Ah, you’ve just gotten a perm done or you’re thinking of getting one.
Either way, you’re wondering if hair dye will ruin a perm or cause a lot of hair damage.
As someone who’s spent countless hours in a hair salon chair, I understand how informed we have to be before we get something done.
Because if our hair gets damaged, it can take a long time to recover.
Or worse, we’ll end up having to grow it out.
So, I wrote this post for anyone who wants to understand everything about coloring their hair after a perm.
So let’s dive into this topic and explore the ins and outs of perming and dyeing hair afterward.
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I’m going to just cover a few basic points before I get to the good stuff.
What is a perm?
A perm (short for permanent wave) is a chemical treatment that changes the structure of the hair to create curls or waves that will easily last for several months.
It involves applying a solution (usually ammonium thioglycolate) to the hair that breaks down the hair’s natural bonds (the disulfide bonds)and then reshapes the hair with a curling rod.
Once the hair has been set, a neutralizer (hydrogen peroxide) is applied to reform the hair’s bonds and lock in the curl or wave pattern. This is the final chemical step.
It reforms disulfide bonds and the hair takes the shape of the rods.
This is the whole process of a perm.
It does leave the hair a little dry and brittle.
I need you to understand this because I am going to explain why certain hair coloring methods will be too harsh.
If you overburden your hair with chemical treatments after getting a perm, you could damage your hair or even the roots – and this is not easy to recover from.
Let’s get into dying your hair after a perm.
Will hair dye ruin the perm?
This really depends on what type of hair dye you’re using and when you’re using it.
For a few days after the perm, the chemicals are still working on your hair and setting the perm.
So, you need to be careful when doing yet another treatment.
If you are going to use temporary or semi-permanent hair dyes then you’re not going to damage your hair.
If you use permanent hair dye, yes – it will damage the perm and ultimately add a lot of stress to your hair.
Permanent hair dyes contain a lot of hydrogen peroxide (since a perm uses this as a naturalized), the additional use of hydrogen peroxide in a permanent hair dye is going to make your hair very dry and frizzier.
The chemicals in hair dye can weaken the bonds that hold the curls or waves in place and this can cause the curl pattern to become more loose or uneven.
This is why it is often recommended to wait for at least 2 weeks after a perm so that you give your hair enough time to heal and recover from the perm.
Another option is to use a semi-permanent dye.
These dyes are gentler on the hair and won’t cause as much damage as a permanent hair dye.
They also fade more quickly which is a good thing if you’re not sure about committing to a new hair color.
Let me elaborate on this.
How soon can I color my hair after a perm?
Please wait at least 2 weeks after a perm before you color your hair.
This will give the perm enough time to set and will give your hair some time to breathe and recover from the neutralizer so that it can start healing and recovering from the damage.
After 2 weeks, you can consider coloring your hair and preferably go with a semi-permanent hair dye or a temporary hair color to minimize damage completely.
Should I dye my hair before or after a perm?
My honest suggestion is to get the perm first, wait for 2+ weeks and then dye your hair with a semi-permanent hair color.
Doing the perm first will raise the cuticles and help the hair take the color well.
The semi-permanent hair color should not be lighter than your hair color, because you don’t want to bleach your hair (the lightening process will damage your hair) – you want the color to sit on top of the hair so it needs to be dark or almost the same color.
There are also a few factors to consider first.
- Please note that both hair dye and perm solutions can cause damage to your hair. That’s why it’s not recommended to perform both treatments at the same time or too close together – this can increase the risk of hair damage.
- If you do decide to dye your hair before the perm, you have to make sure that your hair is in good condition and not overly damaged. If your hair is dry and brittle due to the bleaching solution, the perm solution can make your dyed hair more prone to breakage. To minimize damage, you need to allow your hair to regain some of its strength and elasticity (by deep conditioning regularly) before subjecting it to a perm.
- Different brands and different dye and perm solutions have different strengths. You have to check with your hairstylist and see what your hair texture is and how much chemical processing it can actually take. This is something only a professional hair stylist will know. Seeing your hair, they will guide you regarding what chemicals and strengths to use.
I have damaged my hair before by doing too many things too close together and it has not been worth it.
I relaxed my hair and bleached it very close together and the result was intense hair fall.
My hair fell out in clumps and I was scared because I couldn’t leave the house. I had bald patches.
It was a nightmare and luckily my hair recovered.
But my roots did suffer from damage and my hair texture has become coarse in some parts.
It’s been years and I’ve had to do deep conditioning for years to reverse the damage.
This is why I am very particular about doing the research before getting any chemical treatment done.
Can I dye my hair a week after a perm if I use semi-permanent dye?
No. I wouldn’t suggest that.
Please wait at least 2 weeks before dying your hair.
Semi-permanent hair dye is definitely more gentle and mild as compared to permanent hair dye but it still contains chemicals that can potentially damage your hair, especially if it has been recently permed.
Additionally, the perm may affect how the hair dye takes to your hair, potentially causing uneven or unpredictable results.
If you really want the color to show beautifully and you want your hair to be soft, manageable, and bouncy, please wait at least 2 weeks.
Even then, check with a professional hair stylist and see if your hair is in a condition to be dyed.
Can I use a box dye and color my hair at home after a perm?
Wait 2 weeks before you consider using a box dye.
When you decide to dye your hair, do a strand test to see if your hair can tolerate the color.
I suggest taking a small clump of hair underneath, mixing a tiny amount of color, and applying it to the test strand.
Allow it to process for the complete processing time, rinse and see how the color is holding.
If your test strand looks good and the hair is showing minimal damage, go ahead with the whole set of hair.
Can I just touch up my roots?
Yes. If you are only trying to cover your greys, then you can use a permanent color on the new growth, while avoiding the rest of the hair.
But again, please wait 2 weeks.
I hope this post gave you some good information and that you are now informed about what to do.
If you still have doubts or you’re not sure whether your hair can take any more chemicals, please check with a hair professional.
Everybody’s hair texture and hair strength are different.
The health of your hair is super important so it’s best to check with a hairstylist.
Here are a few more posts that you may find helpful:
- 13 big no-nos after a perm! Everything you need to know
- 5 ways to get rid of a perm you hate without cutting your hair
- Can I get braids after a perm? How long should I wait?
- Can you get braids with relaxed hair? How to prep for braids
- How to tell if someone has a perm vs real curls
- 9 Easy Ways to Keep Twists from Unraveling
- 5 Steps to Revive Second-Day Curls (Quickly and Easily)
- 9 Surefire Ways to Tell if Someone has a Perm (vs Real Curls)
- Thin Hair After Hair Extensions? How to Recover and Grow It Back
- Bored with Your Hair? 11 Impulsive Things to Do to Your Hair
- 21 Bold and Funky Hair Colors for Short Hair (+Photos)
- 9 Reasons Why Your Curly Hair is Becoming Wavy (+How to Fix it)
- 7 Real Reasons Why Your Hair is Getting Shorter Without Cutting It
- Why Your Hair is Stiff After Flat Ironing – 9 Mistakes to Avoid