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Can You Perm Bleached Hair? What Happens? DIY How to Guide

A female is leaving her hair stylist with perm damaged hair due to the very strong chemicals used during the perm process.

You’ve just bleached your hair and you’re thinking about perming it too. You’re right to contemplate whether this is a good idea.

Experts will tell you not to perm bleached hair, but could there be any validity to this recommendation? In this article, we’ll let you know whether you can perm bleached hair and why.

Can You Perm Bleached Hair?

Perming bleached hair is almost always not recommended, because the bleaching process is very involved and can inflict permanent damage to your hair.

Throughout the process, your cuticles (outer hair layer) are blasted open to allow the bleach to lift your natural hair color several levels. This process always results in damage, even if you don’t see physical evidence yet. 

After you bleach your hair, your strands are highly vulnerable to further damage. Your hair cuticles are more raised than before, and your hair strands are dryer than usual. Some people may experience breakage during or after a hair bleaching session.

As you may have realized by this point, bleached hair has already been put through the wringer, so adding another round of chemical processing to the mix could result in disastrous consequences. 

A white woman with reddish-dyed hair and a great smile just left the hair salon after getting a perm kit.

Perms Are More Damaging Than You May Think

Just because perms result in beautiful, luscious curls doesn’t mean that they don’t leave your hair compromised. Perms destroy your hair’s inner and outer structure and rebuild them in your new curl formation.

This process is tough on the hair. So, it’s crucial to only perm your hair if it is in a healthy state. Once you bleach your hair, your hair is no longer fit for a perm. 

What Could Happens if You Perm Bleached Hair?

Perming bleached hair can result in a variety of negative consequences. Some of the effects may be minor, while others may be so significant that they ruin your hair entirely. This section will tell you what could happen to your bleached hair if you perm it. 

A female wearing a green dress with bouncy curls after using perm cream and a wide-toothed comb to style her hair.
  1. Your hair could fall out. The worst possible scenario is that your hair could immediately fall out in your hands or sometime after perming it. This is not a far-fetched scenario considering that bleached hair is already deeply compromised. There have been many horror stories about hair fall resulting from perming bleached hair, and you don’t want to deal with that scenario. 
  2. Your hair could get extremely dry. Even if your hair doesn’t fall out in your hands, you could end up with parched hair that’s nearly impossible to moisturize. Every time you process your hair with bleach or other chemicals like perms and relaxers, your hair structure is changed forever. It becomes more porous, meaning that its cuticles remain open and cannot retain moisture the way they used to. This leads to hair that is difficult to moisturize. 
  3. You could develop split ends. Split ends and overprocessed hair go hand in hand. If you decide to perm your bleached hair, you could end up with a ton of split ends. And if you neglect to treat them, those damaged ends may break off

How To Perm Bleached Hair at Home

After reading about the risks of perming your bleached hair, you may have decided not to go through with it. But if you’re still game to perm your bleached hair, nothing’s there to stop you.

Several manufacturers have formulated perms for colored hair, and in the following section, we’d like to explain how to use them to minimize damage. 

*Note: All of the consequences mentioned earlier could still occur even if you use a perm that’s formulated for colored hair. 

Cute Caucasian female with 1C hair with curls after a perm showing off her new curly texture holding a few strands.

Here’s what you need to do to perm your bleached hair: 

  1. Get your hands on a perm that’s specifically for color-treated hair. If the perm’s packaging doesn’t specifically indicate that it’s for processed hair, we advise you not to use it. Here are a couple of perms that you can use: 
  2. Purchase perm rods. To set your hair in new permanent curls, you’ll have to wrap them around curl or wave rods before applying the perm solution. 
  3. Begin by washing your hair with a clarifying shampoo. Dirty hair doesn’t take to perms as well as clean hair does. It’s best to use one without sulfates – doing so preserves some of your hair’s moisture throughout the perming process. 
  4. Every perm comes with included instructions. Open and read them carefully. Not following the instructions to the letter can result in a hair disaster. 
  5. Part out and wrap all of your hair in perm rods. Ensure that all of the sections are the same size so that you’ll get consistent results.
  6. Mix the perming solution up according to the instructions inside the perm packaging. 
  7. Pour the perming solution onto your hair while it’s wrapped around the rods.
  8. Allow the perming solution to sit for 5 to 10 minutes or for the time indicated in the perm instructions.
  9. Rinse out the perming solution while the rods are still in your hair for 5 minutes. Blot with a towel rod by rod. 
  10. Blow-dry or sit under a dryer until your hair is completely dry. 
  11. Add the neutralizing solution to your hair while it’s wrapped in the rods.
  12. Allow the neutralizing solution to sit on your hair for up to 10 minutes. Reference the packaging instructions for a precise time.
  13. Rinse the hair thoroughly, condition, and style.

Hair Tips to Use During and After Perming Bleached Hair

Half face close up of excited female after her hair passes a strand test to be permed after a bleaching treatment.

We’ve covered all the basics of perming bleached hair, and now it’s time to move on to a few tips to ensure as positive an outcome as possible. They include: 

  • Always keep a timer nearby. Because your hair is already permed, you don’t want to overprocess it further. So, set a timer each time you’re leaving any chemical in your hair. 
  • Ensure that your hair is not actively breaking or severely damaged. If your hair is damaged already, the best course of action is to find out why and remedy that first. Once your hair is in a healthier state, feel free to revisit the subject of perms. 
  • Be very gentle with your newly permed hair. Many times, when people first get a perm, they may be a little rough with their new curls because they’re used to styling straighter tresses. Unnecessary roughness can lead to all sorts of mechanical hair damage. For at least the first few weeks, we recommend staying away from heat and only detangling your hair with your fingers. Your hair will be very fragile immediately after perming.
  • Up your moisture and protein routine after perming bleached hair. Your hair will most likely be lacking in the protein area after perming it. And it may have already been protein deficient beforehand since it was bleached. So, ensure that you get enough deep conditioning treatments (at least once or twice a month) and do the occasional protein treatment to replenish any protein lost during the perming process. 
A funny redhead woman showing a peace sign after getting perm and bleach chemical treatments on 1C hair type.

Related Articles

Lastly, we always recommend that you consult a professional hairstylist before applying a perm to your dyed or bleached hair. A simple consultation at a local hair salon can help you decide whether it’s the best idea for yourself and your hair.

The stylist can tell you whether your hair is in a healthy enough state to perm. Just do a quick Google search for a stylist in your area to get started.

You may be disappointed to find out that it’s generally not a good idea to perm colored or bleached hair. However, if you take the correct precautions, you can minimize the resulting damage. We hope that this article has been helpful to you and wish you the best with your hair!