How Do Perms Affect Your Scalp?

What you need to know about getting a perm

Credits: Edgar Gomez at
Tammy Wu
Edited By:
Jennifer Ornelas , MD

Have you ever considered getting a perm? You may be thinking that it’s such an old-school thing that no one gets anymore. But actually, the trend of getting perms has in fact been continuing on! Are you someone who curls or straightens your hair every day or are you just simply too lazy to deal with your hair? You can actually save a lot of time and maybe even sleep in the mornings by having the option of permanently having your hair straightened or curled just the way you like it, making the idea of “I woke up like this” valid. As awesome as that seems, we will be looking at some of the downsides and things to look out for when getting a perm.

But before we start going into what this article will be focusing on, let’s start off with a general idea of what getting a perm actually does to our hair strands. A basic perm involves the use of chemicals, combs, and flat or curling irons to permanently straighten or curl your hair. For straightening hair, the chemicals straighten out and basically break all of the kinks in your hair making it super straight. Chemical relaxers are applied to the roots of the hair around every 6-8 weeks, which is around the time when our natural hair starts to show again, to maintain the straight hair look. For permanent wavy hair, the process contains a different chemical that is used to reconstruct the keratin in our hair. It lets the hair reform in the shape of the rollers to get the wavy look.  


Scalp Irritations Can Happen

People with chemically treated hair are more prone to having hair loss and breakage due to the damage sustained. Chemical relaxers are used on the roots of the hair. Because they are so close to the scalp, there have been a few studies showing that these relaxers could actually induce balding or hair loss. The chemicals used could also irritate the scalp, causing it to be dry, scaly, or sometimes even red. 


After-Perm Care Is Very Important

When you get a perm, your hair is basically undergoing a chemical transformation, meaning that it is also getting damaged. Similar to the other chemical processes such as dying or bleaching your hair, the natural barrier that strengthens your hair is damaged during the process. This can result in dry, brittle, and unhealthy-looking hair, which is why it is crucial to take care of your hair after getting this treatment done.


Hair conditioners help to restore the hair to be more manageable and glossy. After perming your hair, you may realize that your hair may have more flyaways and static after brushing your hair. Conditioners help decrease the static while at the same time smooth out our hair to be glossier and prevent it from tangling. Deep conditioning your hair may also be something that you want to consider, as deep conditioners tend to be on the thicker side, and are catered towards dry and chemically treated hair.

Less Heat Use

Using heat on your hair, whether it be using the hair blow dryer or standing under the sun for prolonged periods of time, on already damaged hair will not help it get any healthier. If you absolutely need to use the hair blow dryer, try using heat protectant sprays or heat protectant products first before applying heat onto your hair.

Let Your Hair Loose

Hairstyles that require tying the hair very tightly should be avoided. The tension from pulling on the hair could cause more breakage of the individual stands. It could also lead to hair loss for chemically relaxed hair.

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