It’s natural for those born with straight hair to occasionally want voluminous, bodied curls. The good news is that modern hair technologies like perming solutions make it possible. One quick trip to the salon, and you’ll be flaunting big, gorgeous curls.
But if you have colored hair that’s been bleached before, it’s not that simple. Getting a perm won’t be easy, since your hair has already gone through a lot during the bleaching process.
It could be risky putting your hair through another chemical process, even if it is in the name of beauty.
So, can you perm bleached hair? Let’s find out.
Hair Damage From Bleach And Perms
Any chemical process done to your hair can disrupt its structure and composition, therefore dealing a degree of damage to your strands.
Bleaching is one of the most detrimental of these processes.
To lighten your hair, bleach breaks down your strands’ cuticles.
It creates gaps and holes in your hair to allow your natural pigment to escape, leaving your hair with a lighter shade.
It also destroys those fatty acids that keep your hair silky smooth, leaving it rough to the touch.
So, while you do get the hue you want, you’re left with weaker, drier, and more lackluster hair because of the harsh chemical process.
See: Does Bleaching Your Hair Damage It Forever?
Many women go through a mourning phase after bleaching their hair.
What once was a soft, supple, shiny mane will turn dry and straw-like in texture – tell-tale signs of severely damaged and fried hair.
After bleaching your hair, it’s likely going to feel so brittle and dry that you wouldn’t dare think to do another chemical process on it right away – like say, perming.
Perming your hair is the process of adding a permanent wave or curl to your strands using a perming solution.
This is a terrific way to try having curly hair for once.
However, since it uses chemicals too, it also deals some form of damage to your hair, even if it’s not as harsh as bleach.
Because perming solutions are super strong and potent, it’s recommended for virgin hair only.
Those with damaged hair – from bleach or excessing heat-styling – might run the risk of overprocessing their hair if they get it permed.
These two hair procedures yield completely different results.
But if there’s one thing they have in common, it’s that they damage the hair.
Can You Perm Bleached Hair?
So, can you perm bleached hair?
The short answer is yes, you can perm your hair even if it’s already bleached.
But here’s the caveat: you can’t do both processes on the same day.
Experts recommend that you wait at least a week or two after bleaching your hair to even assess whether it’s ready to get a perm.
When your hair is freshly bleached, it’s immensely dry, rough, and damaged.
If you expose it to a perming solution right away (or any other chemical service, for that matter), it might not be able to take it.
The worst-case scenario is your hair falls out or burns off because it’s in such a delicate state.
So, it’s important to take around two weeks between bleaching and perming your hair.
If you can, go even longer.
Wait several months until your hair has recovered from the bleach and is strong and moisturized again before getting those curls.
Sure, there are tons of gentler perming solutions designed specifically for color-treated hair.
But you still shouldn’t risk putting your locks through another chemical process if your bleach and color are fresh.
Perming your hair immediately after coloring can also lighten your shade a bit, rendering your bleach and color job useless.
Again, don’t risk it until your hair regains strength and moisture a few weeks after your bleaching process.
Plus, any reputable salon won’t agree to perm and bleach your hair in the same appointment anyway.
They know the risk of damaging your hair too much if they do it.
If your stylist agrees to do both on the same day, run as fast as you can.
How To Tell If Your Bleached Hair Is Ready For a Perm
When your two or so weeks are up, don’t just perm your hair immediately.
You still need to assess whether your hair is healed and healthy enough coming from the bleaching process to handle a perm properly.
The easiest way to do this is to book an appointment with a trusted stylist at a salon and ask them to assess whether your hair is ready.
But if you can’t be bothered, you can also do a DIY porosity test on your hair at home to check on its health.
Take a strand of your hair and drop it in a glass of water.
Wait a full minute or two.
Look where the hair ends up.
If it soaks up the water and sits at the bottom of the glass, it means it’s insanely porous and fragile, aka still severely damaged.
But if it floats to the surface of the water, it means it’s less porous now.
Its cuticles are laying flat, like they should be, which is a sign that it’s getting stronger and more moisturized than before.
This might be a promising sign that your hair is ready to get a perm already.
Try to give an honest assessment of your hair too before you even think about getting a perm.
Does your bleached hair feel at least a little softer and smoother than it did after the bleaching process?
Does it shed less now, and does it bounce more?
If you think your hair looks and feels healthier and is ready to take on a chemical process again, do one final check-up with your stylist to get their opinion.
If they give you their go signal, you’re ready to get those curls you’ve always desired.
Recommended Post: How To Make Bleached Hair Soft And Silky
What Happens If You Don’t Wait Long Enough Before Perming Bleached Hair?
If you perm your bleached hair too early, while it’s still healing, there are a bunch of consequences your precious hair might face.
See, if your hair is still at its worst and you expose it immediately to perming solutions without moisturizing and strengthening it first, the chemical damage will only get worse.
Sure, it might look okay when you first get your perm done.
But you might notice a few days after that the curls don’t hold and you’re back to straight, lifeless hair.
That’s because you overprocessed your hair, and overprocessed hair means not being able to hold texture properly.
Hair Can’t Hold A Curl
When your hair is so damaged from chemical processes, it will be so lifeless and broken down that it won’t be able to maintain a style.
So, not only will your hair be so rough, brittle, and dehydrated, but the perm itself won’t even be effective in giving you gorgeous curls.
It’s a lose-lose situation.
You can also expect frizz and tangles in your hair if you perm and bleach within a short timeframe.
Its texture might be a little weird too, whether it’s straw-like or extremely gummy.
Breakage And Shedding
Another effect of overprocessing if you perm your bleached hair without waiting two weeks is the possibility of breakage and shedding.
Your hair is already brittle from the bleach.
If you couple it with another strong chemical like a perming solution, your strands might not be able to take it.
Your hair can break off in the middle of the strand, leaving you with split or ragged ends and an uneven hair length.
You might be thinking, “If my hair gets over-damaged, I’ll just moisturize it to repair it!”
But it’s not that simple.
If you overprocess your hair, it will also have an extremely difficult time retaining moisture.
Even the most nourishing treatments might not be enough to nourish your hair if your strands become so porous and weak that they can’t even absorb moisture properly.
Important Tips When Perming Bleached Hair
In the weeks leading up to your perm, use deep conditioning treatments to moisturize your hair.
This can also help fill in the gaps and holes in your hair strands left behind by your bleaching process, making it stronger and more receptive to the perming solution later on.
However, don’t use intensive conditioners the day before your perm service.
You don’t want any build-up blocking the solution from penetrating and working its magic on your soon-to-be curly hair.
Then, you have to choose whether you want to do a home perm by yourself or go to a salon to have it done by a professional.
Gentle Perming Solution
If you want to DIY it, make sure to use a gentle perming solution.
Make sure you time each step of the perming process according to the instructions.
Leaving chemicals in your hair for longer than necessary can contribute to the overall damage, which your hair is already suffering from post-bleach.
However, I highly recommend going to a salon to get your perm done.
Not only will it come out looking better, but a professional will know exactly how to handle bleached hair.
Your locks are sensitive and delicate right now, so it’s best to leave your perm to the experts.
When your stylist assesses your hair, be honest with them.
Don’t try to beat the system by lying about how long it’s been since you bleached your hair.
Tell them all the necessary history and timelines about your hair’s bleaching and coloring jobs so that they know how to care for your locks throughout the perming process.
If you don’t, it’s you and your hair that will suffer later on.
Before you get a perm, ask your stylist to trim your split ends.
That way, you won’t have to expose the worst parts of your hair to more chemicals.
This lessens the damage and chances of breakage overall.
Taking Care Of Your Hair Post-Perm
Being mindful of your bleached hair after you get it permed is just as important as getting the service done.
As always, you need to follow the golden rule of perming: don’t shampoo your hair for at least 48 hours following the perm.
If you do, your curls might not be as tight and defined.
Then comes what is arguably the most important part of post-perm hair care: moisturizing.
Feeding your hair the right levels of moisture can help repair the damage brought upon by the bleach and perm procedures.
So, it’s important to use shower products that can hydrate the hair deeply.
For an ultra-nourishing hair wash day, use the OGX Nourishing + Coconut Milk Shampoo & Conditioner.
Both products are sulfate-free, so they’re safe on processed hair.
This rich and creamy shampoo and conditioner are infused with coconut oil, coconut milk, and egg white protein to deeply moisturize and repair dry, damaged locks.
Together, these ingredients leave the hair soft and bouncy.
Products With Protein
Aside from moisture, you should also try to incorporate more protein into your routine.
Protein can help fortify your damaged strands again, making them more elastic and resilient to breakage.
The protein fills up the holes in your cuticles, making your hair strands strong once more.
You can always go for a protein-infused deep conditioning treatment once a week.
But my favorite protein product for hair repair is still the Alterna Caviar Restructuring Bond Repair Leave-In Protein Cream.
This luxurious leave-in cream is made with caviar and keratin, both of which help to rebuild the bonds of your hair that were broken by bleach and perming solution.
It helps reduce breakage while moisturizing your locks (thanks to the fatty acids found in caviar extract) without weighing them down or leaving them feeling greasy.
If you’ve been asking yourself “Can you perm bleached hair?”, then this article has answered all your questions.
To recap, it is possible to perm your hair even after it’s been bleached.
The golden rule is simple: you must wait about two weeks before coming in to get the perm.
That way, your hair has enough time to heal and recuperate after a stripping, drying chemical process like bleaching.
People with no prior knowledge of how chemicals like bleach and perming solutions can hurt the hair might make the mistake of using both on the same day.
Needless to say, improper planning of your coloring and curling sessions might lead to a lot of hair damage.
Make sure to plan your salon appointments accordingly.
And once you have your hair permed to your liking, remember to care for your hair to nurse it back to health.
Moisture, protein, and gentleness are all it needs, and you’ll be rocking light, healthy, curly locks again in no time.