Perm Gray Hair

Woman with gray hair
Photo: Stockfour/Shutterstock
Q: Can gray hair be permed safely? Are there any special products or procedures? I have been enjoying the healthy nature of my non-colored hair but am interested in adding a little body if I can do that without taking away the sheen.
A: The problems encountered when attempting to perm gray hair are typically related to the hair being more resistant.
This means that the cuticle layer is often tighter on gray hair and that the hair doesn't absorb moisture (or release it) as readily as pigmented hair. This also means that the perm chemicals may take longer to penetrate the hair shaft and break the disulfide bonds in order to rearrange the wave pattern of the hair.
You should plan to allow extra time for your stylist to perform both a strand test and test curl on your hair to make sure that she/he can determine the precise processing time for the best perm results. These tests are important, particularly if there's a possibility for problems with a hair service. It is always better to be safe now than sorry later.
So, in short, the answer is "yes", you can safely perm gray hair. Simply go to a stylist you trust and discuss fully what you want from your perm service. Your stylist can help you to achieve the look you desire.
See also:
Perms Q&A
Perms and perming hair
Changes in our hair when we age