How to Tell if Someone Has a Perm?

Straight haired people often dream of curly hair. Curls can be achieved by perming your hair. But can you tell if someone has a perm?

There have been many hairstyles that have been in style for generations. From bob cuts in the mid-20th Century to more straight hairs during the start of the 21st Century. One such hairstyle that was really popular during the 1980s was the perm! Perm is a hairstyle that is produced by treating the hair with chemicals by making the hair in curls or waves. It was a trendy hairstyle for many years and came in various sizes and styles.

Perms are making a comeback in contemporary times, so how to tell if someone has a perm or not? Knowing if someone has a perm is important because it may help you to learn about health, compatibility, and other issues. It can also help you to provide better care and treatment for your hair and also to avoid any complications or misunderstandings. If you wanted to tell between natural and perm curls, then you have come to the right place!

The Basics of Perming

The basics of perming

Perm hairstyle is also known as a permanent wave or curl. The process involves the use of chemicals to break down the hair’s natural bonds and reshape them into the pattern they desire.

The process of getting a perm involves applying a specific chemical solution to the hair. During a perm treatment, a chemical solution is applied to the hair which breaks down the hair’s natural looks and reshapes them into a new pattern. After applying the chemicals, the hair is wrapped around rods which determine the shape and size of the curls or waves. Afterward, the hair is rinsed, styled, and neutralized.

Most of the perms last for a maximum of six months. The entire process can take several hours depending on the thickness and length of the hair. There are different types of perm hairstyles including basic perms, spiral perms, root perms, and stack perms. Basic perms are the most common type of perms which involves creating loose, natural-looking curls throughout the hair. Root perms create volume and lift at the roots while stack perms involve creating layers of curls throughout the hair. Spiral perms create defined and tight curls in hair.

5 Signs of a Perm

If you’re trying to determine if someone has a perm hairstyle, here are some signs to look for:

Signs of a perm

1. Frizzy Curls: The most obvious sign of a perm hairstyle is the presence of dry and frizzy curls in hair. Perms can create a variety of curl patterns from tight ringlets to loose beachy waves.

This can be a big indicator that they had some treatment before and they might have perm hairstyle.

2. Baby hairs aren’t curly: After several weeks of the perm treatment, when new hairs started to grow, they won’t be curly if they had a perm before. You may notice the person has straight hair at the top and curly hair at the bottom and middle.

3. Texture: Permed hair has a different texture than unpermed hair. It may feel rougher to the touch and may have a slightly puffy appearance.

4. Lines and Bends: Another biggest sign of permed hair is a bent or folded appearance. In natural curls, there won’t be unnatural crimps like lines or bends.

5. Shape: Permed hair may have a different shape and pattern depending on the type of perm that was used. For example-a spiral, perm will create long curls while a stack perm will create layers throughout the hair.

6 Techniques for Detecting a Perm

It is critical to tell if someone has a perm on their hair unless you experience perms in your hair. You may see that permed hair is quite different from natural curly hair regarding the uniformity, size, and shape of the curls.

Techniques for detecting a perm

1. Natural Curls are not Perfect:

The perfection and shine that come after a permed hair treatment are not the same as naturally curly hair. Natural hair always has a slightly raw look. So, if you identify too much perfection in someone’s hair, that might be a perm.

2. Uniform curls:

Perm hairstyle is a way in which uniformed curls are produced. The lack of uniformity and evenness in natural perm influences people to go for a perm hair treatment. It is very tricky to notice uniform curls unless the person doesn’t have long hair.

3. Straighter at Roots:

Permed hairstyle is done throughout the hair but the roots will always be straighter if you notice. In most cases, almost one inch or more of permed hair may look straight at its roots. After several months, their hair will grow straight from their roots.

4. Sudden Change in Hairstyle:

If you got to know someone with curly hair whom you haven’t met for a few days, it will be easy for you to know if they got a perm hairstyle or not. With the shift of their hair, you will get the idea of permed hair if it looks perfect from every angle.

5. Single Shape and Pattern Curls:

It is not common for natural hair to be in a single shape and perfect. On the other hand, Perms are found in a particular pattern and single shape. Natural curls can be of different patterns and shapes.

6. Signs of Damage:

Perming can be a harsh chemical process that can damage the hair. If you see the signs of damage such as breakage, dryness, etc. it might be because of a perm.

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Differences Between Natural Curls and a Perm

Natural curls and permed hair both create curls or waves but they differ in how they are achieved and the way they look.

Difference between natural curls and a perm

Natural Curls are a result of genetics and are present from birth. The pattern, texture, and shape of natural curls can vary widely depending on factors such as ethnicity, lifestyle, and hair care routine. Natural curls can be coiled, loose and wavy, or anything in between. They generally give a more effortless and organic look. On the other hand, a perm is a chemical treatment that uses a solution to break down the bonds in the hair. Then it reforms the bonds to create curls or waves. Perms can create a wide range of curl patterns. The result of a perm is generally more defined and uniform than natural curls.

Moreover, perms can require more maintenance than natural curls as they can cause hair damage and dryness if not properly cared for. Natural curls, on the other hand, require less maintenance as they are already part of the hair’s natural texture. Above all, both natural curls and perms can create beautiful curls. They differ in appearance and level of maintenance.

Dos and Don’ts of Identifying a Perm

Identifying a perm requires careful observation and knowledge of the process of perming. Here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind when identifying a perm:

Dos and donts of identifying a perm


  • You should look for consistent, uniform curls or waves throughout the hair
  • Look for a distinct demarcation line between the permed hair and any natural curls.
  •  Observe the overall shape of the hairstyle to see if it appears artificially curled or wavy. 
  • Check if the curls have a slightly crunchy and frizzy texture which can indicate a perm treatment.
  • Ask the person if they have recently gone for a perm treatment or if their hair is naturally curly.
  • Check the texture of the hair as permed hair has a different texture than natural hair.


  • Assuming that all curly hair is a perm as some people have natural curls. So, it’s important not to jump to a conclusion based solely on the appearance of someone’s hair.
  • Assuming that all perms will have a uniform and tight curls as perm results can vary based on the size of the rollers or rods used and the hair’s natural texture.
  • Assuming that all permed hair is damaged. While perming can cause damage to the hair, not all the permed hair is damaged. Properly maintained permed hair can be healthy and strong.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Perming Hair

Like any hair styling technique, perming has its benefits and drawbacks. Here are some of them:


  • Perm hairstyle creates long-lasting curls that can last up to six months with proper care.
  • Perming offers a range of options in terms of curl pattern and size which allows you to get a variety of different looks.
  •  Permed hair requires minimal maintenance. It makes it ideal for people who don’t want to spend a lot of time and effort styling their hair.
  • Permed hair requires less styling time since the curls are already in place. In another way, it saves a lot of time of yours which you can use to sleep more for better health.


  • Perming can damage the hair especially if it is done too frequently or already fragile.
  • Perming can be expensive especially if you go to a professional stylist.
  • The process of perming can be time-consuming. It takes up to several hours depending on the thickness and length of your hair.
  • The chemicals used in the perming process can cause skin irritation, hair breakage, or damage to the scalp.
  • The structure and texture of permed hair can change. It can become looser over time. As a result, an uneven appearance can be seen.
  • Perm hairstyle will make your hairstyle constant. So, before going for a perm make sure you are satisfied with your hair looks. Because you won’t be able to rearrange your looks as before perm treatment.


1. Can a perm look natural?

According to hairstylist Guy Tang, modern and professional perms can look natural. For getting beachy texture and waves, modern perms can be done.

2. How long does a perm last?

Generally, a perm lasts three to six months depending on the hair type and how you took care of it. The procedure of perming is a long process which can be one to five hours.

3. Can you undo a perm?

If you want to undo the results of a perm, you can go for a deep conditioning or hot oil treatment. While doing this, cover your curls with a shower cap and leave it for some hours.

4. Are perms still curly when wet?

Yes, it will stay curly even if you wash your hair. You can style your hair differently even though it is curly.

5. What not to do after a perm?

Wait 48-72 hours before you wash your hair or take a shower. Avoid coloring your hair for 3-7 days. And you must avoid getting into the swimming pool or hot bat tab for 7 days.

Final Thoughts

Above all, perming is a chemical hair treatment that can add long-lasting curls or waves to straight hair. While it offers a range of benefits such as versatility, and reduced styling time and volume, it has also some drawbacks. The potential for hair damage, cost, time-consuming process, change in hair structure, and chemical exposure are some of the main disadvantages associated with perm treatment. It is essential to carefully consider the pros and cons before deciding whether perming is the right option for you. Consulting with a professional stylist and taking proper care of your hair after the perm treatment can help minimize the risks and enjoy the benefits of perming.

Key Points

  • Perms was a popular style in the 80s where hair was chemically treated to get permanent curly hair.
  • There are some signs that a perm was chemically done or not and techniques to differentiate perm and natural curls.
  • There are some benefits and drawbacks when identifying perm hair, while also having pros and cons of perming the hair itself.

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