Perm Rods: The Complete Beginner Guide

perm rod hairstyle

Perm rods are one of the oldest methods of achieving well-defined bouncy curls. In the past, they were used by people who had chemical perm(anent) treatments in their hair, hence, the “perm” in their name. However, in today’s world, naturals have embraced them as this hair curling tool does not do any damage to natural hair. In this article, I will be discussing with you everything you need to know about perm rods so keep reading.

What are Perm Rods?

perm rods

Image credit: Amazon

Perm rods, also called hair rollers, are a hair curling tool, made of plastic, that naturals and non-naturals alike use to create well-defined curls. They often come in cylindrical shapes and have small holes in them. Perm rods come in different sizes and colors.

The Different Perm Rods Sizes

different sizes of perm rods

Image credit: @2curlsinapod

Perm rods vary in sizes from small to big. The size of the perm rods you use determines the size or type of curls that you intend to achieve. For instance, if you want loose curls, the bigger perm rods will help you achieve that. On the other hand, if you want tight curls, the smaller ones are suitable for that.

Are Perm Rods the Same as Flexi Rods?

perm rods vs flexi rods

L - R: Perm rods and Flexi rods

No. While they both help in achieving well-defined curls, they also have their differences:

Perm Rods Flexi Rods
1. These are horizontal in design  They are vertical in design.
2. They are rigid in structure which means you can not bend or twist them without breaking them (because of their plastic material). As their name implies, these are flexible in structure (because of their foam material). This means you can bend, twist them without breaking them.
3. These are more suitable for naturals with teeny weeny Afros (TWA)/shorter hair because they come in different sizes for different hair lengths. They only cater to naturals with medium to long hair because of their long size.
4. They are easy to use, especially if you are a newbie at using hair rollers. These require a bit of expertise when it comes to manipulating them.
5. Regardless of the size of the curls, perm rods will help you achieve tighter ones. Flexi rods will give you looser curls.
6. They can be uncomfortable because of their plastic material. These are more comfortable to sleep in because they are made of foam material.

What are the Benefits of Using Perm Rods?

  1. You can use them for any hair type and hair length.
  2. They help to increase and enhance curl definition.
  3. You can use them to create waves and curls.
  4. They are low maintenance.
  5. They are easy to create.
  6. They are budget-friendly.

What Type of Perm Rod is Good for My Natural Hair?

perm rods sizes

Image credit:

1. Teeny Weeny Afro (TWA)/Short Afro

If you have a TWA, the red perm rods (which are the smallest perm rods), are the most suitable for your natural hair. If your natural hair is short but a bit longer than a TWA (2 – 4 inches), the blue and pink perm rods will help you achieve tight curls.

2. Medium Length Hair

If you have medium-length hair (3.5 - 5 inches), the medium-sized gray perm rods will help you achieve spiral curls. If your natural hair is in between medium and long (4 - 7 inches), the big white perm rods will help you achieve wavy curls.

3. Long Hair

If your hair is long (over 4 inches), the purple or orange perm rods will help you achieve bouncy curls.

Perm Rods Hairstyles

1. Perm Rods on Short Hair

Perm Rods on Short Hair
Perm Rods on Short Hair

2. Perm Rods on Long Hair

Perm Rods on Long Hair
Perm Rods on Long Hair

3. Perm Rods on Medium-Length Hair

Perm Rods on Medium-Length Hair

4. Loose Curls Perm Rods

Loose Curls Perm Rods

5. Perm Rods Buns

Perm Rods Buns
Perm Rods Buns

6. Perm Rods Mohawk Style

Perm Rods Mohawk Style
Perm Rods Mohawk Style

Maintenance Tips for Perm Rods Hairstyles

  1. Spray a leave-in conditioner or a curl refreshing spray in your curls to keep them hydrated and in place.
  2. Wear a shower cap before you take a bath. This will help to prevent water from getting in and causing your curls to lose shape.
  3. Before you go to bed at night, put your curls into a pineapple and then wrap a satin or silk scarf around them. This will help to keep your curls in place even as you toss and turn in your sleep.

Frequently Asked Questions About Perm Rods

How Much do Perm Rods Cost? A perm rod set can cost between $7 to $15, depending on the size.

How Many Perm Rods do I Need? This depends on the thickness of your hair and the hairstyle you are going for. For some styles, you may need as little as 15, while other styles may take as many as 36 perm rods.

Can I Sleep with My Perm Rods In? Yes, you can leave your perm rods in overnight. However, the plastic material it is made of can cause you some discomfort.

How to Use Perm Rods on Natural Hair

If you want to DIY a perm rod hairstyle, this video tutorial by Nia Hope is just the right way to get started.

What you need:

  • Curl enhancer
  • Anti-frizz mousse
  • Oil mixture
  • Fine-tooth comb
  • Afro comb
  • Perm rods
  • Satin scarf
  • Satin bonnet

Step-by-step Guide

Step 1: Apply Mousse

(Always start on clean well-moisturized hair as dirty hair can result in frizz, cause itching and give a dull appearance)

woman applying mousse to hair
  • First of all, apply mousse to a small section of hair to set your hair.
woman combing hair with fine-tooth comb
  • Next, work the mousse in with your fine-tooth comb. The fine-tooth comb will also ensure that you do not have any knots in your hair.

Step 2: Use Your Perm Rods

woman using flexi rods on natural hair
woman using flexi rods on natural hair
  • Roll a section of your hair with the perm rod, starting with the ends of your hair, and then clip it in place.
  • Repeat for the other sections.

Step 3: Spray and Dry

woman spraying hair with hair spray
  • Spray your oil mixture wrap your perm rods with a satin scarf and cover with a bonnet.
  • Leave overnight to dry or sit under a hairdryer.
woman taking out perm rods
  • When your hair is dry, take off a bonnet and scarf.
  • Take out your perm rods as gently as you can.

Step 4: Separate the Curls

woman separating hair curls
woman separating hair curls
  • First of all, oil your palms and fingers. This will prevent your curls from frizzing up and also allow your fingers to glide through gently.
  • Next, gently separate a section of curl into smaller curls by:
  1. Twirling
  2. Stretching out
  3. and then leaving the hair to curl right back down
  • Repeat for all sections.

Step 5: Create Volume

woman using hair picker on natural hair

With your Afro comb, gently lift the roots of your hair but do not comb them out. This will help create more volume in your hair.

perm rods hairstyle finished looks

Voila! You have achieved a perfect perm rod hairstyle.

Bottom Line

Perm rod hairstyles are fun to create and give you a whole new look, no doubt. If you failed on the first try, do not give up. With constant practice, you will learn to achieve the perfect perm rod hairstyle.