How to Use a Perm to Straighten Hair

While the thought of a perm may bring to mind root-to-tip ringlets, perms can be used to achieve a sleek look too. The treatment applied to hair during a perm smooths the cuticle, and allows it to mold to the shape that it is set in. If curlers are not applied after the solution, the hair will only be smoothed. Use a perm to straighten your hair, and enjoy more manageable tresses for up to three months.

Perms can be performed in salons, or at home using a kit. (Image: Milan Markovic/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

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Pull on an old T-shirt, and a pair of gloves to protect your hands from the solution. Perm kits will usually come with plastic gloves.

Step 2

Pour the perm solution into a bowl. Use a product formulated for color-treated or damaged hair. Straightening hair requires less strength than curling hair, and these formulas are gentler and less damaging.

Step 3

(Image: Konstantin Tavrov/iStock/Getty Images)

Dip a color brush into the solution and position it at the root of your hair. Drag it down until you reach 2 inches from the root. Repeat over the entire crown of your head.

Step 4

Insert a fine-tooth comb at the root of your hair, at the front of your hairline, and drag it down until the ends of the hair pass through the teeth. Repeat 10 times, and move on to the next section. Repeat over your entire head to distribute the perm and smooth the cuticle.

Step 5

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Allow the perm to set in your hair for 15 minutes, or the amount of time indicated on the product packaging. Rinse your hair with warm water while pulling your fingertips through it from root to tip for five minutes.

Step 6

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Gently blot the ends of your hair dry with a towel. Do not rub, because this can damage the ends. Use a microfiber towel or paper towels, which are gentler on strands than regular towels.

Step 7

(Image: Kamil Macniak/iStock/Getty Images)

Comb your hair from root to tip with a wide-tooth comb to remove any knots. Pour a golf-ball-sized amount of neutralizer into your gloved hand, and pull it through your hair, coating it completely. Neutralizers, which come in perm kits, seal the cuticles to keep the straight look intact.

Step 8

Leave the neutralizer in your hair for five minutes and rinse it out with warm water. Gently blot the ends dry and style as desired.

Things You'll Need

  • T-shirt

  • Gloves

  • Hair clips

  • Perm solution

  • Bowl

  • Color brush

  • Towel

  • Wide-tooth comb


Do not wash your hair for 48 hours, and don't tie it up with elastics for three days -- these things could alter the shape of the perm.


Keep the perm solution away from your eyes, nose and mouth. Have a friend help you apply it if necessary.

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