Perm Rods vs Flexi Rods

By: | Last Updated: September 1, 2021

It’s no secret that curling your hair is a painstaking task. 

There are so many different types of curlers, and it can be difficult to decide which one will give you the best results. The fastest methods usually involve heat, which may damage your hair. 

If you’re looking for a way to curl your hair without using heat, then perm rods or flexi rods may be the solution. But which one is better? 

The answer depends on what kind of hair you have and what type of curls you want. 

Comparing perm rods vs flexi rods, I’d say they’re both reliable, but one may be better than the other depending on what you need. 

Let’s take a closer look at them to see what they have in common, how each differs from the other, and which one is best for your desired hairstyle!

Are Flexi rods and perm rods the same?

Flexi rods and perm rods are both used to achieve a full head of curls. However, the similarity ends there.

You get varied results depending on the tool you use. So, it’s important you determine which look you want first when deciding between the two.

Perm rods

Perm rods are plastic curling tools first associated with chemical perm treatments. Today, however, they’ve become a staple of styling and need not be used with a permanent waving solution.

Perm rods go with damp hair, so you don’t have to worry about heat damage. They come in narrow ⅛” rods up to jumbo 1 and ½” rods, so you can create tight straw curls or casual waves with them. You can even achieve a permanent head of curls if you undergo the chemical route.

Just make sure you understand what the procedure entails before moving forward. Chemical treatments alter the structure of your hair and can lead to (reparable) damage.

But don’t let this deter you from rocking a perm because learning and practicing aftercare makes all the difference!

If you’d like to know more about perm rods and how to use them, you can go over our ultimate guide here. We even have an article about aftercare, so you’ll know how to take care and maintain your perm.

Flexi rods

Made with soft foam, Flexi rods are easier to use. They come in different diameters — ⅜” to 11/16” — so you’re able to achieve small or big curls. Depending on how you use the rods, you can get loose curls, voluminous downward spirals, or romantic ribbon curls.

They’re flexible in more ways than one, as they’re compatible with both wet styling methods and those that require heat.

Using Flexi rods also means less stress for your roots. Your locks are not as tightly wound as Flexi rods don’t come with clasps. The trade-off, however, is that the style doesn’t last as long.

For a complete guide on Flexi rod styles, sizes, and how to use them, you can check out this article.

Things to Consider When Choosing Between Perm rods vs Flexi rods

Hair type

Perm rods and Flexi rods are compatible with all hair types! If your hair is fragile, though, you might want to try Flexi rods first. These rods tend to be gentler on your hair because they don’t have clasps or fasteners.

Hair Length

Perm rods are quite short, so you’ll need plenty of them if you’re styling long hair. Flexi rods are long enough for you to wind your locks around, so you won’t be running out of them in the middle of styling. But if you’re rocking a bob, perm rods will be more than enough to finish the job.

Desired curl size and style

Are you a fan of loose, elongated curls or tight, springy ringlets? 

Well, Flexi rods can help you achieve elongated curls. This is because you can wrap your locks down them instead of around them.

On the other hand, Perm rods give you tighter, neater curls, no matter their diameter.

This isn’t to say that achieving loose waves is impossible with perm rods.

You can choose bigger diameters for this. Smaller curls are possible with Flexi rods too. However, there are subtle but noticeable differences between the resulting looks.

Preferred curling method (heat or no heat)

Traditionally, perm rods go with wet styling methods and chemical solutions to achieve permanent curls. Today though, we use them for temporary curls too. Simply keep them on until your hair dries and the look sets. 

Flexi rods, on the other hand, are more versatile. If you prefer styling with heat, you can start with dry hair. One advantage is the curls set much faster. If you have time to spare, you can begin with damp hair. This gives you tighter curls despite using a Flexi rod. 

If you start with wet hair, you can leave either of them overnight* too. The difference is, Flexi rods may be more comfortable to sleep with.

*Unless you’re using chemicals — waving solutions and neutralizers can damage your hair if kept on longer than instructed.

Which is better: Perm rods vs Flexi rods?

I wouldn’t say one is better than the other because different hair types will warrant different styling tools. 

They each have their pros and cons too. If you understand your hair’s needs and know what you want, choosing between both of them won’t take too much time.

Perm Rods

– Avoid heat damage because they go with wet styling methods
– More apt for achieving permanent curls or waves
– Give tighter, neater looking ringlets
– Easy to pick up and use
– Can be heavy and uncomfortable while you wait for your curls to set
– Can achieve only one size of ringlets corresponding to the rod diameter used
– Tighter and induce more stress on your hair

Flexi Rods

– Can be used with either damp or dry hair
– Made of soft, light, and flexible foam, so they’re easier to sleep or move around with
– Gentler on hair
– Better for longer hair
– Reduced drying time because they allow more air passage through rolled locks
– Have a bit of a learning curve
– Absorb chemicals used during a perm, so it’s not advisable to use them for treatment

Naturally curly hair

If you already have naturally curly hair, using perm rods or Flexi rods can help enhance your mane. Deciding between them is going to depend mostly on the look you want to achieve.

If you’d like tight and sleek ringlets, perm rods are your best bet. Flexi rods, on the other hand, can give you loose downward spirals. They can give you smaller curls, but they won’t look as sleek as perm rod curls. 

In the long run, Flexi rods may be better for natural curls because they are gentler and don’t come with tight clasps or fasteners. They reduce drying time too because more air can pass through despite completely rolled locks.

Naturally straight hair

Are you bored with your straight hair?

Well, know that you can style your plain locks and rock either temporary or permanent curls — depending on your commitment.

If you’d like to know how curls or waves would look on you, using Flexi rods would be a great start. There’s a bit of a learning curve to them, but you’ll learn how curl your hair in no time once you get the hang of it. 

Keep experimenting with them until you achieve your desired shape, size, and style. Remember to use some curling cream to allow the look to set.

Once you’re satisfied and used to the look, you can proceed with a perm. This will require the use of a waving solution and a neutralizer together with perm rods. If you aren’t confident in your styling skills yet, you can head to a salon for some advice or to have it done there professionally.

Perm rods vs Flexi rods: How to Use Them

Run your hair with a mousse or protective cream before you start using either perm rods or Flexi rods. You can start with damp hair for either tool. But if you’d rather not wet or wash your hair, use Flexi rods. 

How you wind your locks is where the difference lies.

Perm rods are horizontal styling tools, while Flexi rods are vertical curling tools. This means that you can wrap your locks down a Flexi rod resulting in elongated curls. This is difficult to do with a perm rod because they aren’t as long.

That said, perm rods are more appropriate for chemical perms since they won’t absorb chemicals as Flexi rods would.

The closing or locking mechanism for each rod is quite different too. Perm rods come with clasps, so your locks are securely fastened in place. In contrast, Flexi rods are bent upwards on both ends to form a closing loop.

If you use it on wet hair, you’ll need to wait for it to dry. But if you start with dry hair, you’ll need to keep the rods on for an hour or even more (the longer, the better!). Using a blowdryer will help set the style. 

If you don’t mind sleeping with the rods on, you can wear them overnight. Flexi rods are more comfortable in bed. The absence of clasps means they’ll be gentler too.

It’s easy to release the curls. Simply straighten the Flexi rods or unclasp the perm rods to unwind your locks, and you’ll be set to showcase your new look!


Do Flexi rods help curl pattern?

They sure can! Flexi rods can enhance your natural curl pattern and bring the bounce back. You can also use them to change your curl pattern. The look can last several days, especially when coupled with styling creams or defining gels.

Can you use Flexi rods for perms?

Flexi rods are made of foam which might absorb the chemicals used during a perm. 

I wouldn’t advise using them for perms. While the absorbed solutions won’t ruin your rods right away, your Flexi rods may not last as long as you expect them to.

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