make you look and feel like a whole new you! 

different perm rod sizes placed in table

And with different perm rod sizes at your fingertips, getting the curls of your dreams isn’t hard to do nowadays!

Depending on the size you get, you can choose the look of your curls with ease.

In this article, we’ll take a look at what perm rods are and how they can help you achieve the exact type of curls you want.

Also, we’ll look at various perming rod sizes and types, which will affect the size and shape of the curls you’ll get when using each one.    

What Is a Perm?

Perm is short for “permanent hairstyle” or “permanent wave.” 

This is because perms, particularly those you get from salons, involve changing your hair’s structure and texture to add curls or waves to it. 

The change is achieved when chemicals like ammonium thioglycolate or glyceryl monothioglycolate are applied to the hair, which breaks the bonds in each strand to lock the hair into curls. 

Perm rods in different sizes are also used to hold the hair in place and give it its new curly shape. 

The results of a perm last for a long time, typically around three to six months. 

Perming Methods

The methods of perming your hair can also be classified as either digital or cold, depending on whether or not heat was applied in the process. 

a hairstylist perming a woman's hair

Cold and Hot Perms

Cold perms involve wrapping your hair in rods and adding a chemical solution to them, such as a reduction lotion with ammonium thioglycolate or an alkaline compound. 

Depending on the length and volume of your hair, the process of getting a cold perm may last about two to three hours. 

In hot perms, on the other hand, the rods are heated up, and chemicals are added too.

Cold perms produce tight ringlets. Hot perms result in looser, softer curls that can be adjusted to different styles or sizes that you want.

Digital Perms

Digital perms, on the other hand, involve applying a relaxing treatment to your hair, then winding your strands around perm rods to create curls.

The temperature of the perm rods is regulated by a machine with a digital display, hence the name of this perm type.

Depending on the length, volume, and type of your hair, the process of getting a digital perm may take up to four hours. 

The curls produced by digital perms are looser and wavier, so they tend to look more natural. 

Chemical-Free Alternatives to Perms

You can also get curls without using strong chemicals by using your perm rods together with hair mousse, hair gel, or a leave-in conditioner. 

You can do so by applying hair mousse, hair gel, or leave-in conditioner to your hair, using perm rods to form the curls, and then blow-drying it.

Just remember that the results won’t be as long-lasting as the ones you can get from a salon, so you’ll need to redo the process every time you want to enjoy curls in your hair!

What Are Perm Rods?

Perm rods, called hair rollers, are cylindrical-shaped plastic tools used to curl your hair. 

When using it, a portion of your hair is wrapped around a perm rod and left for some time to give your hair a curly appearance. 

These rods come with a clasp, so your hair is tightly coiled around them without unraveling until the time is right to let them loose.

These rods come in different colors and sizes, which will depend on the type of curl you want to achieve. 

Some can provide you with tight curls, while others can give you big or wavy ones. It all boils down to choosing the right size of perm rods to do the job. 

A group of perm lods laying on top of each other on a table.

What Are the Different Sizes of Perm Rods?

An infographic featuring perm rod sizes your guide to luscious curls such as the different sizes of perm rods and which perm rod size should you use for perm types

So what exactly are the different sizes of perm rods out there? They can be categorized into four sizes: small, medium, large, and jumbo. 

However, these four also have sub-categories of their own, as each one has exact sizes you can choose from. 

And these perm rod sizes also come in different colors to help you differentiate them from each other even more. 

Note that perm rod sizes and curl results are directly related to each other, so you’ll need to know which size of perm rods to pick to get the exact results that you want. 

Generally speaking, a smaller perm rod size means smaller, tighter curls. The larger the perm rod is, the looser and wavier the curl it’ll produce.

Small Perm Rods

If you want tight, flowing, kinky ringlets to show off a whole new you, then small perm rods are the perfect ones to pick to do the job. 

They have a half-inch diameter or less, so they’re the best pick if you have short hair. But they can also be used on medium or long hair.

Small perm rods come in the following sizes and colors:

  • 3/8 inch (yellow or blue) — The smallest perm rod size out there, this is used to achieve very tight, corkscrew-looking curls.

    Yellow and blue are both 3/8 inch, but the blue one is a bit thicker in the middle. If you’re after the tightest, firmest curl you can get, use the yellow one. 
  • 7/16 inch (pink) — This one produces tight curls; it can also be used on medium to long hair to produce spiral curls.
  • 1/2 inch (gray) — This can be used on any hair length to produce small, tight curls.  

Medium Perm Rods

Want curls that look looser and wavier than tight and kinky ringlets?

Medium perm rods can help with that! They are great to use on any length of hair.

Medium perm rods come in the following sizes and colors:

  • 9/16 inch (white) — This can help you achieve bouncy and wavy curls.
  • 5/8 inch (purple) — This is the perfect size to create springy, firm-looking curls on your hair. It’s great to use on any length of hair. 

Large Perm Rods

Large perm rods are the way to go for medium-sized curls with a lot of body and flow. 

Large perm rods come in the following sizes and colors:

  • 11/16 inch (sand) — This perm rod size can give you medium-sized curls with volume. It can be used on any hair length.
  • 12/16 inch (orange) — Depending on your hair length, using this size can either give you tight, medium-sized curls if your hair is medium-length or more casual waves if your hair is shorter. 

Jumbo Perm Rods

These perm rods measure over an inch in diameter.

If you have longer hair and you want looser curls, then using jumbo-sized perm rods is ideal since you have more space in the rod to wrap your hair around. 

Jumbo perm rods come in the following sizes and colors:

  • 1 1/16 inches (green) — This size is great to use for achieving perfectly bouncy curls on long hair.
  • 1 1/4 inches (black) — Use this size if you want to have luscious curls for your long hair. It can also add some body to your tresses if you have medium-length hair.
  • 1 3/8 inches (red) — This size adds body to medium and long hair.
  • 1 1/2 inches (brown) — The largest perm rod size available, this one is used only to give long hair a little more body.     

For a visual on what these perm rods look like and the curls they produce, you can refer to this video with a perm rod size chart:

Which Perm Rod Size Should You Use for Different Perm Types?

Remember that there are also different types of perms that you can choose from.

The look of your perm will depend on how the hair is treated and the perm rod sizes used, if there are any, to achieve the desired results. 

Wondering what perm rod sizes to use to achieve the looks of different perm types? We can give you some ideas below: 

  • Spiral perm — This perm uses small perm rods for tighter, springier, and bouncier curls.
  • Beach wave perm — This perm gives you slightly messy waves that are low-maintenance and perfect to wear to the beach! It uses large perm rods to achieve this.
  • Spot or partial perm — With this type of perm, only the ends or select areas of the hair are curled.

    The perm rod size it uses depends on the desired results; it may use small perm rods for smaller curls or bigger ones for more natural-looking curls. 
  • Stack perm — Also sometimes called disco wedge, this perm adds a retro ’70s curly look to your hair. The curls are more defined at the lower half portion of the hair, while the top remains straight.

    Different perm rod sizes may be used at the middle and lower sections of the hair to produce the curls, including small and large.
  • Multitextured perm — This perm yields effortless-looking waves in various sizes. Like stack perms, various sizes of perm rods are used for this. 
  • Volumizing perm — If you want large-sized, voluminous curls, this perm is for you. Large to jumbo perm rods are used for this perm type. 
A beautiful woman with curly hair posing on a brown background.

What Are the Different Types of Perm Rods?

Curling results don’t just depend on the perm rod size you use; they’re also determined by the type of perm rods you’re using. Perming rod types are determined by their shape. 

Here are the most common types of perm rods:

  • Straight — These perm rods have a uniform diameter from end to end. They are great to use for creating uniform-sized waves and curls.
  • Concave — These perm rods are thin in the middle and thicker at the ends. These are best to use to produce curls that are tighter at the center and looser at the ends.  
  • Bender — Like straight perm rods, bender rods have a uniform diameter throughout, but they can be bent to help you get the desired results. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Know What Perm Rod Size To Use?

Different perm rod sizes are suitable for different hair lengths. So choosing the right size depends on how long your hair is. 

Generally speaking, if you have longer hair, you’ll need to use a longer rod size for perming your hair as it will require more areas of the rod to wrap around. 

Meanwhile, short perm rods are suitable for short hair. 

Typically, medium perming rod sizes, however, are great to use regardless of your hair length, making them a versatile tool for you to use for getting great-looking curls.  

How Do You Use Perm Rods?

For do-it-yourself curls using perm rods, you can follow these steps:

  1. Start with damp hair.
  2. Separate your hair into smaller sections.
  3. Wrap a section of your hair around one perm rod, starting from one end and rolling your hair up to the other end.
  4. If you’re using chemicals to get curls, apply them on each lock and let them sit for 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing the solution off.
  5. If you’re not using chemicals, just wait until your hair dries out before you remove the rods. You can also use styling products like gel or mousse to lock your curls into place. 

You can also watch this video tutorial on how to use perm rods:

Can Perm Rods Damage Hair?

Using just the perm rods alone to curl your hair may not cause damage to your hair, as you won’t be using heat or chemicals to achieve your desired look.

Since the chemicals in perms are the ones that alter the structure of your hair to curl it, it’s the process of perming itself that may cause some damage to your hair over time, not necessarily the use of perm rods.   

Can You Sleep With Perm Rods?

Yes! Sleeping with perm rods on your hair is a great way to let the perm rods curl your hair the entire time you’re sleeping, allowing you to remove them the next morning and rock those curls all day. 

You may need to take precautions when sleeping with perm rods, as you wouldn’t want to wake up with smushed or flattened curls the next day!

Different Perm Rod Sizes for Glorious Perms

Getting awesome-looking curls doesn’t need to be so difficult! That’s why perm rods are a person’s best friend in achieving the best results.

Choosing the right perm rod size is critical, especially if you’re after specific-looking curls to rock.  

So once you’ve decided on what type of curls you want, just grab the appropriate perm rod, and you’re well on your way to rocking the curls of your dreams! 

Want To Read More About Perms?

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  • Ashley Pena

    Ashley Pena brings over 13 years of seasoned writing and editing expertise, fortified by her Bachelor of Science in Management. Esteemed in the beauty domain, her content captivates readers with its depth and authenticity. While she navigates a broad spectrum of beauty trends, Ashley shines particularly as our resident K-beauty guru. Her articles are a harmonious blend of passion and profound knowledge, inspiring readers on their unique beauty journeys.

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  • 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.

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