Are Perms Bad For Your Hair? It All Depends On Your Hair History

Perms aren't what they used to be in the '80s. Rather than crunchy, back-combed spirals that will poof out into a frizzy ball, perms are offering easy beach waves that look air dried and salt-sprayed. You can now look like you woke up with Victoria's Secret hair rather than a Dynasty coif, which means the technique is officially back on the table for 2018. But are perms bad for your hair?

During a time when beauty lovers are trying to cut back on chemicals and are super conscious of keeping their hair away from damage and breakage, is globbing on large amounts of chemicals onto your strands good for your tresses? Or are you going to be left with irreversible damage that will cause you to chop off all of your hair into a bob once you get tired of the look?

Much like how hair feels brittle and wispy after one too many bleach jobs, can perms create the same damage? It turns out, it's not that simple. If you have virgin hair, getting a perm shouldn't damage your hair in any real way. But if you bleach your hair or have regular highlight appointments, things get a little trickier. Read on and see how.

There Will Be Some Damage

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A perm won't fry your hair like a bleaching appointment would, but it's still altering the makeup of your tresses and so there will be some damage involved. But if you get a proper one (and not try to do it at home,) your hair will make it out healthy and unscathed. "A perm can damage your hair when not done or taken care of properly. It changes the chemical properties of your hair to get that curl or wave. The chemicals used are harsh on your hair but not in the way bleach is," Casey Wintheiser, a stylist at The Blowout Parlor, shares with Bustle.

"With a perm, you are not stripping it like bleach and making your hair very fragile, but a perm is going into the cuticle of the hair." Which means if you already have damaged hair going in, a perm might make your strands even more brittle and lead to serious breakage. Which leads us to our next point: If you color your hair, you might want to rethink the perm.

Perms With Highlighted Hair

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Since highlights involve harsh chemicals typically applied bi or tri-monthly, the whole process leaves your hair weaker than virgin hair. Because of that, double-processing your locks with a perm might be a recipe for disaster.

"You can get highlights and a perm, just be very careful and make sure your stylist is paying attention," Wintheiser says. You should use the most caution if you bleach your hair. "With bleached hair it weakens the cuticle and makes it very easy to break, especially if your hair is over processed with the bleach. I would not recommend a perm to someone who regularly gets their roots highlighted on a regular basis."

If you're rocking your natural color, go for it. But if you bleach your hair and get regular touch ups, it might be too much for your hair to handle.

How To Keep Your Hair Healthy

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After your perm, keeping your hair healthy is easy. It's almost the same regimen as having color-processed hair. "Use chemicals safe shampoo and conditioner, and use heat protective products when styling your hair," Wintheiser says. She also recommends listening to what your stylist recommends, product-wise.

"Your stylist will have great products for you as well. Unfortunately a lot of products are expensive but it is worth it. Just think of how much you're spending getting your perm done; you don’t want to use cheap, bad products!" Skip the L'Oreal and go in for the salon-grade products.

So the takeaway? If you're thinking of perming your hair but are afraid of damaging your hair, take into consideration what your hair history is. Has it been bleached recently? Do you get your roots done regularly? Or do you have natural, untouched hair? Depending on those answers, a perm won't hurt your tresses — just consult your hair stylist and see what they say!