Perms can cost between $30 and $800. This iconic style varies a lot in cost thanks to the many perming methods and styles available. Everything from hair length, perm style, and even the amount of hair you want to perm can impact the final price.
The perming process involves your hairstylist applying some chemicals to your hair, using perm rods and heat to create the curl, then applying another chemical to help your hair hold its new shape.
It sounds simple, but the skill and knowledge needed to safely perm your hair comes at a cost. Not to mention the many other methods out there that vary in results and price. The big hair you might remember from the ‘70s and ‘80s aren’t the only looks you can get from a perm. Modern perms can create loose waves and different curl sizes for a more natural look.
This all raises two big questions: How much is a perm supposed to cost and how will you know if you’re getting the most value out of your appointment? With our guide, we’ll walk you through everything there is to know about perms, cost, and what you can expect before you book your perm appointment.
How much are perms for different hair lengths?
Perms for short hair can cost $30 to $150, medium-length hair can cost $60 to $200, and perms for long hair can cost $80 to $400. Short hair is the least expensive since it uses the least amount of product and the least amount of time to prep and install the perm rods. On the other hand, long hair requires more time, product, and attention to detail.
|Hair length||Perm cost|
|Short||$30 to $150|
|Medium||$60 to $200|
|Long||$80 to $400|
How long does your hair need to be for a perm?
Perms need a couple of inches of hair so it can wrap around the perm rods to form your curls. Really short hair can limit the styles you can achieve. For example, long hair is best if you want waves since you’ll have more hair to create them. It’s not easy to create soft waves with short hair.
Are you a good candidate for a perm?
The best candidates for perms have some length and healthy hair. The ideal hair length and healthiness depends on your desired style. Other factors, like your lifestyle, can also help you decide if a perm can work for you.
Here are a few questions to answer to see if you’re a good perm candidate:
- How often do you swim in chlorinated water? Chlorine can damage permed hair.
- How often do you bleach or color your hair? Your hair may not be able to handle the chemicals from a perm if you’ve recently treated it with other chemicals.
- Do you have layers? You may need to grow out your hair or pay more for the extra effort needed to perm your different hair lengths.
- What’s your hair texture and length? Some hair lengths and textures may need additional services before a stylist can give you a perm.
When in doubt, ask your stylist beforehand so they can take a closer look at your hair and determine what they can realistically achieve.
What are the different perming methods?
Perming methods include acid, alkaline, digital, exothermic, dual action, and organic. These methods differ based on the types of chemicals used (if any), when they’re applied, and how they affect hair to create a curl. The complexity, technique, and tools needed for these methods also impact the cost. We’ll cover these methods more in-depth below.
- Acid or hot perms use the acidic chemical glyceryl monothioglycolate to break down the disulfide bonds in your hair. Heat is then used to create your curls’ shape. This method takes longer to set and is gentler on hair than other methods.
- Alkaline or cold perms use a lotion or solution with ammonium thioglycolate to form your curls without using heat. Curls last longer with this method but aren’t recommended for weak or thinning hair.
- Digital perms rely on digital perm rods that allow stylists to control the heat level. These are great for tight and defined curls, but the rods are expensive and come with a high appointment cost.
- Exothermic perms use acid or alkaline to create chemical heat. This opens the hair shaft and allows your stylist to curl your hair. This method is great for hair that’s resistant to other methods.
- Dual-action perms first soften and smooth hair before perm rods are applied. Your stylist will then use a weak alkaline solution to help with the curling process.
- Organic perms use natural oils and other non-chemical solutions to create curls.
How much are different perm styles?
Perm styles can range from $40 to $800. This wide range is thanks to the many different techniques and looks available. Styles like a spiral perm, beach wave, and stacked perm all require different techniques and come at very different costs. We’ve recapped the cost ranges of common perm styles below.
|Spot or partial||$30-$100|
|Stacked or multi-textured||$40-$250|
There are many different types of perms, and some stylists use different names for the same type of perm. We’ll go over popular styles below so you can get an idea of what you might like.
- Straight perms will permanently straighten your hair instead of curling it. This is sometimes called a reverse perm, Japanese straight perm, or a Korean magic perm. Your stylist will apply a solution to break down the bonds in your hair, flat iron it, then apply a neutralizer to help your hair hold its new shape. If you’d rather nix the chemicals, you can consider alternatives. For example, the cost of a silk press, a straightening service that doesn’t use chemicals, is typically lower than a straight perm.
- Spiral perms create tight and bouncy curls of different lengths and sizes for a natural look. Stylists typically use a cold perm solution for this look.
- Body wave perms create soft waves that aren’t as bouncy or high maintenance as tight curls. Big rods are placed throughout the hair to create natural-looking waves.
- Beach wave perms look similar to the tousled waves you get after a beach day. This look works great on people with long hair who want something low maintenance.
- Stack/multi-textured perms use a stack of perm rods to create your curls. This perm doesn’t need much styling or maintenance and can start at the middle or ends of your hair.
- Volumizing perms are achieved by taking the perm rods out before adding the neutralizer. This results in soft waves and more volume. This look typically lasts a couple of months at most.
- Root perms use cold perming to perm hair at the roots and create volume. It doesn’t use as much perm solution or neutralizer compared to other methods, but does require some maintenance. It works best on shorter hair since the weight from long hair can pull the roots straight.
- Spot, partial, or plain curl perms are great if you have sections of thin hair or want extra volume in specific spots. It’s low maintenance and can work with tight or loose curls. You can achieve this look with either a hot or cold perm.
- Weave perms give you waves and body throughout your hair to give it more volume.
If you’re still not sure about which type of perm you want, you can always bring in a few inspiration photos or select a few that you like from your stylist’s portfolio. Your stylist should walk you through the process, any chemicals used, how it will affect your hair, and how much it will cost.
What else can affect a perm’s price?
On top of hair length, perming method, and style, other factors like your location and your hair’s current condition can affect your perm’s final cost. Check out these other factors you’ll need to keep in mind while researching different stylists.
- Location, like if you live in an area with a high cost of living
- Stylist’s expertise will come at a higher price in exchange for the skills they’ve honed over the years
- Type of salon, since higher-end locations tend to have a higher price tag
- Hair’s current condition can also impact the price if your stylist needs to do additional services to prep your hair for a perm
How can I choose the best type of perm?
You can choose the best perm for you by looking at photos of the different types and by getting your stylist’s recommendation during your consultation. Keep in mind that one person’s perm may not turn out exactly the same on your own hair. Hair history, density, texture, and health all play a role in your perm’s final look.
How much is a perm for men or kids?
Men’s and kids’ perms can also range from $30 to $800, since the cost will still vary depending on factors like hair length and desired style.
How much are chemical perms in different states?
Chemical perms in particular range from $45 to $120, according to our internal appointment data. South Dakota has the most expensive average chemical perm cost while Mississippi has the least expensive.
This number differs from the overall average cost of perms, since our data excludes non-chemical perms, sometimes called organic perms.
|State||Average cost per appointment|
How long will a perm last after an appointment?
You can expect a perm to last anywhere from two to six months depending on how fast your hair grows and how well you care for it. As your hair grows, your natural hair texture will begin to show.
How can I make a perm last longer?
You can make your perm last longer by keeping it dry during the first 48 hours, regularly moisturizing it, avoiding products and services that dry out your hair, and other things that help you take it easy on your hair. Your hair will need lots of moisture and nutrients to stay healthy and to retain your curls.
Here are a few tips you can follow to get the most longevity out of your perm:
- Avoid washing your hair for the first 48 hours after your appointment to avoid ruining your curls
- Work regular conditioning into your routine
- Deep condition your hair once or twice a week
- Look into protein treatments and hair masks to give your hair even more nourishment
- Find hair care products made for permed or curly hair
- Avoid sulfates, hair dye, and other products or treatments that can dry or further damage your hair
- Don’t wash hair in really hot water
- Use wide-tooth combs to comb your hair
- Dry hair with a diffuser instead of a blow-dryer
- Get regular trims to get rid of damage and minimize breakage
- Wrap your hair at night in a silk or satin scarf to minimize frizz
What are the benefits of getting a perm?
Perms are great if you love the idea of getting curls without spending hours using a curling iron. Spot perms can potentially help give people with curly hair some extra volume. Here are a few perks of getting a perm:
- Saves time from manually curling your hair
- Customized curls or waves that fit the look you want
- Hair gets more volume and body from the extra curls
What are the drawbacks of getting a perm?
Perms can damage your hair, take extra effort afterward to maintain, and require you to change other parts of your lifestyle to maintain your curls. Consider these cons while you’re deciding whether a perm is a good move for you:
- Perms dry out and damage hair, thus requiring more moisturizing and conditioning than you may already do
- Some perm styles require styling to look their best
- Cold perm solutions don’t smell great
- You may need to skip hair coloring and other hair treatments for a few months since your hair is in a damaged state
Is it worth it to get a professional perm?
A professional perm is worth the extra cost since you’re paying for your stylist’s skill and expertise. A stylist can keep your hair safe since they have experience handling perming chemicals and tools.
They can even advise you on the best type of perm for your hair or give you advice if your hair isn’t healthy enough for a perm. After your appointment, a stylist should also give you product and care recommendations to keep your curls intact and your hair as healthy as possible.
DIY perms can be disastrous if you don’t have the right size rollers, don’t know how to place them, don’t have the right perming solution, or if your hair isn’t strong enough to handle a perm. You’ll need to do a lot of prep to understand how each method works and how you can potentially achieve your dream style. It can also be tough to curl the parts of your hair you can’t easily see or reach.
This is not the service to skimp out on since excessive amounts of chemicals and heat can harm your hair and scalp. You can also get stuck with a look that you don’t like if you or your stylist doesn’t do a great job.
The price ranges you find here can greatly differ from what you might find in your search. Perms are a customized service and cost can fluctuate based on the combination of multiple factors. It’s worth taking the extra time to research different types of perms and local stylists before you sit down in anyone’s chair.
To start your search, look through reviews and prices in our community of hairstylists.