Which hair perm kit is best?

A hair perm, short for permanent, is one of the easiest ways to change the look of your hair and keep it changed. While the peak time of popularity for perms has passed, they’re still applied regularly all over the world to add body and curls to naturally straight hair. You don’t even need to spend several hours in a salon to get one anymore thanks to hair perm kits. With its ability to not be super damaging, one of the best kits you can use at home is the Zotos Design Freedom Regular Perm.

What to know before you buy a hair perm kit

What’s in the hair perm kit

When you purchase a hair perm kit, all you’re getting are the chemicals necessary to lock your hair into its new form. This includes the waving chemicals that add body and cause your hair to curl as well as a neutralizing solution that’s applied to stop your hair from being processed to avoid over processing.

What’s not in the hair perm kit

What isn’t included in any hair perm kit are the various tools you need to properly apply the included solutions. 

The most important tools you need are perm rods to roll your treated hair into the curl size that you want. Larger rods lead to larger curls. You’ll also need a comb and some clips to separate your hair and keep it separated while you use your perm rods.

Additionally, you’ll need a timer and some towels. The timer you’ll need to make sure you don’t over-process your hair which can lead to damage and a bad look. The towels, of which you’ll need many, are for cleaning up spills and drying your rinsed-out hair.

What to look for in a quality hair perm kit

Acid vs. alkaline

Hair perm waving solutions come in either acid or alkaline forms.

  • Acid: Acid perm solutions have low pH balances, typically between 4.5 and 7. They aren’t as strong as alkaline solutions, making acid solutions best for sensitive hairs like those that are color-treated or dry.
  • Alkaline: Alkaline perm solutions have high pH balances, typically between 9 and 9.6. These perm solutions have a stronger effect than acid solutions, making them best for difficult to process hair types or hairs that are particularly healthy.


Some hair perm kits include extras that, while not strictly necessary, can assist you in various ways. The two most common included extras are end wraps and drip guards. End wraps help to further protect your hair from damage while drip guards are a loop of paper that goes around your neck to protect from spills and drips.

How much you can expect to spend on a hair perm kit

Hair perm kits cost a fraction of their equivalent salon-applied costs. The most expensive hair perm kit rarely exceeds $20 with the inexpensive kits usually bottoming out around $8.

Hair perm kit FAQ

Do I need to perform a perm strand test before applying a perm?

A. If you’ve never applied a perm before, then it’s highly recommended to perform a strand test. A strand test is simple to perform. All it involves is applying your chemicals to a single strand of your hair and waiting to see how long it takes for the perm to be properly applied. Once you know this timing, you can be assured you won’t accidentally overprocess your hair during the full application, which can be disastrous. If you’ve permed your hair before then it probably isn’t necessary to perform another strand test.

When can I wash my hair once I’ve permed it?

A. A perm needs time to rest once it has been applied to ensure it’ll stay applied. Most perms are locked in around the 48-hour mark. To be extra safe, you could wait for three days, though this isn’t truly necessary.

What’s the best hair perm kit to buy?

Top hair perm kit

Zotos Design Freedom Regular Perm

Zotos Design Freedom Regular Perm

What you need to know: This top choice hair perm kit is able to give you salon-quality looks without a lot of damage. 

What you’ll love: This hair perm kit isn’t as damaging as other perm kits and can be used easily on most hair types. The healthy and long-lasting curls and waves produced by this kit look natural.

What you should consider: Thicker hair types may struggle with this hair perm hit to create the curls they’re looking for, and this kit may cause some frizzy ends.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top hair perm kit for the money

Ogilvie Salon Styles The Original Home Perm for Normal Hair with Extra Body

Ogilvie Salon Styles The Original Home Perm for Normal Hair with Extra Body

What you need to know: This hair perm kit comes from a well-known brand and is one of the bestselling perm kits available.

What you’ll love: This hair perm kit’s final result is one of the most durable on the market and it can add plenty of body or curls to your hair without seeming unnatural. The package includes two special conditioners for use before and after perming.

What you should consider: This hair perm kit is strong enough to cause some damage to sensitive hair types or hair that’s been color-treated.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Zotos Acclaim Extra Body Acid Perm

Zotos Acclaim Extra Body Acid Perm

What you need to know: This sensitive hair perm kit is an excellent choice for anyone with easily damaged hair who still wants a perm.

What you’ll love: This hair perm kit uses ammonia, an acid, rather than alkaline to produce its gentler effect without sacrificing any amount of body. This product may be used on non-sensitive hair types and still produce the desired effect.

What you should consider: The final results aren’t as high-end as those of stronger hair perm kits. Some frizziness may also be introduced after perming is complete.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Jordan Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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