You can perm hair on almost anything that you have lying around the house. Any type of material that is of desired shape, nonporous and nonmetallic will work. The possibilities are as varied as your imagination. Plastic bottles, pencils, roller-setting rods, plastic bags, building blocks and candles can all be used to achieve different looks when perming hair. Once permed, your hair will directly mimic the size and shape of the homemade rod used. If you use a triangular rod, your hair will lie in a geometrical, crimped pattern. Circular rods create classic curls.
Creativity is needed when selecting homemade perm rods. Look around your home and try to find items that you can use as perm rods. Avoid metallic objects as these will react with the perm solution resulting in discoloration of the hair. Nonporous materials work best; porous materials pull the perm solution from the hair and absorb it, which may result in unevenly curled and/or frizzy hair.
Traditionally, perm rods are rod-shaped. Rod-shaped items that you may find around your home include straws, markers, candle sticks, hair rollers, pencils and plastic bottles. Plastic baggies also can be rolled up into a circular shape and used as perm rods to achieve a classic curl.
Other nontraditional items can be used to create a unique look. Square-shaped or triangular-shaped materials can be used to create geometrical patterns on part or all of the hair. Laminated Popsicle sticks result in a zigzag pattern.
Once you have several ideas, you can weed out the bad ones and zero in on the inspirational ones. First, think about the size of rod that you need. The amount of curl that you achieve depends primarily on the type of perm rod that you choose. The curl pattern of the perm will be the same size as the rod. If you wish to have a lot of tight curl, choose a small rod. If you wish to add body and direction to your hair, use a larger rod.
You also should consider how you are going to wrap the hair and secure the homemade perm rod. Small rods can be easily secured with hair clips. Larger rods, such as plastic bottles, require a little bit more creativity and preparation. You may have to cut the ends off of the bottles in order to secure them properly. Plastic bags can be secured into place by tying the ends together.
Keep in mind how many rods you will need to perm all of your hair, and select the material that is abundant enough to get the job done without taking shortcuts.
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Kathy Mayse began her writing career as a reporter for "The Jackson-County Times Journal" in 2001. She was promoted to assistant editor shortly after. Since 2005, she has been busy as a successful freelancer specializing in Web content. Mayse is a licensed cosmetologist with more than 17 years of salon experience; most of her writing projects reflect this experience.