5 Things You Need to Know About Perms

by Livestrong Contributor ; Updated July 18, 2017

All About the Curls

A perm, also called a permanent wave, is a procedure that uses chemicals to add curl to your hair. Perms that add loose waves instead of curls are often called body waves. Frequent perms can damage and weaken your hair, since the harsh chemicals are actually causing a permanent change in your hair.

Do It Yourself

Perms can be done professionally by a hair stylist, or you can buy a perm mix and do it yourself at home. If you go the home route, read the directions on the box carefully before beginning. It will be helpful to have a friend assist you. You will need two to three hours to do your perm. Begin by shampooing your hair well, but don't use a heavy conditioner as this can interfere with the chemicals in the perm. Blot your hair dry with a towel, and gently comb your hair, using a wide-tooth comb or a brush designed to be used on wet hair. Rub petroleum jelly around your neck, ears and hairline to protect your skin from the chemicals. Wear the plastic gloves provided with the perm. Then roll your hair in the rods and apply the perm solution. Leave in for the amount of time specified on the box, rinse the rods and take them out. Neutralize your hair, using the solution that comes with the box. Do not wash your hair for at least 24 hours after a perm.

Shell Out the Big Bucks

If you have damaged hair or hair that has been treated frequently, you should opt for a professional hair stylist. Even though it will cost much more, you can count on getting a good perm. You should also consider using a professional if you want an unusual style or if you are hesitant about rolling your hair on perm rods. It can be difficult to use the rods if you are unfamiliar with them.

Keep it Up

Keep your new perm looking good. Your hair will be more fragile after a perm, so you'll need to take extra steps to take care of it. It's critical to use a good conditioner after shampooing. You only need a small dollop. Just apply it to your wet hair, wait about 60 seconds and rinse well. You also need to do color after your perm, rather than before. Coloring first gives you the risk of fading the color, since the peroxide solution is the perm can penetrate hair and easily break up the color.

Too Much Curl

If you're unhappy with your perm, there are a few steps you can take to reduce the amount of curl. You can simply cut it off, but if this is too drastic, trying applying a straightening gel to your wet hair and then blow-dry it with a round brush. Some stylists saying washing your hair several times with a very strong shampoo can take out some of the curl.

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