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Do Barbers Actually Do Perms Or Not? [Solved]

August 13, 2023
Do Barbers Actually Do Perms Or Not? [Solved]

Perms have officially stood the test of time, but finding the perfect curling service can be frustrating. But the question is, do barbers do perms? 

Most barbers do not do perms because barber training usually has less emphasis on chemical treatments. There is also generally less demand for perms from barbers compared with salons, making it even less likely that they will provide them. 

However, this is not a blanket rule and there are some barber shops that will offer chemical services such as perming. 

In this article we will discuss why most barbers don’t do perms, what to do if you are considering getting a perm from a barber, and some of the alternative places you can get a perm. 

Perms are coming back in fashion particularly for men, so if a perm is something you’ve been considering, this is the article for you. 

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3 Reasons Why Most Barbers Don’t Do Perms 

1. Barbers Often Don’t Have The Training

The training of barbers varies greatly from state to state, and country to country. However, it is generally true that there are practical differences between the training of barbers and stylists. 

As a general rule, stylists’ training places more of an emphasis on chemical services, such as coloring and perms. 

This is because, in their line of work, stylists are more likely to come across clients seeking a perm or coloring work, as the majority of these services are performed on women. 

Barber training, although it often touches on chemical services and the theory behind this, usually includes less of a practical emphasis on perms and color.

Barbers will generally be more familiar with cutting and shaving, as this forms the bulk of their work, especially during their training. 

They will be adept in performing fades, lineups and clipper work, but not as used to dealing with longer hair and can take longer to get familiar with using shears. 

On the other hand, stylists tend to be more comfortable with using shears, but are not as familiar with clipper work.

Of course, this is not to say that all barbers do not know how to do perms – in fact, in many areas they are licensed to carry out perm work, as most barber training will touch upon chemical services as explained above. 

It is simply less likely that you will find a barber who performs perm work compared with a stylist, as it isn’t seen as a core service that barbers provide.

2. It Is A Higher-Risk Treatment

Any hairdressing work that involves chemicals is automatically at higher risk of complications compared to a normal cut or shave.

This can mean that many barber shops will decide not to offer perming as a service, as the risk of complications may outweigh the financial benefit of them providing this service, especially as they don’t tend to do perms as frequently as stylists.

The common technique for perming hair involves applying a chemical called ammonium thioglycate to break down the hair’s natural chemical bonds.

This is a strong chemical which makes the hair easy to style and shape as desired, but it also essentially weakens hair. 

The second step of the process often involves adding further chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide to rebond the hair once styled. 

With all of these chemicals involved, the process of perming needs to be carefully timed to avoid hair being damaged.

If applied for too long, the results can be disastrous – an outcome neither the client nor barber would want.

Therefore, many barbers who are not accustomed to performing regular perms may decide that it’s not worth the risk.

3. It Takes A Long Time 

If you have ever experienced having a perm before, then you will know that the process can be long. 

The average perm takes somewhere between 2-3 hours. But, the process can take up to 5 hours depending on the length of hair and how much hair is being permed.

If you think about a simple men’s haircut, on the other hand, this can take as little as 15 minutes, with most men’s haircuts taking around the 30-minute mark. 

It follows then, that a  barbershop could potentially book in 6 clients in the space it takes to do 1 perm.

The average men’s haircut in the US costs approximately $30, whereas a perm costs on average somewhere in the region of $80. 

As a result, many barbers will take the view that they can simply make more money offering haircuts as opposed to perms, as it is more cost-effective for the time taken to do the job.

Add to this the risk of complications from a perm gone wrong, and many barbers will find that offering perming is just not worth it for their business. 

Should All Barbers Offer Perms?

Barbers shouldn’t feel they have to offer a perming service if it doesn’t suit their business model, or if they feel they do not have the right training for it. 

As explained above, there are valid reasons why most barbers will choose not to offer perming services. Making perming a mandatory service for barbers would not be beneficial for these barbers or their clients. 

In certain cases, it could lead to a higher rate of complications from incorrect perm technique, or cause the business to suffer financially. 

However, despite the negatives that can come with offering a perming service as a barber, there are situations where it could be beneficial for barbers to consider offering this additional service. 

Male clients make up the majority of the clients that barbers will have and curls have definitely made a comeback in men’s hairstyles. 

One particularly popular hairstyle amongst younger men is the curly hair fade. 

The demand for men’s perms is going up due to the rise of hairstyles such as the curly hair fade, and so depending on the local demographic, some barbershops could benefit from taking advantage of this trend and offering a perming service.

The price per perm charged could be raised if the demand is particularly high, making the service more cost-effective for barbers to provide.

Obviously, having barbers who have adequate training to perform perms is important, and some barbers may have to train their employees in this technique, which will also cost money. 

If, however, barbers already have trained staff to offer this service, the profit margin achieved could be worth their while. 

7 Things To Know Before You Get A Perm From A Barber 

You may already have a barber in mind that you know does perming, which is great.

But before you take the plunge and book your appointment, there are a few things to keep in mind before getting a perm from a barber.

Doing your due diligence may seem a hassle now, but it will save you a potential headache later down the line.

1. Check Your Barber’s Experience 

The best way to get the perm that you love is to go to a barber who knows what they are doing and enjoys what they are doing. 

So, before you commit to your chosen barber, it is important to check their personal experience with perming. 

As we’ve discussed in this article, experience with perming can vary greatly within the barber community, and many barbers will not offer this service.  Therefore it is always worth asking how confident your barber is with the perming process and if it is a skill they regularly use. 

Often, there is a particular barber within the establishment who has more experience with perming compared with their colleagues. 

If you can, try to get booked in with this person.  Through their experience, they will have gathered some knowledge about the interaction between the perming chemicals and different hair types. This knowledge only really comes with practice and so is very valuable.  

This advice doesn’t just apply to barbers – even if you are choosing to have your perm done with a stylist it is still recommended to check their experience beforehand. 

Although stylists will generally have good practical knowledge of perms, experience between stylists does still vary.

2. Consult Before Committing 

Once you have found a trusted barber, ask if you can have a consultation with them before you take the plunge and commit to a perm.

A good barber who has experience in perming will be able to assess your hair type and whether it is suitable for the type of perm that you want.

Show them photos of your hair goals, so that they can discuss with you whether or not this result is possible to achieve with a perm. 

It is also important to be honest with your barber about your hair’s history, including previous perms, dyeing, and bleaching. 

This is so that they can make a fully informed assessment of the condition of your hair and whether perming will actually be able to achieve your desired result.

The condition of your hair before perming will dictate the success of the end result, so it is in your interest to be as honest as you can.

Remember – the more information you give to your barber, the better placed they are to give you your desired perm result. 

3. Check Reviews 

The best way to get information about a barber before your first visit is to look online.

There is so much information that is easily accessible through the internet nowadays that it seems silly not to take advantage of it. 

Reviews from previous clients will give you a good idea of client satisfaction and quality of service. Look for trusted websites with higher numbers of reviews to get a more reliable gauge. 

Some barbershops will have social media accounts with before and after pictures of their work. This can be a great way to get a feel of whether you might like what they do. 

Word-of-mouth recommendations from people you trust can also be a great way to get some quality suggestions. 

The only caveat is that online reviews tend to show the best and worst of feedback – people in the middle don’t tend to submit reviews. 

As long as you keep this in mind, however, the internet is still a great decision aid tool when choosing your barber. 

4. Check The Price 

Perhaps an obvious one – but make sure to check the going rate at your barber of choice before you commit to getting a perm there.

As well as checking the standard price menu online, it is worth asking what it is going to cost for your particular requested style. 

Barbershops can increase the price if you have longer hair for instance, and you don’t want a nasty surprise at the end of your appointment once all of the work has been done. 

If the price quoted is particularly high and you are unsure about your barber’s personal experience with perming, you may want to consider going to an established salon, if the price is similar.

This is because they are more likely to have regular experience with perming.

However, if you find a good barber you trust who you think is best placed to give you what you want, you may feel it is worth paying the higher price. 

5. Prepare To Wait 

Perms take time, as anyone who has ever had a perm will know. 

The time taken varies depending on the amount and length of hair you want permed, and any other additional cutting or shaving services you are having done at the same time. 

But at the end of the day, you have to be prepared to spare on average 2-3 hours if you want your hair permed.

This is because perming is a process, and the chemicals need to be applied in separate stages so that the hair can be properly shaped. 

Your barber will usually warn you how long they expect it to take for your specific hairstyle. 

The best thing you can do is clear out your afternoon, bring along a book and sit back and enjoy the process. 

6. Your Hair Should Be In Good Condition

If your hair is too damaged, most barbers and stylists wouldn’t recommend getting a perm.

Perming involves some pretty strong chemicals that weaken your hair – this is the essence of how perming works. By weakening your hair and breaking down its bonds, it is easier to reshape it into a style that you want.

But, if your hair is already damaged, to begin with, the perming process can cause further damage that is harder to recover from.

Also, the end result depends on the quality of your hair to begin with, and perming damaged hair does not give as good a result as perming normal healthy hair.

So, if your hair is extremely dry, or has been colored or bleached recently, it is best to hold off on the perm for now and wait until your hair is in good condition again.

It’s best to discuss it with your barber first if you’re unsure. 

7. Perms Require Aftercare 

Unfortunately, the work doesn’t stop once you’ve got your perm.

Many people don’t realize that perms require care in order to keep looking good and to last their full lifetime. 

Curly hair can dry out more easily, therefore it is recommended to always condition your curly hair post-perm. Texture sprays can help to keep curls looking defined. 

Luckily, there are many shampoos and conditioners marketed specifically for curly permed hair, which will help to keep your curls intact for longer.

3 Places You Can Get A Perm If You Can’t Get It At Your Barbers

So far, we’ve discussed some reasons why many barbers do not offer a perming service. 

If you manage to find a barber establishment that does offer perming, we’ve also discussed what you need to know before taking the plunge and booking an appointment.

But where can you get a perm if your local barbershop doesn’t offer perming?

Let’s go through some of the alternative options out there.

1. Salon Stylist 

Hairdressing salons are the obvious alternative option and are usually the most common place that people go to get a perm. 

As we’ve mentioned above, salon stylists will usually be adept at handling chemicals such as hair dyes and those used in perming.

It is important to note that as with barbers, stylists will also have varying experience with perms.

Don’t be afraid to ask your stylist what their personal experience is with perming, as well as checking reviews from previous clients online and on social media. 

It is worth booking a pre-treatment consultation with your chosen stylist to go through the pros and cons of a perm for your particular hair type, and whether a perm is right for you. 

2. Salon/Barber Hybrid

There are certain establishments that market themselves as a kind of Salon-meets-Barber hybrid, particularly geared towards male clients.

These establishments will offer a wider range of services including perms, coloring and shears work, as well as offering the traditional barber services including fades, cuts, and clipper work. 

The benefit of this is that you can get the best of both worlds and that the stylists in these establishments tend to be experienced with both chemical services and traditional cutting and shaving. 

A typical example of a hairstyle combining both techniques is the curly hair fade. 

The main downside of these establishments is that they are harder to come by and usually are found in major cities. 

This means that they tend to be more expensive than your standard barbershop, so expect to pay a little more. 

3. Mobile Hairdresser

Mobile hairdressers are stylists that will come to your home to style your hair. 

Often, these hairdressers are working as self-employed individuals, without the responsibility for all of the overheads that running a salon entails. 

The benefit of this is that they tend to be more affordable than a trip to the salon for the equivalent service.

Another benefit is that mobile hairdressers usually have worked and trained as salon stylists in the past, and may have worked in several different salon or barbershops and in some cases can have a broader range of skills than the average salon stylist.

This will obviously vary, so it is important to check with your stylist their experience and whether they can meet your hair needs.

However, as they are stylist trained, they will usually have had good experience with chemical services such as perming, and can be a suitable alternative to a barbershop.


If a perm is what you have been dreaming of, hopefully, you now have the information needed to take the plunge and book your appointment, whether that be with a barber or a salon stylist.

Many people love having a perm, and once you find the perfect establishment to have yours done, you are sure to love it too.