In the ever-evolving realm of hair care and styling, the choice between perms and relaxers remains a pivotal decision for those looking to transform their locks. Both methods offer unique ways to alter the natural texture of hair, but the differences between them extend far beyond the surface. Understanding the nuances of perms and relaxers is essential for anyone seeking to achieve their desired look while maintaining healthy and vibrant hair. As we embark on this exploration of Perms vs Relaxers, we’ll delve into the fundamental distinctions between these two popular hair treatments.

I. Perms vs Relaxers: What are They?

 Perms and relaxers are hair treatments that alter the natural texture of hair, but they work in opposite ways.

1. What is A Perm?

 Perms, short for permanents, are designed to create curls or waves in straight hair. Perms are applied to naturally straight hair and the aim is to introduce curls to the hair. A perm involves applying a chemical solution to break and reshape the hair’s natural bonds. After the solution is applied, the hair is wrapped around rods or rollers to give it the desired curl or wave pattern. The chemicals used in perms typically include ammonium thioglycolate or glyceryl mono thioglycolate to soften and reform the hair structure. The result is curly or wavy hair that can last for several weeks to months, depending on the hair type and care.


2. What is Relaxer?


 Relaxer is the permanent hair straightening method. The hair relaxer will stretch the natural curl pattern or tightly curled hair depending on the strength and the timing of the chemical. The relaxer is a creamy paste that gets applied directly onto the hair avoiding the scalp. A relaxer contains chemicals, such as sodium hydroxide or calcium hydroxide, that break down the protein bonds in the hair, allowing it to become straight. The relaxer is applied to the hair, left on for a specific amount of time, and then neutralized to stop the chemical process. The result of a relaxer treatment is straightened hair, and the effects can last until new hair growth occurs.

II. Perms vs Relaxers: Pros and Cons

 For some, the allure of bouncy curls and defined waves draws them towards perms, while others crave the sleek, straightened look achieved through relaxers. Let’s delve into the pros and cons of each to help you gain insights that will help you make an informed decision about which path to take for your hair transformation.

1. Hair Perms:


  • Long-lasting curls: As the name suggests, a perm is a relatively long-lasting treatment compared to temporary styling methods. The results can last for several weeks to a few months, depending on your hair type and the perm technique used.
  • Low-maintenance styling: Permed hair often requires less styling effort daily. The curls or waves are already set in place, reducing the need for constant heat styling or curling.
  • Versatility: You can choose from various perm styles, ranging from loose waves to tight curls. This allows you to achieve a variety of looks that can suit your personal style and preferences.
  • Texture enhancement: Perms can add volume and texture to fine or straight hair, providing more body and movement to the hair.


  • Damage to the hair: The chemicals used in the perm process can be harsh and may cause damage to the hair. This damage can lead to dryness, breakage, and split ends, especially if the hair is not properly cared for post-perm.
  • Regrowth and maintenance: As your hair grows, the new growth will be straight, which can result in a noticeable contrast between the permed and natural sections. Regular touch-ups or maintenance sessions may be required to keep the curls uniform.
  • Risk of over-processing: Over-processing can occur if the perm solution is left on the hair for too long or if the hair is excessively fragile. This can lead to overly tight curls, excessive damage, or even hair breakage.

2. Hair Relaxer:


  • Straightening Effect: Hair relaxers are effective in straightening curly or kinky hair, providing a smoother and sleeker appearance.
  • Manageability: Relaxed hair is often easier to manage and style, requiring less time and effort for daily maintenance.
  • Versatility: Relaxed hair can be styled in various ways, allowing for versatility in hairstyles.
  • Long-Lasting Results: Hair relaxers provide semi-permanent results, meaning the effects can last for several weeks or even months, depending on hair growth.


  • Chemical Damage: The chemicals in hair relaxers can cause damage to the hair shaft, leading to breakage, split ends, and overall weakening of the hair.
  • Scalp Irritation: The scalp can be sensitive to the chemicals in relaxers, leading to irritation, redness, or burning sensations. Improper application or leaving the relaxer on for too long can exacerbate these issues.
  • Maintenance Requirements: Relaxed hair requires careful maintenance to minimize damage and breakage.

III. Detailed Differences Between Perms And Relaxers

 Perms and relaxers are both chemical treatments used to alter the natural texture of hair, but they work in different ways and have distinct effects on the hair structure. Here are the detailed differences between perms and relaxers:

Perms vs Relaxers Differences #1: Chemical Composition

 The main chemical used in perms is ammonium thioglycolate. This chemical softens and swells the hair shaft, allowing it to be reshaped and restructured into curls or waves. While relaxers typically contain sodium hydroxide (lye relaxers), calcium hydroxide (no-lye relaxers), or guanidine hydroxide. These chemicals break the protein bonds in the hair, allowing it to be straightened.

Perms vs Relaxers Differences #2: Application Process

 During a perm, the hair is first wrapped around rods or rollers, and then the perm solution is applied. The solution softens the hair, and the rods or rollers determine the size and shape of the curls. While relaxers are applied directly to the hair, and they are typically left on for a specific amount of time based on the desired level of straightening. The relaxer is then rinsed out, and often a neutralizing shampoo is used to stop the chemical process.

Hair Perms
Hair Relexers

Perms vs Relaxers Differences #3: Results

 The result of a perm is a head of hair with curls or waves, depending on the desired outcome and the size of the rods or rollers used during the process. Relaxers result in straightened hair, eliminating the natural curls or waves. The degree of straightening depends on factors like the type of relaxer used, application time, and the hair’s natural texture.


Perms vs Relaxers Differences #4: Maintenance

 Perms are generally considered low maintenance. Once the hair is permed, the curls or waves remain until new hair growth occurs. While relaxers require regular touch-ups as new hair grows in with the natural texture. The frequency of touch-ups depends on the individual’s hair growth rate.

IV. Conclusion

 In conclusion, the choice between perms and relaxers ultimately depends on individual preferences, hair type, and desired results. Both methods offer unique benefits and challenges, so it’s crucial to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision.

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