Perm Braided Hair

Hair braiding
Photo: Ana del Castillo/Shutterstock
Q: I've searched and searched and no answers to be found, so I came here. Can you perm braided hair? For example, I've braided my hair in 5 rows and I would like to keep the look longer. Can I put a perming solution over my braids?
A: Theoretically, you could perm braided hair, locking in the tight wave pattern created by the braiding.
The concern about attempting such a process is that since the perming formulas swell the hair shaft and raise the cuticle layer, the hair is much more susceptible to damage from friction against its fellow hairs. There is also the fact that results may be more "subdued" than are achieved from regular braiding sets.
Salons perform what is known as "specialty" perms all the time, using different and sometimes apparently exotic tools to wrap the hair around. I would recommend visiting your local salon and asking their perm technician about having this service done on your hair while braided. This will allow him/her to evaluate your hair and determine the likely problems to be encountered in performing such a service.
It may also allow him/her to make suggestions for other possible technique that could give you the same results. Regardless of what you decide upon, I would make sure to plan very carefully before committing to such a process or trying on your own.
If you do decide to try it on your own, enlist the aid of a friend to help you watch the back portions carefully and use a very gentle perm formula, such as an Acid-balanced perm. I do not advise trying this on color-treated hair, especially not on bleached hair.
See also:
Perm hair
How to braid hair
Can I put the perm solution on French braids instead of curlers?
Is it ok to get my hair braided a few days after a perm?