Partial Perm: Everything You Need To Know Before Getting It

When you have natural straight hair, perms are the perfect solution to get the texture, volume and curls you desire! Besides, we don’t have the luxury to spend time curling our hair every morning. If you’ve decided to get a perm, you should find out all about it. Other than full perms, you stumbled upon partial perms too, right? Read on to find out what is a partial perm and everything else you need to know about it!

partial perm

What is partial perm?

A perm is the process of using chemicals to break down the bonds of the hair while changing its’ natural shape and creating a beautiful wave. Generally, there are two ways on how to do a perm: a cold perming and hot perming method.

Ideally, partial perms are intended for the bottom parts of the hair to look different than the rest of your hair.

Cold Perming Method

When it comes to the chemical used for cold perms (also known as ceramic perms), the pH alkaline level would be around 8.2 to 9.6, similar to the pH level of baking soda. The ammonium thioglycolate found in the chemicals will break the disulfide bonds found in your hair to achieve the curls. Once that’s done, to maintain the normal pH level of the hair, it will be neutralized.

Suitable for: defined, stronger and tighter curls.

Hot Perming Method

The chemical used for hot perm (also known as digital or acid perms) would be a pH acid level of 4.5 to 7.0, with the former similar to an americano and the latter similar to pure form of water. To break the disulfide bonds in your hair to form a curl, this particular pH level of acid is used.

Suitable for: those who have color-treated hair or thin, damaged hair

In other words, the main difference between cold perming and hot perming is that the former creates tight curls whereas the latter creates more natural waves or curls which are loose.

When it comes to partial perm, most people use the hot perming method. The chemicals will be applied on the ends of the hair which gives off a natural, curly wave.

Partial perm vs full perm

Basically, a partial perm is only applied to the ends of the hair. As for a full perm, it will be applied to your whole head.

partial perm

What type of hair is suitable for partial perm?

Those with shorter hairstyles would benefit the most from a partial perm. This is also why partial perms work the best on men. The reason is because partial perms would be able to add some texture or movement on the top while the rest of the head will remain tapered and short.

Partial perm long hair: is it still possible?

Yes, having a partial perm long hair is definitely doable too. Some of you may be worried whether a partial perm would look unnatural when you have long hair, but actually it would look great as long as your hair stylist knows how to work around it.

For instance, a good hair stylist would know that larger rods are used for partial perm long hair in order to make it look as natural as possible.

What are semi perms?

Semi perms are not the same as perms. Semi perms are made to last for a few weeks whereas perms will permanently change the hair structure of your hair and made to last for a long period of time (though you might need touch-ups here and there).

Semi perms are a great option if you only want to have curls for a special occasion and don’t intend to have curls all year long.

partial perm

Partial perm before and after: the things you need to know

What you need to know before getting a partial perm

1. It causes damage to your hair: A perm uses chemicals and change the properties of your hair in order to get the desired curl or wave. Hence, you can expect some sort of damage once you start doing a perm.

2. Colored-treated hair will cause further damage: If you bleached your hair or have already gone through a chemical treatment, getting a perm would further cause some damage. This is because your hair is fragile after the bonds have been broken due to the chemicals.

What you need to know after getting a partial perm

The after-care process once you get a partial perm is essential in order to maintain healthy hair. Here are some of the tips on how to take care of your partial perm hair:

1. Don’t use heat when drying your hair: Instead of using your hairdryer, let it air dry instead to prevent adding unnecessary stress to your hair. But if you need to use a hairdryer for times when you simply can’t wait for it to air dry, then you must attach a diffuser to disperse the heat.

Avoid using any heat styling tools as well such as the irons. The recommended time to leave it to air dry would be at night. This would cause your hair to be healthy and smooth the next morning.

2. Regularly trim your ends: It is important to trim the ends of your hair often to avoid having split ends. This will ensure your hair is healthy looking.

3. Use a hydrating conditioner: You should always use a conditioner that offers hydrating properties. Consider using a deep-conditioning treatment which requires you to leave it on for about half an hour or so and rinse it off after.

You are recommended to do this atleast twice a week when you just got a perm and once a week after that.

4. Don’t wash your hair regularly: You shouldn’t shampoo your hair too often as it will strip out the natural oils from your hair. The natural oil is needed after you perm your hair in order to keep it hydrated, healthy and moisturized.

5. Use the right hair products: Now that you’ve got a perm, you need to use the appropriate products such as a curl enhancing shampoo. Be sure to also use the shampoo that offers moisturizing properties which are not too creamy (doesn’t weigh down the hair too much).

6. Avoid hair products with chemicals: You should always use hair products with natural ingredients. Don’t purchase hair products which contain silicones because it will weight down your hair and cause greasiness.

Hair products which contain alcohol should be avoided as well as it will make your hair frizzy and dry. Avoid those with SLS/SLES too because it will reduce the sebum production which is essential to keep your hair moisturized.

Can you perm just the ends of your hair?

Yes, you definitely can! That’s what a partial perm is all about – curling just the ends of your hair. A full-on perm is where you practically perm your whole entire head.


So if you are looking to do a partial wave perm, be sure to take note of all the information above before you perform a permanent treatment to your hair! However, if partial perm isn’t for you, there are plenty of perm hair options for you to choose from. Simply decide which style you’re more keen on and book an appointment with your hair stylist!

Michelle Anne Kam

Michelle Anne Kam

Passionate about online marketing and writing. Apart from that, I enjoy lifting weights at the gym.

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