October 19, 2021

What’s the Difference Between Permed Curly Hair Vs. Iron Curls? (Updated 2021)

woman with curly hair with her back to the camera

It’s no secret that nicely curled hair is always in style. Curled hair actually has quite an interesting history, as there is evidence that people have been using tools to create ringlets in their hair for as long as 30,000 years!

For a long time, people used braids and twists to create curled styles or tools they heated directly on a flame. Once electricity became more common and accessible, heated tools like the curling iron were all the rage!

In the 1900s, a permanent solution was invented to give people with straighter hair a long-lasting curl. This treatment was aptly named “a permanent”, AKA the perm. This hair treatment was quite popular through the 1970s and 80s, but it is back in style once again!

Today, you will see all types of curled hair, from natural tight ringlets to loose, beachy waves. The modern perm is also trending to give people a natural-looking curl pattern without needing any heated tools.

If you want to try out a new look on your hair, you may be wondering what the difference is between a heated iron curl style and a perm. Here at Hays Academy of Hair, our cosmetology students* learn to create both of these styles. Here’s exactly how to tell the difference between these two wildly popular curling styles.

What’s a Perm?

A perm is a chemical hair service that is used to set the hair in the desired style. It can be used to create waves, tight ringlets, or anything in between! Most salons offer this service, including our student salon.

woman getting perms

There are multiple varieties of perm wraps to help you achieve the curls you are looking for.
Here are some need-to-know tips to help you decide:

  • A perm is a chemical process that changes the structure of your hair, which means it will either need to grow out or be cut to be removed.
  • Perms take about two to two and a half hours to complete, depending on the length and thickness of your hair.
  • Perms typically need to be touched up every three to six months. This should also include a trim to keep your hair looking healthy!
  • You may need to use products to help enhance your curls and keep them from getting frizzy. Our students love to recommend products based on your hair needs that you can purchase through our student salon.
  • We recommend that you wait two weeks after perming to color your hair. Lightening is also not recommended after perming.

What are Iron Curls?

Iron curls are styled with heated hair tools, such as a curling iron or wand. One of the greatest things about using heated tools for curls is the versatility in the styles you can create.

Curling irons come in all shapes and sizes and how you wrap the hair in the curling iron determines your end result. Smaller curling irons create tighter ringlets, while larger barrel curling irons will create more of a wavy look.

person with long hair getting her hair curled with an iron

Hairstylists may also use various wrapping and clamping tactics to create different-looking curls. For instance, the hair can be tightly wrapped to create tighter curls that go all the way up to the root. Or the bottoms can be loosely curled for a natural look.

Here’s what you need to know about iron curls:

  • It is temporary! Your curls will only stay until you wash your hair or brush them out. You can extend the style by using hairspray or other products.
  • Curls are very easily worn the second day with minor touch-ups!
  • Using too high of heat on the curling iron can damage your hair. You can change the heat setting for minor damage.
  • You can test out different styles easily and re-do your curls if you don’t like them!
  • Curling your hair can take anywhere from 20 min to an hour, depending on the length and thickness of your hair.

It’s Your Turn To Choose!

There are lots of reasons why both of these curling styles are great choices. If you like to switch up your style often and experiment with your looks, then getting iron curls is a great option! However, if you won’t have hair that will naturally dry into curls, getting a perm is worth a shot!

Whether you choose a perm or iron curls, the students* at our cosmetology school student salon can help you achieve the look! You can book at either campus by clicking here to book now. You can also book by calling the Salina campus at 785-833-2280 or the Hays campus at 785-628-6624.

If you want to learn how to do a perm or create the perfect beach waves with a curling iron, learn more about our cosmetology program* today!

*Financial aid is available to those who qualify.

*All services performed by students under the supervision of licensed professionals.