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Best hair perm kit

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 perms' peak popularity has passed, they’re still applied regularly all over the world to add body and curls to naturally straight hair. And home perm kits mean you don’t even need to spend several hours in a salon to get one.

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 waving chemicals that add body and cause your hair to curl, as well as a neutralizing solution that stops your hair from being processed to avoid overprocessing. Some kits also include conditioners that moisturize and protect hair during and after perming. 

What’s not in the hair perm kit

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

  • Perm rods: These are the most important tools, rolling your treated hair into the curl size that you want. Larger rods lead to larger curls.
  • End wraps: Also called end papers, these protect hair ends from damage during processing. Not all hair perm kits include end wraps, so you may need to buy them separately.
  • A comb and some clips: These separate your hair and keep it separated while you use your perm rods.
  • A timer: This makes sure you don’t overprocess your hair, which can lead to damage and a bad look.
  • Towels: You’ll need many to clean up spills and dry your rinsed-out hair.

What to look for in a quality hair perm kit

Acid vs. alkaline

Hair perm waving solutions are either acid or alkaline.

  • 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 hair, such as color-treated or dry hair.
  • Alkaline: Alkaline perm solutions have high pH balances, typically between 9 and 9.6. These have a stronger effect than acid solutions, making them best for difficult-to- hair types or hair that's particularly healthy.


Many perms are exothermic, which means their solutions contain activators that automatically begin to heat once applied. Self-heating is effective at opening the layers of the cuticles to let the perm chemicals do their job. Exothermic perms come in both acid and alkaline versions. They work well for anyone, but are especially suitable for those with long or hard-to-curl hair. 


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 protect your hair from damage while drip guards are loops of paper that go around your neck to protect from spills and drips.

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

They cost a fraction of salon-applied perms. The most expensive hair perm kit rarely exceeds $20, with 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, it’s highly recommended to perform a strand test. This is simple. All it involves is applying your chemicals to one strand of your hair and waiting to see how long it takes for the perm to be properly applied. Knowing this, 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, 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

What you need to know: This kit gives you salon-quality looks without a lot of damage. 

What you’ll love: Made by a top brand in perms, it can be used easily on most hair type. The healthy, long-lasting curls and waves it produces look natural.

What you should consider: Those with thicker hair types may struggle with this kit to create the curls they're looking for, and it may cause some frizzy ends.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top hair perm kit for the money

Zotos Quantum Extra Body Acid Perm 

What you need to know: This kit is popular, gentle and perfect for anyone with hair that isn't too hard to curl and who wants lots of body. It can be used on color-treated hair. 

What you’ll love: Its acid formula is less likely to cause damage than most alkaline options. The solution is made with argan oil that moisturizes while it protects hair. A conditioner is also included. 

What you should consider: This perm isn't ideal for creating tight curls or for perming locks that don't curl easily. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Ogilvie Salon Styles Precisely Right Professional Conditioning Perm for Color Treated, Thin or Delicate Hair 

What you need to know: Whether your hair is color treated or prone to damage, this is a great perm kit to buy.

What you’ll love: Made by a brand that's been trusted for generations, it's formulated for hair that has been color treated, or tresses that are fine or fragile. It's gentler than many competitors, made with conditioners that moisturize and protect. It's also heat-activated for excellent results. 

What you should consider: This perm may not work well on curl-resistant hair. 

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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