Best Perm for Gray Hair | Top 3 Picks| Step by Step Process to Perm Gray Hair

If you are thinking of styling and restyling your gray hair, then what better option than giving it a perm? Once again, remember your teenage days with their curls, give your gray hair the curls and volume, and bring back the 80s style. 

Gray hair perming is totally possible, and many hair salons have been providing it for a long time. With time, different treatment processes and formulas are developed, mainly focusing on gray hair. So, gray hair perming in today’s day is absolutely safe. 

But before perming your gray hair, there are certain pieces of information you might want to know.

This article includes it all: from the gray hair texture to the pre-perming treatments and finally to the perming process itself. So if you are thinking of perming your gray hair then, this article serves best for you.

Can you perm natural gray hair?

Yes!!! It’s a big yes. Natural gray hair can absolutely be permed. And, with the right perming treatment and formula, you can get flawless curls. But before going into the details of perming treatment: let us understand the science behind natural gray hair.

Hair ages along with us, and with aging comes changes. As we age, a pigment in our hair known as melanin: decreases in number. Melanin, in young hair, gives color to the hair. And as melanin decrease in number, hair turns gray naturally.

Gray hair gains a new texture and pattern, and it is usually very resistant and tough. Also, due to the tightening of the cuticle layer of gray hair, it does not absorb moisture. So it requires more moisture than before.

The tightening of the gray hair makes the perm solution hard to enter the hair shaft and break the disulfide bond. (Breakage of the disulfide bond is essential to change the texture of the hair) Due to this, regular perming treatment will not work on gray hair.

So, perming a natural gray is possible, but the perming treatment should be strong enough to break the hair bonds, and at the same time, it should not harm the hair further.

Best perm for gray hair?

As the natural gray hair is very resistant and tight, an alkaline or exothermic perm is preferred.  

An alkaline perm is very strong than the other perm types and gives curls that last longer. It contains ammonium thioglycolate as its main ingredient, which gets activated without heating. 

An exothermic perm contains chemicals that generate their own heat and activate the chemical reaction. It allows the chemical to penetrate faster into the hair, without the usage of external heat.

Also, an exothermic perm is self-timed. It means that the perming process automatically stops once the hair sets into curls. It protects the hair from being further damaged and frizzy.

Today in the market, there are many alkaline perm treatments available. But the best would be the one that is strong enough to perm gray hair, but at the same time, it is safe for the hair.

Also, a perm treatment containing a brightening agent is preferred as it will prevent the hair from yellowing.

Top 3 Best Perms for Gray Hair

Listed below are some of the best perms for gray hair:

1. One ‘n Only Shiny Silver perm for gray hair

Key Features:

  • It is an exothermic perm so, it works best for natural gray hair. And as it is self-timing, the perming process stops after the hair forms curls. This property protects the hair from getting frizzy and gives perfect perms. Also, external heating is not required.
  • It contains Argan oil that nourishes the hair and also restores the damaged hair. Argan oil also contains vitamins and nutrients that stimulate hair growth.
  • The perm does not turn the hair yellow as it comes with an anti-yellowing formula.
  • The perm comes with a special pro-vitamin perm conditioner.
  •  It has less odor than other perm treatments.

The Perm kit includes:

  • Wave activator
  • Waving solution
  • Neutralizer
  • Pro-vitamin conditioner

2. Zotos Feels So Lively Exothermic Alkaline Perm

Key Features:

  • It is an exothermic alkaline perm that works well on resistant natural gray hair. It gives long-lasting bouncy curls. As it is an exothermic alkaline perm, it is self-heating and self-timed.
  • It gives well-defined and conditioned curls.

The Perm kit includes:

  • Thermolizer
  • waving solution
  • neutralizer
  • Sleek Steel Pin Tail Comb
  • Plastic cap
  • Step by step instruction guide

3. Zotos Quantum 5 Firm Choices Alkaline Perm 

Key Features:

  • It’s an alkaline perm that works perfectly on resistant gray hair and gives firm and resilient curls. Being an alkaline perm, it is self-heating and self-timed. 
  • With this perm, you can wrap your hair with water, lotion, or both to give texture and movement to the curls.
  • It does not have a strong perm odor.

  The perm kit includes:

  • Waving lotion
  • Perm neutralizer
  • neutralizer

How to Perm Gray Hair

Perming a gray comes with some extra steps. Listed below are some pre-perming things one needs to perform and consider before perming a gray hair.

  1. Talk to your hairstylist regarding the best perm that suits your hair type. Also, choose the perm style that compliments your facial features and style. 
  2. Perform a strand test. It will determine the quality of your hair and will help in choosing the best perm.
  3. Get some moisturizing and intensive hydration treatments before perming. It will make your hair stronger and healthier before perming.

Gray Hair Perming Process: Step by Step

  1. Shampoo your hair with a clarifying shampoo made for gray hair to prevent getting a green or yellow tint from it. These shampoos come with dark purple and violet base color that removes or balances the tint away. Some perm kits come along with their own conditioner.
  2. Gently pat dry the hair with a towel and part the hair into multiple sections.
  3. Now, wrap the endpaper into the sectioned hair, roll it on a perm rod, and clip it. But before using the perm rods, pull the endpaper towards the very end of the hair section.
  4. Use a bandana to prevent dribbling of the perm solution or apply vaseline to reduce irritation.
  5. Mix the activator with the waving solution and apply the solution all over the hair. Complete the process by securing the hair with a hair wrap and leave it for half an hour. ( time duration may differ with different brands)
  6. Rinse the hair with water, apply a neutralizer, and again leave it for half an hour.
  7. Now, remove the neutralizer thoroughly with water and wash the hair with a shampoo made for gray hair.
  8. Finally, leave the hair to dry and style it.

Precautions to be taken for Permed Gray Hair

Precautions should be taken before, during, and after perming the hair. Here are them listed below.

Before perming

  1. Perform a strand test to measure the quality of the hair. It helps to select the best perm treatment based on your hair’s ability to withstand the treatment.
  2. Consult with a professional hairstylist regarding the best perm style that suits you. Select the one that complements your facial structure.
  3. Moisturize and hydrate your hair frequently before perming to make your hair strong and healthy. It also gives healthy-looking curls that stay for a longer time.

During Perming

  1. Wash your hair with a shampoo specially made for gray hair. ( This applies in general for everyone with gray hair: either for perming or not)
  2. Avoid leaving the waving solution and neutralizer for a prolonged time. It might damage the hair.
  3. During perming, avoid getting the solutions into the eyes or skin. If it irritates, then immediately wash it with cold water. To prevent this, use a bandana or apply vaseline on the bare skin.

After Perming

  1. Avoid washing or oiling your hair till two days after the perming treatment. Washing your hair will ruin the newly formed curls and turns the hair frizzy.
  2. Use shampoo specially made for gray hair as others can leave a green or bluish tint on the hair.
  3. Avoid heat styling the hair for at least a week.
  4. Moisturize the hair frequently to prevent frizziness.
  5. Use a wide-toothed comb to prevent messing with the formed curls.
  6. Avoid other hair treatments like highlighting and coloring your hair for the next 2 to 3 months.
  7. Wrap your hair with a satin cloth before sleep to prevent frizziness the next morning.


Perming your hair gives a great style and texture to the hair. It not only gives curls to the hair but also increases the definition of the hair. For natural gray hair, this would be of great benefit. Also, perming your hair from the roots gives an extra lift and volume to hair.

Altogether, perming natural gray hair is possible, and it is a good investment. If you are considering one, then go for it, but before that, consult with a professional hairstylist.