How Do I Perm My Hair Without Getting Chemical Burns?

Woman having curlers removed from hair

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That one to two hours spent in the chair getting a perm can save women several hours of curling or straightening their hair every morning. If done properly, permanently curling or relaxing hair chemically is a safe process. However, many things can go wrong, all of which will lead to uncomfortable and potentially disastrous chemical burns. Not only are the burns painful, they can also lead to temporary hair loss. Whether having your hair permed professionally or at home, proper preparation and application is essential to prevent chemical burns.

Wash your hair with clarifying shampoo four to five days before the perm. Clarifying shampoos help remove any excess oil, dirt and residue from your hair, which creates a better finished look. Avoid washing your hair within the last four to five days before perming, to allow the scalp's natural oils to build, which helps protect your scalp from chemical burns.

Avoid rubbing or itching your scalp as much as possible during the two or three days before the perm. Rubbing and itching your scalp causes small cuts and abrasions that can become irritated and inflamed during the perm. If you must, try gently tossing your hair to relieve an itch instead of touching your scalp directly.

Avoid exercising vigorously the last two to three days before the perm. The sweat -- and the salt that's naturally found in your perspiration -- will accumulate on your scalp, and it will not only neutralize the natural oils but may also cause your scalp to itch.

Brush out every tangle from your hair. This prevents you from having to brush out any snarls while the permanent chemicals are being applied. Tugging or brushing on your hair during the chemical processing can irritate your scalp, leading to a potential chemical burn.

Apply a thin layer of base oil to your scalp. The oil helps create an additional barrier between your scalp and the chemicals. If you have sensitive skin that's prone to burning, it's especially important to choose a product formulated for your sensitive scalp. Purchase a base oil from a salon or beauty supply store featuring castor oil or olive oil and apply a thin layer of it over your entire scalp minutes before the perm. Pay attention to apply the base oil to the area around your ears and the nape of your neck to avoid burning these often overlooked areas.

Pay attention to the clock after applying the chemicals to your hair. Avoid leaving the chemicals on any longer than recommended by the manufacturer. If you feel any slight burning, rinse out the chemicals immediately before that slight irritation becomes a severe burning sensation.