If You Straighten a Perm Will It Go Back Curly?

If You Straighten a Perm Will It Go Back Curly?

As a hairstyling expert, I have encountered many clients who have experimented with different styles and treatments on their hair. One common question that arises is if you straighten a perm, will it go back curly? This article will provide valuable insights into this topic and help you make informed decisions about your hair care routine.

So, what happens when you straighten a perm? The answer is that your curls may not return to their original state after straightening. Perms work by breaking the disulfide bonds in your hair and then reforming them to create a new curl pattern. When you straighten permed hair, the heat can further break and alter those bonds, making it difficult for the hair to revert to its permed state. By following the guidance in this article, however, you can learn how to safely straighten permed hair and potentially restore your curls afterward. Keep reading to discover the best practices and tips for managing your permed hair.

What Happens When You Straighten a Perm?

When you straighten a perm, the heat from the styling tool breaks the disulfide bonds that were reformed during the perming process, causing the hair to lose its curly pattern. This alteration in the hair structure can lead to a loss of curl and texture, making it challenging for the hair to return to its original permed state. However, depending on the strength of the perm and the method used to straighten the hair, some curls may still bounce back after washing.

The impact of straightening permed hair largely depends on factors such as the type of perm, the condition of the hair before perming, and the kind of heat styling tool used. For instance, using a high-quality heat protectant before straightening can help minimize damage and increase the chances of your curls returning. Additionally, the more frequently you straighten your permed hair, the higher the likelihood of permanently altering the curl pattern.

According to a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Science, when permed hair is exposed to temperatures above 300°F (150°C), the disulfide bonds responsible for the curl pattern are more likely to break. Consequently, it’s crucial to use a lower temperature setting when straightening permed hair to reduce the risk of damaging the disulfide bonds and maintain the integrity of your curls.

The Science Behind Perms and Straightening

Perms and straightening treatments both involve altering the hair’s internal structure to achieve a desired texture and style. The primary component responsible for the hair’s shape is a protein called keratin, which contains disulfide bonds that determine how straight or curly the hair appears. Both perms and straightening treatments work by breaking and reforming these disulfide bonds.

If You Straighten a Perm, Will It Go Back Curly?

If You Straighten a Perm, Will It Go Back Curly?

During a perming process, chemicals like ammonium thioglycolate or glyceryl monothioglycolate are used to break the disulfide bonds in the hair. Once the bonds are broken, the hair is wrapped around rods or rollers to create the desired curl pattern. A neutralizing solution is then applied to the hair, allowing the disulfide bonds to reform and lock the new curl pattern into place.

When it comes to straightening, heat is used to break the disulfide bonds temporarily. Flat irons, blow dryers, or other heat-styling tools apply heat to the hair, causing the bonds to weaken and the hair shaft to become malleable. This allows the hair to be reshaped into a straightened form. However, this process can also cause damage to the hair, especially when used on permed hair. The combination of chemical and heat treatments can lead to weakened, brittle hair that is more susceptible to breakage and loss of curl pattern.

How to Safely Straighten Permed Hair

Straightening permed hair requires extra care to minimize potential damage and maintain the integrity of the curls. It is crucial to use the right products, tools, and techniques when attempting to straighten permed hair. By following a few essential guidelines, you can safely straighten your permed hair without compromising its curl pattern.

Firstly, always use a heat protectant spray or serum before applying heat to your hair. This will help to shield the hair shaft from excessive heat and reduce the likelihood of damage. Secondly, choose a high-quality flat iron with adjustable temperature settings. Opt for a lower heat setting, ideally below 300°F (150°C), to prevent breaking the disulfide bonds that create the curl pattern.

When straightening, work in small sections and avoid multiple passes with the flat iron. This will help to limit heat exposure and reduce the risk of damage. Finally, after straightening, it’s essential to nourish and hydrate your hair. Use a deep conditioning treatment or hair mask to replenish moisture and strengthen the hair strands. By following these precautions, you can safely straighten your permed hair while maintaining its overall health and curl pattern.

Pros and Cons of Straightening Permed Hair

Straightening permed hair can provide a temporary change in style and appearance, but it also comes with potential drawbacks. Understanding the pros and cons of straightening permed hair will help you make an informed decision on whether this is the right choice for your hair care needs.


  • Temporary change in style: Straightening permed hair allows you to enjoy a different look without committing to a permanent change.
  • Versatility: Having the option to switch between curly and straight styles can be appealing, especially for special occasions or events.
  • Increased manageability: For some individuals, straight hair may be easier to maintain and style compared to curly hair.


  • Potential damage: The combination of chemical treatments from the perm and heat from the straightening process can weaken the hair structure and lead to breakage or dryness.
  • Loss of curl pattern: Repeatedly straightening permed hair can cause the disulfide bonds responsible for maintaining the curls to break permanently, resulting in the loss of the original curl pattern.
  • Extra time and effort: Straightening permed hair requires additional care, such as using heat protectants and choosing the appropriate heat settings, to minimize damage and maintain the integrity of the curls.

Weighing the pros and cons of straightening permed hair can help you decide if this styling option aligns with your hair care goals and preferences. Keep in mind that maintaining the health of your hair should always be a top priority, regardless of the styling choices you make.

Tips for Maintaining Curly Perms After Straightening

After straightening your permed hair, it is essential to take proper care of it to restore and maintain the curl pattern. By following a few simple tips, you can ensure that your curls bounce back and remain healthy despite the heat treatment.

To help preserve your curly perm after straightening, consider the following suggestions:

  • Wash your hair with gentle, sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners specifically designed for curly or chemically treated hair. These products will help to cleanse and hydrate your hair without stripping away natural oils or further damaging your curls.
  • Use deep conditioning treatments or hair masks at least once a week to replenish moisture and repair any damage caused by the straightening process. Look for products containing nourishing ingredients such as keratin, argan oil, or shea butter.
  • Incorporate protein treatments into your hair care routine to strengthen the hair shaft and minimize breakage. However, be cautious not to overuse protein treatments, as excessive use can lead to brittle hair.
  • Avoid excessive heat styling after straightening your permed hair. Limit the use of heat tools like flat irons, curling wands, and blow dryers to prevent further damage to your hair and curls.
  • Apply a leave-in conditioner or curl-defining cream to damp hair after washing to help maintain the curl pattern and keep your hair moisturized throughout the day.
  • Sleep on a satin or silk pillowcase to reduce friction and frizz, preserving the shape and texture of your curls.

By incorporating these tips into your hair care routine, you can effectively maintain the health and appearance of your curly perm even after straightening.

Can You Restore Your Curls After Straightening a Perm?

Restoring your curls after straightening a perm can be challenging but not impossible. The extent to which your curls bounce back depends on factors such as the strength of your perm, how often you’ve straightened your hair, and the overall health of your hair. Implementing proper hair care practices can increase the likelihood of your curls returning to their original state after straightening.

To help restore your curls, focus on providing your hair with ample hydration and nourishment. Use sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners specifically designed for curly or chemically treated hair, and incorporate deep conditioning treatments or hair masks into your routine. Avoid excessive heat styling and opt for gentle, heat-free methods to style your hair, such as using a diffuser when blow-drying or air drying your hair and scrunching it with a microfiber towel.

Keep in mind that if your hair has been repeatedly exposed to heat and chemical treatments, it may be more difficult to restore the curl pattern. In some cases, you may need to wait for new hair growth or consider getting another perm treatment to regain your desired curls. Always consult with a hairstylist or professional before undergoing any chemical treatments to ensure the health and safety of your hair.

Conclusion: To Wrap Up

In summary, straightening permed hair can provide a temporary change in style and appearance, but it comes with potential risks to the health and structure of your hair. By following proper hair care practices and techniques, you can minimize damage and maintain the integrity of your curls after straightening. Remember that patience and consistency are essential when attempting to restore your curls, and always prioritize the health of your hair in your styling decisions.

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