Straighten Perm with Flat Iron

Flat iron permed hair
Photo: Tinatin/Shutterstock
Q: I got a perm about a month ago. I like it ok, but sometimes I want to straighten it. Will using a flat iron on my hair affect the perm at all?
A: In short, no. Perms cause change in the hair's wave-pattern by breaking the stronger chemical (disulfide) bonds in the hair and reforming them in the new wave-pattern. Flat irons and other heat styling appliances merely create a physical change in the wave-pattern by breaking and reforming the weaker physical (hydrogen and salt) bonds of the hair.
You should be able to shampoo and condition your hair, then blow-dry it straight and finish it off with a flat iron to smooth it out with no worry of ruining your perm. Your perm's curls will bounce back after your next shampoo (or if your hair gets wet).
The only concern you should have in flat-ironing permed hair is that chemical processes like perms can leave the hair more porous and prone to being dry. It also means that your hair will be prone to damage from heat styling. Because of this, make certain that you use a moisture-rich shampoo and conditioner, and that you also use protective styling products designed for flat-iron straightening of the hair.
There are new products on the market that are specifically designed to protect the hair from damage caused by flat-irons, as well as a number of older products that will give your hair added shine in the finished style (for example, shine enhancers, and spray lacquers).
It's always important before using heat-styling appliances like flat irons and curling irons to make sure that your hair is completely dry. This is doubly important when working with chemically processed hair. The heated appliance applied to wet hair can literally boil the hair causing it to swell and can destroy the hair's structure.
However, if you use proper precautions and keep your hair moisturized and properly conditioned, you should be able to create beautiful straight hairstyles as well as enjoying the curls which were the reason you wanted the perm in the first place.
See also:
How perms work
Flat iron styling