Can You Perm Relaxed Hair? (2 Different Case Scenarios)

can you perm relaxed hair

According to a study by NCBI, more than 80% of Afro-American women get their hair chemically straightened at any part of their lives. They are more likely to use relaxers than their counterparts to attain long and straight hair.

However, it is not only Afro-Americans who use hair relaxers but anyone who has slightly textured or curly manes. So, if you employed chemical hair relaxer back and now want to get body and curls again, can you perm relaxed hair?

There are two cases where one may let you perm your relaxed hair and the other will not. It depends on which chemical relaxer you have employed to straighten your manes. 

Below, I have explained everything you need to know about perming your relaxed hair. So, let’s take a closer look at which type of chemically straightened hair you can perm. 

When You Can’t Perm Your Relaxed Hair

According to an NCBI study, there are three main types of hair relaxers: no-lye relaxer, lye relaxer, and thio hair relaxer. All of these have different chemicals acting as hair relaxers.

If you have relaxed your hair with a Lye or even no-lye hair relaxer, you won’t be able to perm your manes afterward.

Why is so? Let’s get into the basic chemistry of hair and its chemical relaxers.

Your hair strands are made of proteins, and different types of bonds hold these protein fibers together. The one which is of our concern is the disulfide bond.

Disulfide bonds provide protein fibers of their different conformations. In other words, your curly or straight hair texture is because of these disulfide bonds.

Chemical hair relaxers break these disulfide bonds. A neutralizer solution rebuilds them after we have reconfigured hair strands into straight or curly conformation using perm rods or other tools.

Lye (sodium hydroxide) or no-lye (calcium hydroxide) hair relaxers convert the disulfide bonds into lanthionine bonds. It means disulfide bonds are permanently broken, and you can rebuild them using a neutralizer solution.

While you get straight floating hair using lye hair relaxers, you won’t be able to perm or curl it again until your new hair strands grow out. Hair relaxed with sodium or calcium hydroxide has broken disulfide bonds that can’t be restored.

So, you won’t be able to reconfigure your manes into curly textures with a perm because there are no disulfide bonds.

Therefore, it is best to wait and allow your new hair to grow before you can try to curl it using a perm kit.

When You Might Perm Your Relaxed Hair

Lye or no-lye is not the only hair relaxer available. There is another type called thio relaxers. These are chemically identical to what you employ as a perm solution.

Thio hair relaxers, especially acid salts, are less potent than lye relaxers. Therefore, your straight manes may not last as long after straightening them with a thio relaxer rather than a lye or no-lye hair relaxer. 

However, they don’t break the disulfide bonds permanently, which means you can reconfigure them into a curly texture from the previously straight conformation. 

So, you may perm your relaxed hair if it is previously treated with a thio relaxer rather than lye or no-lye hair relaxer. 

But, you shouldn’t perm your relaxed hair before it recovers from the previous chemical processing. Give it four to six weeks and employ a bond rebuilding hair conditioner. 

If your relaxed hair is weak and damaged, you can employ an acid perm (glyceryl thioglycolate), which is comparatively gentle and gets your manes loose curls or waves. Plus, it adds volume.

However, if you love those tight ringlets, you will need to employ an alkaline perm (ammonium thioglycolate), which is harsher and more suitable for thick and coarse hair.

How To Strip Relaxer From Hair?

Whether you have Afro-American, Caucasian, or Asian hair that is curly or textured, you might have thought of trying sleek straight hairstyles by getting your manes straightened chemically.

However, we don’t always love our new hair look. Therefore, the feeling of turning your relaxed hair curly again with a perm or whatever technique is justifiable.

As mentioned above, you can only perm relaxed hair if it is straightened with a thio relaxer. In case you have employed a lye hair relaxer, there is nothing you can do to go curly again.

To prevent yourself from going for a big hair chop, you can opt for Flexi rods, foam rollers, perm rods, or braids to wear various hairstyles on your relaxed manes.

Ladies wear Nubian Knots or hair extensions to give relaxed hair a permed or curly look.

Allowing your chemically relaxed hair to dry on its own after the shower can also help you get textured and curly hair until you rewash your manes. However, it might take hours to dry completely, depending on its length and volume.

Wrapping Up

If your hair has been relaxed with lye or no-lye hair relaxers, which is most likely the case, you can’t perm or permanently curl it. You can only use foam rollers, Flexi rods, or perm rods to curl your manes every few days.

However, if you have employed a thio hair relaxer, there is a good chance you can perm your relaxed hair afterward. These thio products are formulated as acid or alkaline perm, but you can also use them to relax your hair.

It is recommended not to process your hair chemically again before you allow it a few weeks to recover and get stronger.