Root Perms: What Are They And Who Are They For?

Nothing downgrades your look like lifeless, flat hair, which is often the result of excess sebum, dirt, and product residues that accumulate on the scalp over time. The climate, your diet, and hair-styling habits can also have an adverse impact on your hair. It's hard to style your hair when it looks visibly weighed down at the roots — unless you're going for a slicked-back look. To achieve a full-blown, voluminous mane that bounces in rhythm as you move, you need to follow a tailored hair care routine long-term and keep some transformative hair styling techniques up your sleeve.

That said, if you want to skip all the dos and don'ts of hair styling and just get out of bed with Victoria's Secret-worthy bounce, look no further than root perms. This hair treatment can give your sapless roots a long-term touch-up and make your hair speak volumes with minimal effort. For example, a root perm can spare you the need to wind your locks into rollers every night, tease your hair, or switch your part to make your hair look thicker. Here's everything you need to know about root perms — an innovative treatment that helps you say goodbye to flat roots and hello to more wind in your hair.

What is a root perm

When your hair is so flat and limp that it can't hold volume, the root problem is usually in the roots. "The key to keeping flat hair at bay is by focusing on lifting the roots," hairstylist Elena Diaz tells All Things Hair. That's why a root perm tackles flat hair problems by targeting areas close to the scalp.

"Root perms can provide everything from a subtle volume boost at the roots to curls, depending on the technique chosen," hairstylist Briana Dunning tells Byrdie. Designed to create more volume and add extra lift to the roots, a root perm treatment targets the root area of the hair only and is only applied to the first two to three inches of the hair, says Dunning. Besides, if you've already gotten your hair permed, treating the hair at the base minimizes the risks of damaging the rest of your hair.

A root perm involves treating the hair with a chemical solution and perm rods to make long-term changes to its texture. This type of hair treatment contains perm solutions that are strong enough to penetrate the hair shaft, break the bonds that determine your natural hair texture, and alter them to give hair strands a new shape and texture. A root perm can be performed on straight, curly, or wavy hair.

What happens during a root perm

Korean root perms, which lend subtle volume to hair roots, are the most popular at the moment. Typically, a root perm procedure begins with your hairdresser washing your hair, so don't wash it before arriving at the salon, explains Dunning. After washing your hair, your hairdresser will part it into sections, apply a chemical solution to your roots, and wind your hair into perm rods. After application, the solution will be left to sit on your head for 20 minutes. Depending on your hair type and the solution your hairdresser recommends, the preparation solution may or may not include heat.

After the preparation solution has worked into your roots, your hair will go through a second rinsing session for roughly 10 minutes. Then, your hairdresser will coat your hair with a second solution to set your hair into its new shape, letting it sit on your hair for five to seven minutes. After that, your hairdresser will rinse your hair for the final time and remove the rods. In the final step, your hair will be blow-dried or diffused. You will notice a visible lift in your roots once the styling is done. For 48 hours following the treatment, take care to not let your hair get wet or sweaty. After that, you're free to wash and style your born-again hair as you like.

Types of root perms

A perm is a process in which harsh chemicals and heat are used to break the bonds that determine the shape and texture of your natural hair, altering your hair into a permanent wavy or curly style. Perms are a great option for anyone looking to introduce more texture to their mane or those with curly hair who want to make their curl patterns more uniform.

Perms are not a new concept. They have been all the rage with hair enthusiasts since the early 1900s. Yet, now and then, a new variety of perm emerges and gets hair fans hyped again. For example, spiral perms and stack perms featuring super tight, whipped cream-inspired curls and ringlets were the in-thing in the 1970s and 1980s, with celebrities such as Dolly Parton, Whitney Houston, Stevie Nicks, Brooke Shields, Madonna, and Cher rocking these iconic hairstyles at the peak of their careers. Modern perms allow you to experiment with more looks with less hair damage. For instance, digital perm, a hot method of perming using digitally heated rods, creates natural soft curls and gives a pronounced wave on more resistant hair. For those looking to add more body or bounce to their hair sans the coils and curls, a volumizing perm or a beach wave perm is a good choice.

How long does root perms last

Depending on the perm you choose, how fast your hair grows, and how well you take care of your permed hair, perms can last anywhere from two to 10 months. For the first two or three days, refrain from wetting your hair or tying it up tightly to avoid breaking the strands. It's also worth pointing out that root perms look best on short or shoulder-length hair. When the hair is too long and heavy, it's hard for the root perm to show results.

While a root perm allows you to put less time and effort into hair styling, you still have to take the necessary steps to maintain the results. It is recommended that you blow-dry the roots of your hair after each wash to keep it from getting weighed down by excess water. Before blow-drying your roots, towel-dry your hair and spray some root-boosting lotion on your roots to thicken your hair strands and lend them extra volume and grip.

Who can benefit from root perms

Root perms are generally safe on all hair types as long as the hair follicles are not badly damaged by bleach or heat styling products, hairstylist Mateo Lara tells Byrdie. Since perms involve harsh chemicals, they work best on healthy or untreated hair. If you have virgin hair, but you'd like a change from your usual go-to hairstyles, a perm can help you achieve a new hair shape and texture with minimal damage and upkeep.

Those with flat, straight hair who want to add more volume and restore bounce can also benefit from root perms. People with curl patterns that drop over time can use root perms as a maintenance technique to add curls to their new hair growth. As far as styling goes, perms are also a healthier alternative to hot tools like curling or straightening irons. "It is less damaging, and you can toss the hot tools to hold the volume and curl. You can have a perm with a larger rod and air dry," hairstylist Priscilla Valles tells Refinery29.

On the other hand, if you're looking to tame frizz, a keratin treatment will give you more desirable results than a perm. Those with fine hair should also think twice before going for root perms since they might not yield the results visible in other hair types.

Styling ideas for root perms

There's no reason why you should not jazz up your hairstyles after having your roots lifted. One of the hairstyles that complements root perms tremendously is a shag cut. Boasting multiple layers, a shag can add more body and movement to curly or wavy hair as well as make fine hair look thicker. "A shag cut is great for allowing the client with natural curls the opportunity to wear something different and have a 'look' rather than the tendency for a lot of curly-haired people to wear their hair just long with some layers," says Craig Clark, associate color director at hair salon Linnaean (via Get The Gloss).

An angled bob haircut, which makes the hair look shorter in the back and longer towards the front, can also create the impression of fuller body. Blunt ends, asymmetrical cuts, and wavy, long layers also do a killer job of highlighting your voluminous roots. Face-framing curtain bangs, which get along well with almost any hairstyle from pixie to shag, can also add volume to your hair while softening and highlighting certain facial features. Any type of updo or half-up hairstyle can also make your hair look thicker instantly.