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A digital perm is a perm which uses hot rods with the temperature regulated by a machine, which has a digital display, hence the name. However, the process of the perm is quite analogous. The name “Digital Perm” is also copyrighted by a Japanese company, PAIMORE Co., Ltd.[1] Hair stylists usually call it a “hot perm”, but it is commonly known as a “digital perm”.

A normal perm basically requires only the perm solution. A digital perm requires a (different) solution plus heat. This type of perm was developed in Korea, and now popular in both South Korea and Japan and other countries[2].


Difference between a normal perm and a digital perm

The biggest difference between other perms and a digital perm is the shape and the texture of the wave created by the digital process.

A normal perm, or a “cold perm”, makes the wave most prominent when the hair is wet, and loose when it is dry. The hair tends to look moist and as locks.

A digital perm makes the wave most prominent when the hair is dry, and loose when it is wet. Therefore you can create the dry and curly look of the curl iron or the hot curler. The digital perm requires heat, so it is also called a “hot perm” in comparison to the “cold perm”.

Digital perms thermally recondition the hair, though the chemicals and processing are similar to a straight perm. One's hair often feels softer, smoother, and shinier after a digital perm than before it.

Cost and time of a digital perm

The price depends on the hair salon, but a digital perm is usually little more expensive than a cold perm. Also, some hair salons have systems where they can use the machine one at a time, in which case the price could be a lot higher.

The time it takes to perm the hair also depends on the hair salon and the hair type, but it usually takes longer than a cold perm. In some cases, it takes about the same time, but different salons use different solutions and machines, so the time varies.


A cold perm makes the hair most wavy when it is wet, so to put the styling gel/foam when it is wet and air-drying it makes the wave most prominent. A digital perm makes the hair wavy when it is dry, so you just need to dry it with a blow dryer, and use your hand to make the curl. Styling is very easy, and if you set the curl in the morning, at the end of the day when the wave loosens, you can revive the curl just by curling it with your finger.


A cold perm does not work well with fine hair or coarse hair. A digital perm, on the other hand, can work well with coarse hair, but not well with fine and straight hair. However, most of the problems can be covered by the right selection of the perm solution and the hair stylist’s technique.

A digital perm won't get easily straightened with blow-drying. If you like to enjoy both wavy and straight hair, a cold perm would be better for you. Because a digital perm requires heat, it cannot be used close to your scalp. If you want volume and want to have the perm close to the roots, a digital perm is not for you. Also, a digital perm cannot create tight waves.

Because a digital-perm is so easy to style, it is recommended for people who have a hard time styling at home. It also works well with coarse hair. A digital perm can create loose waves and curls, which is difficult with a cold perm.

See also


  1. ^ Paimore Ltd. website in Japan
  2. ^ Cf. Liu for digital perms in Chinatown in Boston, Massachusetts.

Further reading



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