If I had a dollar for every time someone referred to chemically straightened kinky/curly/coily hair as a perm, I’d be a millionaire. There is a difference between relaxers and perms. Similar process but different results.
Both the treatments lift up the outermost layer of the hair strand and break the hair bonds deeper that changes the natural texture of hair. Both the treatments make use of chemicals and heat to alter the hair texture.
Perms add curls or waves to hair while relaxers straighten the already existing curls.
For perms, chemicals are applied to the hair along with rollers or rods. After applying chemicals, hair takes the shape of the rollers or rods and is neutralized. The shape provided to hair during treatment becomes the new shape of the hair. Which means the shape and size can be customized. Perming lasts usually until new hair grows out.
For perms, chemicals (known in the natural hair community as creamy crack) are applied to the tightly curly hair. After applying the chemicals, hair is permanently straightened. Losing the curl pattern entirely. Relaxing lasts usually until new hair grows out.
IN A NUTSHELL
Black girls get relaxers. Chemically treated hair can not be reversed. To go back to your hairs natural state, you must either Big Chop or Transition.