Home Beautygab Perm Rod Size For Beach Waves

Perm Rod Size For Beach Waves

by Gabbi

When you think of permed hair, what image comes to mind? If it’s your mother’s hair in the 80’s, we challenge you to wipe that from your memory because today’s perms are nothing like that.

These days, perms – chemically curled hair that can keep the style up to six months – come in different versions, including some very natural and modern-looking beachy waves.

If you’ve been thinking about getting your hair permed like that, you might be wondering – what size rods should you use to ensure your hair comes out beachy instead of crunchy?

So, what are the perm rod sizes for beach waves? The best rod sizes for beach waves in long hair are the medium to jumbo sized ones. The bigger the rod, the looser your waves will be. However, if you have short hair, you may want to consider small to medium rods.

In this guide, we will outline all the things to consider before you get your hair permed so that you end up with exactly the look you want: soft, modern, natural-looking beach waves.

Best Rod Size For Beach Waves

There are over a dozen rod sizes and they are easily identifiable by their colors because manufacturers follow a universal standard, making it easy to tell each size from another. 

  • Small rods: red, blue, yellow, and pink rods. They come in sizes from ⅛” to 1/4” and create the tightest curls. Ideal for use on short hair. 
  • Medium rods: grey, white, and purple rods. They range from 9/16” to 11/16” and create medium-sized classic curls. They can be used on short and long hair but will produce different results.  
  • Jumbo rods: peach, teal, black, and tan. These are the biggest rods, ranging from ¾” to 1 ½” – ideal for very relaxed-looking waves and extra-long hair.

When it comes to selecting the right perm rod size for a beachy style, there are a few things you might want to consider: 

Length Of Your Hair

Depending on how long your hair is, the range of perm rods you can use is limited. For example, if your hair is really short, let’s say 3-4 inches long, you can really only use small perm rods. If you use a perm rod that is too big, your hair will barely wrap around it and you’ll get lots of volume but not defined waves.

On the other hand, if your hair is very long, you will not get the best results using the smallest rods because there won’t be enough space to wrap all your hair. Plus, the curls produced by small rods will not create a very natural-looking wave in your long hair, leaving you with very tiny and tight curls instead.

So the first step to achieving beach waves with perm rods is to narrow down the range of perm rods you can use on your hair. Then, you can select the few sizes out of that pool that would be more likely to create a pretty beachy look.

We recommend using small blue, yellow, and red rods on very short hair (3-5″). Medium rods work best on hair that is from shoulder-length to mid-back long. Jumbo rods will work best on hair that is longer than your mid-back.

Size Of Perm Rod

Once you’ve narrowed down the general sizes of rods you can use for your length of hair, now it’s time to pick the ones that will create the kind of beachy waves you’re looking for. 

Consider the largest two sizes in your rod range as these will create bigger and looser curls – the secret sauce to beachy waves. 

  • Short hair: choose pink and blue rods
  • Medium hair: choose white and purple rods
  • Long hair: choose teal and black rods

You don’t have to stick to these colors if you don’t have them – simply use common sense and aim for larger sizes that still make sense with your hair length. 

Using Multiple Size Rods At Once

The size of perm rods matters, but what really makes a beachy look even better is using a variety of rod sizes instead of one size. This creates a very natural effect since real beach waves are rarely uniform. That’s what makes them so charming, isn’t it?

There are two main ways you can use different-sized rods to create beach waves.


For this look, pick two sizes of rods and alternate them evenly throughout your hair. This will give your hair a very authentic beachy look – a little wild, a little effortless, and totally cute. 

Basically, just switch between the two sizes each time you’re rolling a section of hair and try to keep the sizes evenly distributed throughout your head.


Another option is to frame your face with slightly smaller rods and keep larger rods towards the back and bottom of your hair.

This is also a great way to keep your waves looking natural while enhancing your delicate facial features. The larger rods in the back of your head will give you extra volume that amplifies the effortless beachy look.

How To Achieve Beach Waves With Perm Rods

Once you’ve figured out your ideal rod sizes, you can get started on crafting your permanent beachy wave style. Most perms happen at salons, so you can simply tell your stylist what sizes of perm rods you want to be used and she’ll do the rest.

However, if you are doing it yourself or guiding your stylist, you can use the steps below as a general roadmap.

  1. Start with dry, clean, and brushed hair. Make sure there are no tangles in your hair.
  2. Gather supplies: perm rods of two sizes picked out for your hair, paper end wraps, a water spray bottle, and a rat tail comb. You will also need a perm solution and neutralizing solution.
  3. Section your hair into 1 – 1 ½” pieces. 
  4. Roll each section of hair over the perm rod and away from the face in a loose downward spiral so that the curls are not very tight. Use the paper end wraps to help keep your hair in place as you’re rolling, and spray with water from time to time to make it stick.
  5. As you roll your hair, keep in mind where you’re placing the two sizes of rods; make sure to either follow the alternating or face-framing placement strategy to get the most natural-looking beach waves.
  6. Once all of your hair is wrapped in perm rods, put a towel around your hairline and apply the perm solution through the hair. Follow the instructions for each perm solution to ensure you’re getting the best results and keeping your hair and scalp safe.
  7. Wait for the solution to do its magic. Your hair might need to process for an hour or two – depending on what perm solution you used. 
  8. Once you’ve waited the appropriate length of time for processing, gently unroll your perm rods one by one and wash the perm solution out of your hair. Apply the neutralizer solution that came with your perm kit to deactivate the chemicals and prevent your hair from getting damaged.
  9. Apply some good conditioner to your hair after you wash out the perm solution. Perming your hair can cause some dryness, so it’s always a good idea to replenish some moisture immediately after.
  10. Dry your hair with a diffuser. Your hair will naturally start forming a wave as it dries, but using a diffuser will really add some wind-blown authenticity to the look.

That’s it! At this point, you should have very natural-looking beach waves. And the best part? Your hair will look like this day after day without you having to waste your time styling in the morning.

What Perm Solution Works Best For Beach Waves?

If you’re getting your hair permed at a salon, your stylist will probably have a perm solution on hand that he or she trusts and knows how to work with. A good stylist would be able to determine what solution would produce the best results on your specific hair type.

But if you’re embarking on this style on your own, there are lots of home perming kits available. 

Some perms are two-step (dual-action), while others are one-step (single action).

  • Single action perms are primarily used for straighter hair. They include acid perms, alkaline perms, and exothermic perms. Acid perms are the most gentle and are well-suited for previously damaged hair. 
  • Dual-action perms are mostly used on curly or natural hair and assist with relaxing and rearranging existing curl patterns. The first step relaxes the hair and is applied before you roll your hair over perm rods. The second step is applied while your hair is wrapped over the rods.

To achieve permanent beach waves or any permed style, select the best perm solution for your current hair type.  

How Long Do Perm Beach Waves Last?

Although the term “perm” is short for “permanent,” your perm sadly won’t last forever. Most perms hold well for two- six months. 

You can extend the life of your perm by taking extra good care of your hair. For example, the first 48 hours after you get your perm, try keeping your hair dry and undisturbed to let the new curl pattern set. 

Throughout the life of your perm, avoid spending too much time in chlorinated water or repeated excessive sweating. Too much heat damage can also compromise the look of your perm waves. Treat your hair like it’s a fragile piece of lace during this time and you will see your beautiful beach waves last many months!

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