Is It Safe To Perm Bleached Or Color Treated Hair? Advice From Hair Experts

Is it safe to perm bleached or color treated hair? We’re glad you ask before committing to this serious chemical process. Read on for the answer and useful tips!

We’ve been there! You want to overhaul your look, including bleaching and dyeing. Then, moments or days later, you’re daydreaming about those stunning beachy waves and curls.

Yet, is it safe to perm bleached or color treated hair? Is there any downtime for your hair in between these chemical processes if the answer is yes? What should you pay attention to?

We’re here to answer your question and show you what to look out for before and after perming your chemically treated hair!

Can Your Perm Bleached, Color-Treated Hair?
Can Your Perm Bleached, Color-Treated Hair?

What Is Hair Perming?

Perming is a chemical process that permanently alters the structure of your hair, from straight to curly and wavy. The word “perm” means permanent hairstyle since this hairstyle is, well, permanent.

Hair perming is an incredibly damaging process, so you may want to think twice before putting your own hair through the process.

This chemical curling treatment reprograms the hair internally by permanently altering its natural molecular structure. It turns straight hair into wavy, curly, coily and kinky hair.

Shampoos Hub
Shampoos Hub

There are a lot of harsh chemicals involved in this process, which can affect the hair strands if done incorrectly or proceeded on already chemically treated.

Alkaline perms, in particular, are one of the most destructive to your strands. Our hair typically lives on the acid side of the pH scale. Alkaline perming usually uses a solution called ammonium thioglycolate, which, however, is on the alkaline side.

Thus, the use of this solution in perming disrupts the pH levels of your hair and scalp. When the optimal pH levels are compromised, the scalp will suffer. It might become oily, dehydrated, itchy and irritated, etc.

Another type of perming that is equally damaging is the thermal perm, which is the combination of heat and chemicals to promote waves and curls.

Extended exposure to heat might damage your hair more than you imagine, especially if it goes hand in hand with the application of harmful perming solutions. Perming means putting your hair at the higher threats of dryness, breakage, and, even worse, severe hair loss.

Hair Perming
Hair Perming

Is It Safe To Perm Bleached Or Color Treated Hair?

Yes, and No.

It’s ok to perm bleached or color treated hair. However, in all seriousness, perming bleached or colored hair entails more risks than virgin hair.

Bleaching and coloring are serious chemical processes that involve harmful chemicals like ammonia (an alkalizing agent) and hydrogen peroxide (oxidizing agent).

These chemicals make it to the most internal part of the strands – cuticles and change their structure and integrity.

Meanwhile, perming, as mentioned, is a different chemical treatment that reconstructs your hair. It alters the chemical properties of your natural hair. There will be minimal damage when perming as long as your hair is in good condition to start.

On the other hand, healthy strands are not always the case after they are bleached and dyed. For already damaged hair, if it’s not done properly, it will be further damaged, and you might be left with broken cuticles, frizz, and split ends.

You might have to trim off the damaged section in the worst-case scenario.

Therefore, while perming on already chemically treated hair is still possible, we do not highly recommend it. Bleaching leaves the hair cuticles open to enable the bleach chemicals to lift the natural hair color. This adds the first round of damage to your hair.

Once bleached, your hair is dryer and more fragile with the cuticles being still raised. You might suffer from breakage and hair loss following the bleaching session if starting out with weak hair.

Perming, as mentioned, be it alkaline or thermal process, exposes the already damaged strands to further abuse. Your hair is all the more likely to experience dryness, breakage, and hair falling than ever before!

If you are still looking to perm your bleached or colored hair, here is the good news.

Many perming formulas are specially made for chemically treated hair now. In addition, some salons now use softer, milder solutions and rods so that the process will be easier on your strands.

Bad news? Just a few salons carry them because these special formulas are more costly. Plus, quality products can only be obtained through a distributor.  You can also try these formulas at home.

However, whether you use regular box kit or the milder versions formulated for chemically processed hair, your bleached or dyed hair is always more susceptible to damages than virgin, unprocessed hair.

Is There Any Case Where Your Bleached, Colored Hair Should Not A Perm?

Bleached Hair

As mentioned, perming over bleaching is one of the most devastating jobs you can do to your hair. With raised cuticles and already damaged hair, perming only wreaks significant havoc on your strands.

Dry Hair

For those with dry, brittle, and frizzy strands, perming is not highly advisable.

Putting your hair through this chemical treatment only causes more damage to it. Your hair will be further stripped of moisture, resulting in more severe dryness.

Highlighted Hair

Another case that you’d better hold off perming is that you’ve done a lot of highlighting for your mane. If around 30-40% of your hair is highlighted, it’s best to give perming a second thought.

Highlighting will take a great toll on your hair cuticles. Therefore, perming will further destroy them and lead to big-time frizz.

This is not to mention that there is a need to frequently retouch your highlights, so expect even more damages to your strands after perming.

That’s why we do not usually recommend perming over highlighted hair. You’d better off choosing one or the other!

Colored Hair

Perming over colored hair is generally safer than on bleached or highlighted hair, yet unwanted damage is still inevitable! It’s best to think carefully before you decide if you want to perm your dyed hair or not.

It also pays to evaluate the conditions of your hair to see whether it can withstand another round of chemical treatment.

To minimize the damage, it would be best if you allowed two to three weeks before and after your perm to dye your hair.


Whatever situation you’re in, let your hair take a break and bring it back to health in the meantime. It is essential to restore and fortify the bonds in your hair using a bond restoration treatment.

Even when you feel it’s already healthy, proper consultation with a professional is advisable to ensure the strands are strong enough for perming.

Perming Is Not Recommended If You’ve Done Several Coloring Services
Perming Is Not Recommended If You’ve Done Several Coloring Services

What Should You Know Before Perming Bleached Or Color-Treated Hair?

Do Not Skip The Strand Test

Make sure your bleached hair is qualified for perming by conducting a strand test. First, take a few hair strands and drop them into a glass of water. Damaged and dry hair will quickly absorb the water in the glass and sink into the bottom.

If this is your case, perming causes further harm to your hair, and you should not do it. Otherwise, healthy strands still stay on the upper portion of the glass, and you’re safe to get a perm.

For bleached and colored hair, you should not ignore this test, or the damages can be unimaginable.

If a strand test is not your favorite, here is another way to check your hair health for perming. Pour some perming solution and put some strands of hair in it.

Next, add some neutralizer and let it sit here for around 15 minutes. The hair coming out of the solution should not feel dry and brittle for you to proceed to permit. Otherwise, you should think twice!

The Right Timing To Perm Your Bleached Or Dyed Hair

Perming Before Coloring

Depending on the texture and condition of your hair, you should wait for at least 7-14 days to dye your hair after perming. Perming might lighten the hair color.

Having the dyeing performed first means that the hair might be lightened even further than desired or that the hue you initially wanted is distorted.

Hence, between perming and coloring, it’s best to do the perming first so you are sure to get the desired color.

Coloring Before Perming

If you choose to color your hair first, it is advised to wait for at least one week, before committing to the other treatment. Doing so will allow your strands to have a break from chemicals and more ready to deal with further damage.

In the meantime, you can restore your hair to health by using hair care products for color treated hair and your hair type. A color protection shampoo can be a great investment to safeguard your colored hair.

Why There Should Be A Break Between The Two Processes?

Both perming and bleaching require the use of very powerful chemicals, which react to the most internal part of the hair strand and also alter the natural structure.

Thus, allowing a break between the two processes is necessary as your hair is not strong enough to constantly withstand great damage.

If you head to perm your hair after you finish dyeing, or the other way round, your hair will suffer greatly. In most cases, the strands are extremely dry, brittle, and split at the ends.

They will likely form like gum, and in the worst case scenario, a large amount of hair will fall out for all parts of the scalp. When this happens, there is no viable remedy rather than trimming off the damaged parts.

How To Care Your Bleached, Permed Hair

Bleached, permed hair calls for more demanding maintenance than virgin hair. Below are a few tips you can follow to keep your perms as much healthy and bouncy as possible:

  • Wait For At Least 48 Hours To Wash Your Hair

This amount of time will allow your curls to form and hold properly. If you shampoo your hair within this timeframe, the chemicals in the shampoo might clash with the perm cream, causing the locks not to define as desired as well as ruining your strands.

  • Deep Condition Your Permed Hair

Curly hair craves moisture! The waves and curls make it hard for the natural oils to reach the ends, resulting in drier locks of hair.

To keep your hair in better condition, you should deep condition it at least twice a week to provide it the much-needed moisture. After a couple of weeks have passed, you can cut down on the frequency of deep conditioning to once a week.

  • Use Sulfate-Free Shampoo And Olaplex Treatment

It pays to switch from normal shampoo to sulfate-free one as it does a better job of keeping your permed hair moisturized.

This type of shampoo is more gentle on your scalp and won’t strip your hair off the natural oils. On the other hand, Olaplex treatment is designed to work with the internal parts of the hair to strengthen it.

  • Stay Away From Heat

Blow drying cannot only loosen the curls, but also lead to more frizz and damage. Therefore, you are better off using a soft towel to air dry your locks after shampooing.

In case you need to use a hair dryer, keep in mind to combine it with a diffuser and only at cool settings to avoid frizz.

  • Use Comb And Brush For Permed Hair

You should treat your permed hair like it’s naturally curly, and it begins with choosing the right tools.

Wide-toothed comb and soft brush are the best friends of your gorgeous curls, so do not skimp on them!

  • Protect Your Locks From The Sun And Chlorine

Don’t forget to put on a scarf or hat before heading out in the sun. A zinc-based leave-in conditioner is also highly recommended to shield your strands from UV rays.

In addition, chlorinated water might have disastrous effects on your luscious curls, always make sure that you wear a cap when swimming to minimize the contact with chlorine.

Recommendations And Warnings

Bleaching and perming are not meant to be done on the same day. After bleaching, you should take a break and wait for at least two weeks to do a perm.

Of course, there are still salons where dyeing and perming are performed on the same day. Our only advice is to stay away from them since taking a break in between these chemical processes directly affects your hair’s health.

Professional Stylists Are Your Best Friends

Bleaching, in particular, is the most destructive chemical process that you do to your hair. The hair’s interior structure suffers greatly after getting bleached, so you don’t want to take a step further to destroy it.

For this reason, you should turn to professional stylists to get a perm. They have the expertise and experience to evaluate your specific case and hair conditions to give the right advice.

It’s Best To Rely On Professional Stylists For Such Serious Chemical Process As Perming
It’s Best To Rely On Professional Stylists For Such Serious Chemical Process As Perming

How To Perm Bleached And Dyed Hair?

What You’ll Need

  • Perm kit for bleached or dyed hair
  • Neutral shampoo (free of harsh chemicals)
  • Rat Tail Comb
  • Curling rods

Step-By-Step Instructions

Step 1: Wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo to remove mineral build-ups from water and hair care products.

Step 2: Dry your hair completely and brush it to detangle any knots.

Step 3: Section your hair into small, equal parts of the same thickness. It’s worth paying attention to this step to ensure uniform curls and waves.

Step 4: Take out a thin strand from one section using a rat tail comb. Next, wrap it around the curlers or curling rods. Repeat the same technique for the rest of the sections.

Step 5: Add the perming solution onto the rods and let your hair sit on them for 5 minutes.

The leave-in time might vary across perming kit brands, so make sure you check it in your specific case. Never exceed the recommended time since you’ll end up with dry and crispy curls and waves.

Step 6: Detach the rods from your hair. If the waves are not visible, you can re-wrap your hair into the curling rods and wait for another 2 minutes.

Step 7: Once the waves take their S form, rinse your hair with warm water with the curlers still on your hair.

Step 8: Use a soft towel to dry your hair to remove the excess moisture (still with the curlers on).

Step 9: Apply the neutralizing liquid to all the curling rods and wait 10 minutes.

Step 10: Rinse off the solution with warm water.

Step 11: Dry the hair with a blow dryer.

Step 12: Once the hair has dried, gently detach the rods from your hair.

Step 13: Wait for at least 3 days to wash your hair with your neutral shampoo. In the meantime, you should also not brush your hair and only detangle it with your fingers.

Check out this video by Hair 101 with April for detailed tutorials on how to perm your hair:

Tips On How To Take Care Bleached And Permed Hair

Check out the tips below to know how should you look after you bleached and permed hair:

Before Perming

Make Sure You’re Not Perming Actively Breaking Hair.

If you notice your hair is religiously breaking or seriously damaged, the only thing you can do is to find out the root cause and solutions first to restore your hair to health.

Only when your strands return to its good condition should you proceed to perm it.

During Perming

Always Keep A Timer Nearby.

Whether you are bleaching, coloring, or perming your hair, always place a timer nearby once you apply the chemicals to your strands.

It will make sure you always achieve the optimal amount of time for the chemicals  to process.

After Perming

Treat Your Hair Gently

Do not be rough on your newly permed hair as you usually would with straight strands. Be gentle or you’ll risk further mechanical damage to your hair.

It is important to avoid treating your hair with heat in the first few weeks. Also, make sure you do not touch it for at least 48 hours.

Besides, you should let your hair loose, so that the curls can define without any disruption. This means hair styling, such as ponytails or tight hairstyles, is a big no after perming.

Skip Shampooing For 48 Hours After Perming

After perming your hair, you should wait for 48 hours to wash it. This is because hastily shampooing your hair can prevent the curls from getting defined as you expected.

The chemicals in the shampoo can also change how the perm cream chemicals function if you wash your hair too soon.

Choose Sulfate-Free Shampoo

Perming your bleach or color-treated hair can strip it off the moisture and make it drier. As mentioned above, the internal bonds are also affected to a great extent by the chemicals in perming products.

It’s best to wash your permed hair with a sulfate-free shampoo to rejuvenate and strengthen these bonds.

Invest In A New Brush

Tuck away your old hairbrush that is not meant for permed hair! This hairdo calls for a wide-toothed and soft brush so you won’t distort its form.

Deep Condition Your Permed Hair

You may want to use a deep conditioner to minimize the damage to your hair. Do it twice a week (pair it with hair masks) in a few first weeks following the perming.

Once the hair gets better, you can reduce the treatment frequency to once a week.

Visit Hair Spa

If your budget permits or you feel like your strands are under-nourished, you can go to a hair spa once or twice a month.

They will replenish your hair with the much-needed moisture and nourishments for healthy strands.


So, is it safe to perm bleached or color treated hair? The answer will depend on your hair conditions. If it’s still in good condition after being treated with bleaching and dyeing chemicals, you can get a perm.

However, for newly bleached and dyed hair, it’s best to give your strands a break to recover, say at least two weeks for bleaching and one week for coloring. Keep in mind to follow this rule to keep damage to a minimum.

If the perming process is done right and you know how to take care of your hair, there’s nothing wrong with you getting this hairdo after doing hair color services!

Edna Feber

I’m Edna. I'm here to guide you about hair products and maintenance tips. You'll fine here product reviews regarding hair tools, hair color, hair care and more along with tips to keep your hair healthy!

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