Home Beautygab How Long Does Your Hair Have To Be To Get A Perm?

How Long Does Your Hair Have To Be To Get A Perm?

by Gabbi

A few decades ago, perms were a popular hairstyle, but now they’ve got a modern facelift. Surprisingly enough, perms are becoming more popular, especially on short and men’s cuts.

In addition, perms aren’t one size fits all. Your hair length, texture, type, and perm rod can all affect the outcome of your perm. Just like how there’s more than one type of haircut, there’s more than one type of perm. 

How long does your hair have to be to get a perm? On average, your hair should be at least a few inches long to get a perm. You’ll need enough hair to wrap around the rod. It will also depend on your hair’s characteristics and what type of perm you want.

Besides hair length or the size of the perm rod, the technique you use to roll your perm will also affect your outcome. The rods will create the diameter of your curls, but the rolling pattern will affect how your perm will sit once it’s complete. 

How do you know if your hair can get permed? We will break down the most popular hair lengths for perms, what perms work best for short strands, and how to maintain your perm. You’re only a few steps away from achieving the curls of your dreams!

What Is A Perm?

A perm is a chemical service that will alter the shape and structure of your hair. When most of us think about perms, we are most likely thinking about curly hair. However, while curls are the most popular style for perms, you can create waves or loose curls.

Perms are a high-maintenance service, and if they aren’t applied correctly, they can damage your hair. A perm uses a wave/perm solution and neutralizer to allow your strands to take on their new texture.

Because it’s a potent chemical service, it can decrease the integrity of your hair. However, with the right stylist, you can achieve your dream hair. In addition, there is a perm out there for everyone, even if you have short strands.

What Is The Average Hair Length Needed For A Perm?

Most perms will work the best with short or medium-length hair. Long hair may benefit from other perming techniques, but more traditional perms are ideal for shorter hair. So, how long does your hair need to be to get a perm? 

It will depend on how short your haircut is. A good rule of thumb is checking the size of your perming rods. Your perming rods will show you how tight or loose your curl will be and the most suitable rolling technique.

The larger your perming rod, the looser your curl and the longer your hair needs to be. In addition, if your hair is 2-3 inches long, it could be long enough for a perm, depending on your desired curl pattern. 

If your hair can wrap around your perming rods with ease, you can proceed with the perm. However, if you have a buzzcut, you may not be able to perm your hair since it lacks length.

Is It Possible To Perm Short Hair? 

As stated earlier, most perms work the best for short-medium hair lengths. However, if you have a shorter cut, you might need to opt for a smaller or thinner perming rod. In addition, it’s crucial to keep in mind the smaller the perming rod, the tighter the curl.

Another rule of thumb most stylists follow when determining if it’s possible to perm short hair is to see if the hair wraps around the perm rod 2 ½ times. 

So if your hair can easily wrap around your perming rod of choice, it will be able to take the perm. Stylists should ensure that the hair wraps around properly to avoid dents, fish hooks, and undefined curls. 

Best Perms For Short Hair 

Do you have a short haircut but want to switch up your look? One way you can achieve that is with a perm. However, you may be wondering which perms are the most suitable for shorter strands. 

Traditional Perm

Classic hairstyles never seem to fade, and you could never go wrong with a traditional perm. However, it’s crucial to note that there are such things as hot and cold perms. 

The cold perm is the most popular, which we will be breaking down today.

A cold perm involves using an alkaline perming solution and a neutralizer to distribute on the hair while it’s wrapped in your rods. Cold perms offer more styles and customization. 

In addition, you can use different rolling techniques to achieve your desired curl pattern. 

Spot Perm

Spot or partial perms are an excellent option for short hair because they focus on one section of hair rather than the whole head. This is ideal if you like to keep your sides buzzed close to the head but have the top longer and voluminous.

For example, if you have a pixie cut, you may want a little extra volume or texture. So you can perm the top section of hair and leave the sides short and close. A spot perm is quick to execute and doesn’t require as much maintenance as a full perm would.

Pin Curl Perm 

Another option for short hair is pin curl perms. Pin curl perms use a combination of pins and rollers to create a curl pattern. So if your hair is too short to wrap around a perming rod, you might be able to get away by using a pin for a pin curl instead.

However, you may not get the same consistency of curls through your hair because some pin curls will be looser or tighter than others.

According to Verb, “this type of perm doesn’t use harsh chemicals – although this also reduces the style’s life which is around three to six months.”

Root Perm 

A root perm is excellent for short hair that lacks texture or volume, and it’s a wonderful touch-up service if you’ve already permed your strands before. 

In addition, a root perm is great to eliminate regrowth so the roots can have the same curl pattern as your strands.

However, if you are looking for more lift at your roots, a root perm can add texture, volume, and density. This is especially great for short hair that feels like their hair is too fine or struggles to hold any shape. 

It will also grow out quickly if you only perm the roots on short hairstyles. 

How Much Time Does It Take To Perm Short Hair?

Most perms will take the same amount of time to complete because of the perming solution and neutralizer. 

Regardless of how short or long your hair is, it all has the same processing time from the solution. On average, perms take 2-3 hours to complete.

However, rolling your perm can be more time-consuming if you have incredibly long or dense hair. Usually, the less hair you have to roll, the quicker the prep work is for the perm. Then, it all depends on how long your perming solution needs to sit.

How Will Short Hair Look After Being Permed?

We mentioned earlier that the tighter the curl or the smaller the rod, the shorter your hair would be post perm. So, for example, if you have shoulder-length hair, you can end up with chin-length hair depending on your rod. 

You may notice that your hair is about two inches or 25-30% shorter after your perm. 

How Long Does The Hair Need To Be For Men’s Perms?

The same rules apply to perming men’s hair. For example, if your hair can wrap around your desired perm rod 2 ½ times or its 2-3 inches in length, you will most likely be able to perm your hair. 

However, if you can’t wrap your hair around the smallest perm rod available, it can be a sign that the hair is too short.

Perm Process

What can you expect when you are in the chair for your perm? A perm involves a few steps that take a few hours to complete. 


The first step is to wrap the hair around your desired perm rod. The perm rod will decide your new curl pattern. In addition, the stylist will determine the best rolling pattern to achieve your desired outcome. 

Perm Solution

After the rods are in place, it’s time to apply the perm solution. The perm solution will break the bonds in your strands so it can take the shape of the perming rods. It will need to process for a certain amount of time before rinsing it.


When it’s time to rinse your perm solution, the stylist will keep your rods in because your new curl pattern needs to be set with a neutralizer.


A neutralizer is a necessary step of a perm because it will repair the bonds broken by the perming solution. In addition, the neutralizer will harden the hair into its new texture and shape. 

Rinse & Style 

Once the neutralizer has been processed, your stylist will complete your perm by rinsing out this solution, removing the rods, and proceeding to styling. Finally, you should be left with the perm of your dreams! 

How Long Does A Perm Last On Short Hair? 

Short hairstyles will outgrow a perm faster than longer hair lengths. On average, a perm will last anywhere between 3-4 months on short hair. After a few months, you might notice it’s time to go in for a touch-up or to cut off the outgrown perm.

How long a perm will last will also depend on how well you maintain it and how fast your hair grows. On average human hair grows ½ inch per month. So a combination of these factors will determine how long a perm can last on short hair.

How To Maintain Your Perm

Once your hair is beautifully permed, you’ll want to maintain the integrity of your hair. 

You should avoid getting a perm if your hair has been freshly colored or chemically treated. Adding a perm on top can cause severe damage and ruin your hair’s integrity.

However, let’s go over some helpful tips that will prolong the lifespan of your perm. You’ll want to avoid heat styling and chemical services, along with water, especially for the first 48 hours after your perm.  

Avoid Moisture For 48 Hours

For the first two days after your perm, you’ll want to avoid getting it wet at all costs. 

That includes water, showering, swimming, exercising, sweating, and more. Moisture can loosen or ruin a fresh perm because your hair needs time to be set in place thoroughly.

Avoid Heat Styling & Chemical Services

While you can safely heat style or color your hair after a perm, it’s not recommended, especially if your perm is fresh. Heat can damage your hair and create frizzy or fried curls. In addition, excessive heat styling can lead to hair breakage. 

The same rules apply to color or chemical services. Color may be safe a few weeks after a perm, but it’s not recommended.

In addition, if you have highlights or bleached hair, you may want to avoid perms altogether because you can be prone to breakage.

Air Dry Your Perm

The best way to style a perm is by letting it air dry. The perming solution and neutralizer have completely altered your hair structure. So your hair will naturally return to that curly state after it’s been washed.

In addition, you save the health and integrity of your hair by not applying heat to your strands. Letting your perm air-dry will help prolong its lifespan, and you’ll notice that your curls will be soft and defined. 

Boost Hydration

Because a perm physically changes the structure of your hair, you may notice that your strands feel more dry, coarse, or brittle. Having changes in your texture is normal after you’ve permed your hair. However, you can add hydration back into the hair. 

You can incorporate a weekly hair mask into your routine to nourish your strands. In addition, using conditioning or moisturizing products will keep your curls defined, bouncy, and frizz-free.

Touch-Up Regularly 

Touch-ups will be crucial if you want to maintain your perm on a short cut. For example, if you’re going to perm your regrowth, you may want to do a root perm and even trim dead ends.

This will ensure your roots match the rest of your perm without processing the midshaft again with a perm solution. In addition, perming your regrowth will add body, texture, and shape to short hair.

Also, you’ll be able to grow out your perm at any point in time. 


Overall, there is a perm for every hair length, type, and texture. In addition, perms are not limited to curls. 

You can also get a straight perm or even create loose curls and waves. In addition, most perming techniques are ideal for short to medium-length hair.

On average, your hair should be at least 2-3 inches long or wrap around your perming round 2 ½ times to achieve a high-quality perm. In addition, it’s crucial to keep in mind your hair will shrink if you choose a tighter curl or smaller rod size. 

Lastly, the size of your perming rods, rolling techniques, and desired outcome will determine if your hair is long enough to perm. Would you ever perm your hair? 

Up Next: How Long Does A Perm Last For Men?

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