Types of Perms for Long Hair

Make sure you pick the perfect perm for you.

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Just as long hair comes in a variety of colors and textures, there are several types of perms for long hair. The type of perm you choose will be based on what type, and size, of curl you want. Hate tight perms and want a barely-there wave? There's a perm for that. Want curls that stand out and get noticed? You got it! No matter what type of curls you crave there's a perm technique designed to deliver.

Rod to Roller Perms

A transfer perm is a two-step perming process aimed at giving longer hair a big, loose curl with the strength of a smaller-curled perm --- perfect for those who want barely-there volume but whose hair typically doesn't hold body perms well. The first perm is wrapped using a traditional, horizontal perm wrap. The perm rod used will be small enough to create a firm wave in the hair, but not so small as to create a poodle-like perm. Now here's where it gets interesting. After the perm solution is rinsed, the perm rods are carefully unwrapped, two at a time, and wound around a large roller. This creates a larger, wave-like curl that has the staying power of a tighter perm. This method is generally used for those who want a body wave, but whose hair is hard to curl and won't keep a larger wave.

Body Waves

Body waves are designed to give big, loose curl to your hair. How big and loose will entirely depend on the size of the curling tool used. Most body perms use large perm rods (purple or orange in color), but more creative salons may have larger rollers to create a really delicate wave for those who like their perms subtle. The hair is wrapped in sections that suit the size of the curling tool, and perm solution and neutralizer are applied as they would be in a typical perm. As a general rule, the longer your hair is, the larger the curling tool or perm rod should be or you'll likely end up with more curl than you wanted.

Spiral Perms

Popular in the '80s and early '90s, these perms create small, corkscrew-like curls in long hair. This perm is designed for women with long hair, either layered or not (but the layers must be long), who desire well-defined, spiral shaped curls from root to tip. The wrapping technique involves wrapping very small sections of hair around a specially-designed spiral perm rod. The hair is processed like a typical perm and the end result is a very noticeable corkscrew curl that will greatly increase the overall volume of the hair. This is for someone who really loves curl, because spiral perms don't leave until they're eventually cut out of the hair.

Piggyback Perm

The piggyback perm is a variation of the spiral perm. Sometimes a woman's hair is so long or thick that it's just too much for a typical spiral perm. When hair is exceptionally long, even wrapping very small sections of hair around a perm rod causes crowding. Too much hair, and the curl at the ends of the hair will be much curlier than the barely-there bumps you'll get at the roots. To solve this problem, each small section of hair is wrapped using two perm rods. The first perm rod is used to wrap the hair from the mid-shaft to the root, and the remaining hair is wrapped in the second perm rod. The second rod sits on top of the first one, essentially giving it a "piggyback" ride. Cute name, and a great technique for you Rapunzel lookalikes out there.

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