Do Perms Help Oily Hair?

Perming can sometimes help control oil.

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When it comes to your tresses, you want to look sleek, not slick, which makes oily hair a major beauty problem. One approach to tackle your oil issue is to perm your hair. This doesn't work for everybody, but it can help physically prevent the oil from moving down your hair strands.

Perms and Your Cuticles

If you could look at your hair under a microscope, you'd see that the outer layer of your strands, the cuticle, is actually made up of thousands of little scales. These are made of a tough protein called keratin. Normally, all the scales overlap one another, forming a protective layer against moisture loss and damage from the environment. It's way easier for the oils from your scalp to travel down your tresses when your cuticles lay flat the way they should. When you have your stylist perm your locks, however, the chemicals from the perm roughen up the scales, making them lift.

Positive Impact of Cuticle Change

The fact that perms roughen up your cuticles makes it pretty tough, although not impossible, for the oils from your scalp to travel down your hair. The fact you've got extra curls, making your hair less vertical, makes it even harder for oil to travel down your hair strands. Your hair might feel less slick as a result.

On the Other Hand

It's true that perming your hair can keep oil from moving around on your tresses; however, it doesn't necessarily mean your scalp stops producing oil. At best, your oils will be confined closer to your roots, which for some fashionistas can mean a real battle with oil buildup and scalp acne. In some cases, perming can dry out your scalp. That can make your skin go into overdrive and produce even more oil than usual as it tries to stabilize itself. You also have to think about the fact your permed hair still needs protection. In fact, it needs even more than before you permed it because the roughed up cuticles mean more moisture loss and exposure to the environment. This can leave your hair brittle and dull. If not enough oil is getting to the middle and bottom of your tresses, you might have to use conditioning treatments such as a good permed-hair conditioner, shea butter or jojoba oil.

The Bottom Line

Perming as a way to control oily locks can be somewhat effective, but unless you take steps to address the damage a perm can cause, it might actually make things worse. It might be better to use other tricks, such as shampooing more often and using dry conditioners, to deal with the excess oil.

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