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How Long Does A Men’s Perm Take To Do? (Explained)

February 12, 2022
How Long Does A Men’s Perm Take To Do? (Explained)

Most men know that a perm won’t be as quick as a fade. But not many people really know exactly how long the process takes. So, how long does a men’s perm take to do? 

On average, a men’s perm will take between 2.5 and 3.5 hours, depending on factors such as hair length, curling rod size, and how experienced the stylist is. 

Although that’s the short answer, there’s more to it. 

After going through how long you can expect each of the steps in the perming process to take, I’ll tell you which factors determine how long your specific perm might take. 

man with curly hair
Image From Deposit Photos

The Perming Process Split By Time (Men’s Guide)

These are the average times the individual steps will take, together with a description of what they actually are. 

1. Initial Assessment (45 minutes)

The initial assessment will vary according to your specific circumstances. 

If you’re a seasoned perming veteran and you know exactly what you want, or if your stylist has permed your hair dozens of times before, the assessment may be a lot quicker than this. 

But if, for example, it’s your first time or you simply want to try out a different look, the initial assessment may take longer. 

Here are the main things that’ll take place during this step: 

  • Hair assessment: The condition of the hair and its suitability for perming will be looked at. It’ll probably include a “strand test” where the perming solution is applied to a strand of hair to see how it reacts. 
  • Curler selection: If you already know what you want, this won’t take much time. 
  • Selection of perm solution: There are different types depending on the color and condition of the hair. 

Most barbers don’t do perms. One of the key differences men will usually notice during their first visit to a stylist is the length of time the initial assessment and discussion will take. 

2. Hair Wash (10 minutes)

The hair is almost always washed before it’s permed, usually with a shampoo to get rid of excess oil, grime, and chemicals. 

While it’s the quickest step in the process, it will vary according to how long your hair is. As you’d expect, longer hair takes longer to wash, clean, and towel-dry. 

3. Curler Placement (1 to 2 hours)

This is, by far, the longest step in the process. Men who previously went to a barber for a short back and sides or a fade may not be used to sitting in a stylist’s chair for this length of time. 

The hair is wound around the curling rods selected in step 1. The specific technique and direction of the placement will depend on the type of perm. 

The perming solution is either applied during the curler placement or after the curlers are placed. 

Once the curlers are in and the perming solution has been applied, it’s usually left alone for around 15 to 20 minutes. 

As you’d expect, the length of time it takes will heavily depend on your length of hair. 

But overall, expect for the process to take between 1 and 2 hours. It’s a long time. 

If you aren’t used to sitting still for such a long period or you simply don’t think it’s worth the effort, perming may not be for you. 

There are plenty of things men should know before getting a perm. How long it really takes is just one of them. 

4. Neutralizing Solution (20 minutes)

Once the curling rods have been in for a sufficient length of time (as explained above), it’s time for neutralization. 

The neutralizing solution is applied after the stylist is happy that the curls have formed well enough. 

The technique can vary, but usually, some of the solution is applied with the curlers still in and the rest is applied once the curlers are out. 

Once it’s been applied, it sits for around 10 minutes. 

Finally, the hair is washed to get rid of any excess solution. 

4 Factors That Determine The Length Of Time A Men’s Perm Takes

The process laid out above is the average time you can expect each of the steps to take. 

But there are certain factors that determine whether your perm will be on the longer or shorter end of the spectrum. 

Hair Length

This one is arguably the most important factor. As you’d expect, the longer your hair, the longer it’ll take to perm. 

Long hair will require the placement of more curling rods to get the job done. 

Men with short hair can get a perm. But on average, men’s hair (or any hair for that matter) will need to be at least 2 inches long to perm. If it’s shorter than that, it’s tough to wind it around even the smallest of curling rods. 

Even men with “short” hair of this length should still expect to spend at least 2.5 hours in a salon. 

At the end of the day, the perming solution and neutralizing solution will take the same amount of time to kick in no matter how short the hair is. 

But the amount of time it takes to place the curling rods will definitely be quicker if you’ve got shorter hair. 

Curler Size

The size of the curling rods applied will determine how tight the curls that are formed are. 

In general, the larger the curling rods, the more time they’ll take to apply. Winding the hair around the curling rods is a manual, time-intensive process. 

The larger the rods, the more time the winding will take.

While the difference isn’t huge, it does add up – especially on men with longer hair. 

Need For Initial Assessment 

As I mentioned earlier, if this isn’t your first perm and you know exactly the type of perm you want and the look you’re trying to achieve, the initial assessment will be a little quicker. 

It does help if your stylist knows exactly what you want before you even sit in that chair. 

The curling rod selection and technique selection will be a whole lot quicker. 

However, the initial assessment of the condition of your hair, as well as the “strand test”, should take the same amount of time no matter what. 

Experience Of Stylist

Not all stylists have the same amount of skill or experience, especially when it comes to highly technical processes like perming. 

The more experienced the stylist is, the quicker you can usually expect the perming process to be. 

It almost becomes second nature to them. They have a better feel for what you want and so the initial assessment probably won’t take as long as it would for a less experienced stylist. 

They’ll also usually be quicker with the curling rod placement because they’ve done it so many times before. 

While the difference in time probably won’t be huge, you should expect a quicker perm from a more experienced stylist. 


Queries around men’s perms are becoming more and more frequent. There isn’t a whole lot of information about them out there right now. 

Hopefully, this article has given you a much better idea of how long you should expect your specific perm to take.