Perm or Color First: A Guide to Making the Right Decision

Deciding to change up your hairstyle can be an exciting and transformative experience. Whether you are looking to add some vibrant color or embrace luscious curls, Jen Hair knows that deciding to go for a perm or change your hair color can be tough. Should you perm or color first, or vice versa? It is a dilemma that many individuals face when seeking a fresh look.

This guide will help you navigate the perm versus color concern and highlight the factors you should consider before deciding.

Should you perm or color first, or vice versa? It is a dilemma that many individuals face when seeking a fresh look. (Source: Softer Hair)
Should you perm or color first, or vice versa? It is a dilemma that many individuals face when seeking a fresh look. (Source: Softer Hair)

What Are Hair Perm And Color?

  • A hair perm

A hair perm, short for permanent wave, is a chemical process that alters the structure of your hair to create long-lasting curls or waves. It involves the application of a solution, typically containing chemicals like ammonium thioglycolate, to break and reform the disulfide bonds in your hair. 

After applying the solution, your hair is wrapped around rods or rollers to achieve the desired curl pattern. The solution is then rinsed out, and a neutralizer is applied to set the new shape of your hair. The result is hair that retains its curls or waves even after washing.

After applying the solution, your hair is wrapped around rods or rollers to achieve the desired curl pattern. (Source: The Right Hairstyles)
After applying the solution, your hair is wrapped around rods or rollers to achieve the desired curl pattern. (Source: The Right Hairstyles)
  • Hair coloring

Hair coloring is the process of changing the natural color of your hair using hair dyes or color treatments. Hair coloring offers many possibilities, whether you want to cover up gray hair or completely transform your look with a new shade. 

Hair color products can be permanent, semi-permanent, or temporary. Permanent hair color penetrates the hair shaft, altering the natural pigment and providing long-lasting results. Semi-permanent color coats the hair shaft, gradually fading over time. On the other hand, temporary color sits on the hair’s surface and can be easily washed out with shampoo.

Hair coloring is the process of changing the natural color of your hair using hair dyes or color treatments. (Source: Vogue India)
Hair coloring is the process of changing the natural color of your hair using hair dyes or color treatments. (Source: Vogue India)

While both hair treatments result in some damage, it is crucial to prioritize proper preparation and aftercare for optimal hair health. However, when comparing the two, coloring your hair generally poses a higher risk of causing overall damage than perming.

Should I Perm Or Color First?

It is recommended to perm your hair before coloring it. It is important to wait at least two weeks between getting a perm and coloring your hair. This waiting period is crucial because the oxidizer and neutralizer used in the perming process can interfere with the color deposit if done too soon.

If you color your hair before getting a perm, the perm can quickly fade the color and cause damage to your hair.

Conversely, if you decide to perm your hair before coloring, be aware that the newly formed curls or waves will loosen after the coloring process if you do not allow sufficient time between treatments. Patience is key to achieving the desired waves and colors.

It is recommended to perm your hair before coloring it. (Source: Meridian Colleg)
It is recommended to perm your hair before coloring it. (Source: Meridian Colleg)

How Long After A Perm To Color Your Hair?

It is recommended to prioritize perming your hair first and then waiting for at least two weeks (fourteen days) before coloring it.

In cases where you are in a hurry, you might be able to manage a seven-day gap, but be aware that this increases the risk of hair loss and damage.

Since perm is a chemical treatment that can still cause some damage to your strands, it is essential to give your hair time to recover between perming and coloring.

After a perm, your hair becomes highly porous, so coloring it immediately can lead to uneven dye results and overprocessed, dry hair.

During this waiting period, you should treat and deeply condition your hair to support its recovery and restore it to its pre-perm health.

Look for haircare products that contain nourishing ingredients like argan oil and proteins such as biotin, hydrolyzed wheat proteins, or hydrolyzed silk proteins.

If your hair has suffered significant damage from the perm process, it is worth considering whether you should skip the coloring altogether. Allow your hair to fully recover following a bad perm to avoid issues like split ends, frizz, or dehydration.

The same waiting period of two weeks should also be observed before adding highlights to your hair, as the bleach used in the highlighting process can compound the damage to newly permed hair.

After a perm, your hair becomes highly porous, so coloring it immediately can lead to uneven dye results and overprocessed, dry hair. (Source: Hair Creations Dublin)
After a perm, your hair becomes highly porous, so coloring it immediately can lead to uneven dye results and overprocessed, dry hair. (Source: Hair Creations Dublin)

Is It Good To Perm And Color Hair On The Same Day?

Refrain perming and coloring your hair on the same day because combining these treatments simultaneously will leave you severely dry, damaged hair with frizz and split ends. In the worst-case scenario, you even experience hair loss.

When you undergo a perm, a neutralizer is applied to your hair to halt further perming and set the curls in place. The residue of this neutralizer remains on your hair for approximately 48 hours following the treatment.

Consequently, if you color your hair immediately after getting a perm, the color will not adhere properly to your strands. The outcome will differ from your expectations, and the color will fade faster than usual since the hair cuticles cannot close to seal in color.

It is also advisable to avoid using semi-permanent hair dye right after getting a perm. The perm increases your hair’s porosity, and overly porous hair will not absorb color evenly.

Likewise, it is best to avoid getting highlights on the same day as a perm. Highlights involve a chemical activator allowing bleach to penetrate the hair strands. Combining the damage caused by this activator with the chemicals used in the perm can overwhelm your hair, resulting in dry locks.

When you undergo a perm, a neutralizer is applied to your hair to halt further perming and set the curls in place. (Source: BeautySided)
When you undergo a perm, a neutralizer is applied to your hair to halt further perming and set the curls in place. (Source: BeautySided)

Perm or Color First – Care Tips For Permed Hair

Give it Time

Avoid washing your hair for the first 48 hours after perming. This crucial step ensures the perming process is not disrupted and the chemical neutralizer remains active.

Choose the Right Haircare

Look for post-perm haircare products, including shampoos and conditioners, specifically designed to restore moisture and hydration to permed hair. Opt for haircare products tailored for curly hair with nourishing ingredients like argan oil and proteins if those are unavailable. Avoid products containing sulfates or parabens before and after getting a perm.

Minimize Heat Styling

Since permed hair is more delicate, it is advisable to reduce the use of heated styling tools. If you must use them, apply a good heat-protectant spray beforehand. However, after getting a perm, it is best to take a break from curling tongs and similar tools for a while.

Sleep Silky

Switch to silk or satin pillowcases to minimize frizz and its impact on your hair. Alternatively, you can wear a silk or satin scarf or bonnet while sleeping to prevent tangling.

Avoid Chlorine and Saltwater

If you enjoy swimming, take precautions by wearing a swimming cap to shield your permed hair from chlorine in pools. It is also wise to keep your head above water when swimming in the ocean to avoid adverse effects on your perm.

Look for post-perm haircare products specifically designed to restore moisture and hydration to permed hair. (Source: Davines)
Look for post-perm haircare products specifically designed to restore moisture and hydration to permed hair. (Source: Davines)

Perm or Color First – Care Tips For Colored Hair

Opt for Proper Haircare

Just like with post-perm hair, it is crucial to use appropriate post-color haircare products to preserve the longevity of your new hair color. Look for shampoos and conditioners to protect and maintain hair color. At the very least, choose a low-sulfate shampoo for hair extensions, as it is less likely to cause rapid fading of your hair color.

Embrace Deep Conditioning

Whether you prefer deep conditioners or hair masks, using products that can deeply penetrate the hair shaft and provide hydration from within is important. Butter like shea butter and oils like coconut and castor oil are excellent choices. However, always select products suitable for your hair type to achieve the best results.

Minimize Heat Styling

Like newly permed hair, freshly colored hair is more susceptible to damage. Therefore, it is essential to avoid exposing it to excessive heat, whether from hairdryers or heated styling tools. 

Whenever possible, allow your hair to air dry to minimize the negative effects of heat. If using heat styling tools, always apply a specialized heat protectant for colored hair to prevent color fading.

Like newly permed hair, freshly colored hair is more susceptible to damage. (Source: Marchelle Salone)
Like newly permed hair, freshly colored hair is more susceptible to damage. (Source: Marchelle Salone)

In Conclusion

Should you perm or color first? Always start by perming your hair first and then wait for at least two weeks before proceeding with the coloring process.

Suppose you color your hair before perming it immediately. In that case, the perm can fade the new hair color, resulting in less vibrant results. Conversely, perming your hair before coloring it right away can cause the newly formed curls to loosen and potentially lose shape.

By following the proper sequence and allowing a sufficient gap between perming and coloring, you can achieve the desired outcome and ensure the best look.

Ultimately, if you are looking for high-quality hair wings, do not hesitate to contact Jen Hair for expert assistance and guidance.