Can I perm and colour my hair at the same time?

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I'm looking to cut and perm my straight hair into a wavy / loose curled bob. But seeing as my hair is a mousey brown colour, I was wondering whether it's possible to colour my hair at the same time?

I realise that bleaching my hair lighter would probably destroy my hair. But would a dark brown permanent colour ruin it in the same way, or should I just use a non-permanent colour (if possible)?

Thank you,

Lily, UK

Hi Lily,

Perming and colouring at the same time can be done if you’re in a hurry and only on 100% perfectly good conditioned, thick (ish) hair.

Personally, I would not advise you to have both done at the same time. The reason is that most women's hair is not in tip-top condition, or if the hair is more than 5cm long, it may interfere with your hair structure, as the cuticles can only take so much at any one time.

Depending on the thickness of your hair, perm first and then a couple of weeks later apply the colour. There are several reasons for this and it is difficult to give you a simple answer to your question. Firstly I have no information on how thick your hair is, and secondly how long of a bob you want? For your own safety, I suggest the colour would be better applied after your perm is a success and you are happy with the strength of your curls.

Reason being, if the perm is too soft and needs redoing, or your hair structure is fine or thin, it can be possible that the perm is too tight and so you would need to have this corrected. The strain on your hair cuticles would be too much and the colour would wash out quickly because your damaged molecules would not hold the new colour.

Here comes the contradiction!

The good news is, if your new bob cut is Jaw length or just below your jaws and your hair is medium thick to thick and in good condition, then you could have your colour done first and then after one week have the perm.

The condition of your hair cuticles is so important; an experienced technical stylist can advise you onsite and can diagnose exactly what would be right for your hair. The secret lies in the stylist you choose to do the work. Pay the extra money and find a top salon that specialises in modern colours and perms. It is cheaper in the long run to have your hair coloured and permed, as well as cut in the very best salon with experts who are experienced to advise you. Do it on the cheap and it can take months of tears and bad hair days if your colour and/or perm fails to materialise the way you want. One suggestion is to take as many colour pictures from magazines with you to your appointment so you can clearly communicate with the stylist/colourist what you have in your mind! This should leave the guessing out of the consultation.

A permanent colour is best to use, as semi-permanents are hard to control. You are absolutely right, lifting your hair colour would mean some sort of lightening treatment - bleach or a high-lift – and I would definitely not recommend any lifting with a perm. However, if you decide not to go for a perm and use rollers instead or curling tongs (Cloud Nine have some amazing curling products) to achieve soft curls, than yes, you can lift and lighten your colour.

Lily I wish you luck in finding the right professional stylist/colourist, and I soon hope you have your lovely new winter curly brown hair and fulfil your dream!

Pierre Alexandre of Pierre Alexandre, Manchester

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