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Can You Bleach Permed Hair?

Are you thinking about changing the look of your locks?

Bleaching and perming are two of the most popular types of hair treatments. However, each is fairly tough on hair, so you want to apply them safely.

Bleaching permed hair is a fairly sophisticated process. If not done correctly, your hair can wind up severely damaged.


Can you bleach permed hair?

Yes, but only if you’re careful. Here’s a closer look at the do’s and don’ts of bleaching permed hair.


Bleaching and Perms: An Overview

Before combining these two techniques, it’s important to understand how each works individually.


hair perming

Short for “permanent wave,” a perm is a technique that creates curls and waves in the hair. It’s applied using a two-step process. First, the hair is wrapped around rods. Then, a chemical treatment is applied to set the curls in place.

The perm process typically takes a few hours to complete. Once finished, you need to wait three days before washing your hair and one week before brushing it. Most perms last about six months before the curls start to relax. 



hair bleaching

Bleaching your hair is not the same as dyeing it. Instead of adding color, bleaching strips out the pigment. It’s an effective way to lighten hair three or four shades. With enough bleach, hair can become platinum blonde.

Of all the processes a person can apply to their hair, bleaching is easily one of the harshest. If too much bleach is used, the scalp can blister and burn. Additionally, bleach can potentially damage hair follicles, reducing softness and increasing the likelihood of breakage.


Bleaching Permed Hair

bleaching permed hair

Both bleaching and perming change hair on a fundamental level. They each open the cuticle, which alters its shape, color, and structure. Performing both processes together will put far too much stress on hair.

Can you bleach permed hair in one session at the salon? No way. You won’t find any professional stylist who will bleach and perm a client’s hair on the same day – or even the same week.

Instead, experts recommended waiting at least two weeks between perming and bleaching. Note that two weeks is the absolute minimum. Waiting anywhere from a month to even 45 days between the two procedures is the safest option.


The Strand Test

Before bleaching permed hair, or performing a perm on bleached hair, you’ll want to perform a strand test. It’s a quick way to determine the strength of your hair. There are two types of strand tests you can perform at home.

The first is the water test. Cut or pluck a few strands of hair from your head. Place them in a glass of water and watch what happens:

  • If the strands sink to the bottom of the glass, that signals the hair is soaking up water because it’s dry. Bleaching or perming your hair is not recommended.
  • If the strands float, your hair is hydrated enough that bleaching or perming is likely safe.

The other test you can perform requires perming solution and neutralizer. Place the strands in the perming solution. After about a minute, transfer it to the neutralizer. Then, remove and examine it. If it doesn’t look dry and brittle, you can proceed with either perming or bleaching.


How to Take Care of Bleached, Permed Hair

How to Take Care of Bleached, Permed Hair

After bleaching your permed hair, you’ll need to follow specific care instructions to keep it healthy.

First, don’t shampoo your hair for at least 24 hours. Many experts recommend waiting at least two nights. When it’s time to start washing your hair, you’ll need a shampoo and a conditioner designed to deliver extra moisture. 

If your hair is excessively dry, you should skip the shampoo and only use conditioner. After applying the deep conditioner, rinse thoroughly with cold water. Then, gently squeeze your hair dry. Don’t rub your hair vigorously, as doing so can result in breakage.  

Finally, apply a leave-in conditioner while your hair is still damp. Use your fingers to run the conditioner through your hair. When your hair dries naturally, comb anti-frizz serum through it to help maintain the curls of the perm. 


Alternatives to Bleaching and Perming

Many times, safer alternatives exist to perming and bleaching your hair.

Can you dye permed hair? Yes. In fact, if you have a perm and want a lighter hair color, dyeing is a better way to go than bleaching. You can lighten your hair several shades, and dye is much less harsh than bleach.

Typically, bleaching is only necessary if you have extremely dark hair or if you want a true platinum blonde look.

If you have bleached hair but want to add curls, try using a curling iron. While the effects usually don’t last more than a day, a curling iron is far less stressful on hair than a perm.


Final Thoughts

Combining bleach with a perm can potentially damage your hair and burn your scalp. Never perform the two processes back to back. Instead, wait about a month between each technique.

Fortunately, if you follow the strategies outlined above, you can not only stay safe but also have great-looking, stylish hair!