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What Are the Pros and Cons of a Perm for Thick Hair?

By Anna B. Smith
Updated May 21, 2024
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A perm for thick hair can create beautiful, stylish curls in otherwise straight or slightly wavy hair, or it can cause extreme damage to the hair shafts and drop the curl quickly. The results of the interactions of the permanent chemicals with the hair is dependent, not on the thickness and volume of the hair, but on its texture. Hair should be thick and medium in texture, with slight elasticity, to receive this type of treatment. Fine, thick hair that breaks readily when wet is not a good candidate for a permanent.

Perming thick hair introduces new chemicals to the scalp which retexturizes hair. This process is usually accomplished by applying a perm solution to the hair, and wrapping it in a curling agent. A wide range of curling rods may be used for this process, ranging in size from thin to large, and may be wrapped from the tips of the hair back up to the scalp, or in reverse to create a spiral.

Other conditions which may affect the quality of the perm include the hair's texture and its elasticity. Thick hair may be coarse, normal, or very fine. Depending on its quality, the perm for thick hair with a coarse texture may take several hours to fully set, while fine hair may set quickly, but break easily when wound around the curling agents. Medium textured thick hair typically accepts permanent setting agents well, and the process can be completed in a minimum amount of time without damaging the hair.

Hair's elasticity can be determined by pulling on individual strands when the hair is wet. Hair that springs back into shape quickly without breaking will accept new curls easily, and can hold permanent setting agents without becoming damaged and snapping or splitting. If the strands break when pulled on while wet, the hair has a low amount of elasticity and may not be capable of holding curls for a long period of time or suited to this type of chemical treatment.

Individuals interested in adding a permanent to their hair should begin by consulting with a hair professional about their hair's current condition. The cons associated with a perm for thick hair which is fine or not elastic can include damaging the hair strands and breaking the hair unevenly. Those with thick, coarse hair must consider the possibility that the permanent setting agents will not hold as long as with other types of hair, causing them to reapply it more frequently.

There are many benefits to receiving a perm for thick hair that is elastic, healthy, and medium in texture. This type of hair usually accepts a curl readily, and will hold the setting agents for the expected amount of time an individual wants a perm. Any size of curl may be chosen to create tight, curly hair, or long body waves. A permanent can serve as product support in the hair, and a wide variety of styles may be ready in a matter of minutes with some light blow drying and styling product. Hair that has been treated with a permanent should be washed and moisturized regularly to maintain the style and avoid damaging the roots or hair shafts.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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