What Is a Spot Perm?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 28 August 2019
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A spot perm is a permanent wave technique in which only a small section of a client's hair is permed. There are a number of reasons to choose a spot perm; some people with uneven hair get them to create a more uniform look, for example, and older clients with thinning hair may use a spot perm to increase volume, covering the hair loss. Any salon which offers perms will offer spot perms, which tend to be less expensive since they are not as time-consuming as perms which are applied to the whole head.

Like other permanents, a spot perm is accomplished by applying chemicals to the section of hair in question to relax it before wrapping it around a roller or permanent rod, depending on the type of curl or wave desired. The hair is left wrapped for a set period of time before a relaxant is applied to set the curl. Depending on the width of the tool used to wrap the hair, the result can be tight curls or a more gentle wave.


The process of performing a permanent is very hard on hair. The chemicals tend to turn hair dry and brittle, and it is very important to moisturize hair well and to use products recommended for permed hair when caring for a perm. Most stylists also advise against coloring and perming within a short time period, since the combination of chemicals can cause hair loss. Since this perm is not applied to the whole head, it could be considered a happy medium of perming, balancing the desire for structured curls and volume with a desire to keep hair healthy and strong.

Any section of hair can be treated with a spot perm. These perms can help even out uneven haircuts, especially layers as they grow out, and they can be used to add volume and texture to hair of any length. This technique can also be used for curl control, in some cases, especially if someone with curly hair has areas of flatter, less springy hair. A spot perm can also be used to make a natural wave more pronounced.

If you are considering a permanent, make sure to talk with a technician before he or she touches your hair. Bring in a photograph which shows the exact look you want, to eliminate any confusion, and ask to see a portfolio of a stylist's work. If a stylist recommends a service like a spot perm to you to create a desired look, ask him or her to be specific about which area will be permed and what the end result will look like.


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