Skip to Content

Do Perms Cause Hair Loss, Thinning, Shedding, or Balding?

A beautiful female with curly hair follicles has thinning hair and severe chemical burns following permed hair treatment.

The internet is rife with hair loss claims, especially regarding chemical processes like perms. People say that perms are extremely damaging to the hair and can cause hair loss, but should you take that claim with a grain of salt?

Do perms cause hair loss? It can be difficult to determine whether any claim is valid because there’s so much false information floating around on the internet.

So, you need a source that you can trust, and this article is just that. To help set the record straight, we’ll tell you whether perms cause hair loss and everything else you need to know. Let’s get right into it!

Do Perms Cause Hair Loss?

There’s no denying that perms can cause hair loss – you don’t need a sophisticated study to confirm it. The chemicals used in perms are inherently harsh and can cause hair loss in several ways.

The main chemical in perms is ammonium thioglycolate. This chemical weakens your hair’s structure and makes it moldable.

It works well for that function, but it’s a strong alkaline substance, which can damage the hair shaft and cause it to break off at random points. If the worst doesn’t happen, you may find that your hair becomes more brittle and prone to breakage.

Perms can also do a number on your scalp. When perm chemicals are absorbed into your scalp, they may cause irritation.

This irritation can lead to inflammation and itchiness and increase your risk of a scalp infection (scratching your scalp creates superficial cuts and abrasions that are vulnerable to bacteria).

Hair loss is common with scalp infections. Perms can also burn your scalp and cause immediate hair loss.

White lady with curly hair strands suffering from hair fall following a perm treatment on her naturally straight hair.

Hair Loss Isn’t Guaranteed with Perms

Though there’s always a risk of hair loss with perms, the truth is that many don’t experience hair loss as a result of perms. Here are the main factors that determine your hair loss risk:

Your Hair Type

If you have super fine hair, your hair is naturally more prone to damage from any chemical treatment. Thus, the chemicals may affect your hair more than it would someone with coarser hair.

Also, if your hair is already damaged, your chances of hair loss with perms are relatively high.

How Long You Leave the Chemicals on Your Hair

The longer the perm solution sits on your hair, the greater your risk of hair loss. Whether you DIY your perms or have them done professionally, ensure that the perm solution is not left on your hair for too long.

You should rinse out the perm solution for most perms after 20 minutes.

How Far You Space Out Your Perms

Whenever you perm your hair, it incurs some degree of damage; the more often you put your hair through the wringer with perms, the higher your risk of developing hair loss. It’s best to space out perms every 8 to 12 weeks.

A cute girl that suffered from female pattern hair loss took a selfie of her naturally wavy hair strands.

Your Hair History

Your hair history plays into your risk of hair loss. Hair that’s been previously highlighted, permanently straightened, or dyed with henna or high lift color is at high risk of perm-induced hair loss.

Bleached hair is also more vulnerable to breakage than virgin hair.

Your Stylist’s Level of Experience

Though perms are by no means new, that doesn’t mean that every stylist knows how to do them correctly. Your stylist may make a mistake that costs you your hair – all it takes is to leave a product on your hair too long or choose the wrong perm for your hair type.

Whether You DIY Your Perm

At-home perms carry a greater hair loss risk than salon perms. If you’re thinking of doing an at-home perm, be sure to follow the instructions carefully, and choose your perm solution and neutralizer carefully.

Don’t choose a perm solution for coarse hair if your strands are fine – err on the side of caution at every point.

A white girl with naturally curly hair takes biotin hair supplements with the goal of repairing her damaged hair.

Hair Loss May Occur After the Perming Process

Another thing to remember is that hair loss with perms may not happen immediately. It may take weeks or even months for the hair loss to become noticeable.

This is because the hair damage done by perming is cumulative – each treatment makes your hair a little weaker and more brittle until it eventually snaps off.

How to Avoid Hair Loss from Perms

The best way to avoid hair loss from perms is to take precautions before getting the perm. First, consider whether you really need a perm.

If your hair is already damaged, putting it through more stress with a perm is probably not a good idea. Also, if you’re prone to scalp infections or other scalp conditions, perming may not be the best option for you.

If you decide to perm your hair, make sure you go to a stylist who is experienced in doing perms.

Ask to see pictures of their work, and be sure to ask about the products they use. You should also make sure they understand your hair type and will use the right products and solutions for your hair.

After you get up from the chair, ask about the aftercare instructions. They’ll likely tell you to take the following steps:

  1. When you wash your hair, use a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner to avoid stripping the moisture from your hair.
  2. Be sure to deep condition your hair regularly to keep it hydrated and healthy.
  3. Be extra careful when brushing and combing your hair while it’s still damp – use a wide-toothed comb and take your time to avoid hair breakage.

If you follow these instructions, you’ll be giving your hair the best chance to stay healthy and strong after a perm.

Of course, even if you take all the precautions in the world, there’s still no guarantee that you won’t experience some degree of hair loss after a perm.

If you start noticing hair loss, don’t panic – it’s likely that it will only be temporary.

If the hair loss is severe or doesn’t seem to stop, however, you should see your primary care physician or dermatologist to rule out any underlying conditions.

A stylish young female with thin hair experienced permanent hair loss (e.g., bald patches) from a perm burn.

Perm Alternatives to Consider

If you’re worried about the hair loss risks associated with perms, know that plenty of perm alternatives can give you the same look without damaging your hair. Consider one of these options instead:

Roller Sets


A roller set is a style created by winding your damp hair around rollers and allowing it to air dry. You’ll be met with bouncy curls, coils, or ringlets that last for several days (or up to a week or longer if you twist your hair up and put on a bonnet every night).

Flexi Rods

flexi rods on straight hair?? || AMTC

Flexi rods are long, thin, bendable rods that come in various diameters. They enable you to create temporary curls of virtually any size.

To get the look, simply wind your damp hair around the Flexi rod, starting at the ends and working your way up. Once your whole head is complete, allow it to air dry or sit under a hooded hair dryer.

A young Caucasian female with dark brown colored hair experienced hair thinning from excessive heat styling.

Bantu Knots


Bantu knots give you two amazing looks – big bouncy curls or stylish knots. To create them, separate your damp hair into small sections and apply a gel or styler to each.

Then, twist each section until it coils onto itself, and secure the coil with a bobby pin. Then dry the knots 100%. You can then leave the knots or take them down and rock some voluminous curls.

Curly Clip-Ins

The Best Curly Hair Extensions | How to Clip In and Blend

Curly clip-ins are a great way to get curly hair without damage. Simply attach the clip-ins at the roots of your natural hair, style as desired, and voila! You’ve got gorgeous curls without any of the hassle or hair loss associated with perms.

Related Articles

There you have it – everything you need to know about perms and hair loss. While there is a risk of hair loss associated with perms, it’s often temporary and can be minimized with proper care.

If you’re worried about damaging your hair, try out some of the perm alternatives above for some cute temporary curls.

We hope that this article has given you all the information you were looking for and that it enables you to make the best decision for your hair. Good luck!