If you have medium to long hair that you love wearing in a ponytail or clipped off to the side so that it looks like you’re wearing one, it’s little wonder that you may consider a ponytail perm. After you designate the hair that you wish to perm, you will follow the same steps as you would if you were doing a full-head perm. Afterward, you’ll be left to enjoy the carefree curls that should embody the low-maintenance softness and spunk that you’re after.
Conduct a Practice Run First
Brush your hair back into a ponytail and secure it with an elastic band for a practice session the day before you plan to do the actual ponytail perm. The practice session will allow you to make modifications before it’s too late -- when the permanent waving solution is already on your hair.
Experiment with the placement of the tail by raising it high and then pulling it low. Depending on the length of your hair, the movement may affect the hair that falls out of the tail. Generally, the higher the tail, the less hair you will have to perm; the lower the tail, the more hair you will have to perm.
Spray your tail with hair spray and then wrap sections of it with different-size rollers. This key step will help you determine the size of the roller you wish to use: The larger the roller, the bigger and softer the curl; the smaller the roller, the tighter the curl.
Dry your tail with a blow dryer and let the curlers sit for 30 minutes.
Remove the rollers and inspect your hair. Run your fingers through the curls. Are they the right size -- or too big or too small? Did you use enough curlers to achieve the look you desire? Set aside the right number and size of curlers that you wish to use for your real perm.
Perm Your Ponytail
Brush your hair into a ponytail and smooth it thoroughly to ensure that there are no tangles, crimps or snarls.
Grab a wrapping paper from the at-home perm box and slide it past the ends of your hair. This placement will ensure that your hair will be curled at the ends and won’t crimp or frizz.
Choose a rod, wrap the end of your hair and roll it slowly to your scalp. Fasten the rod shut. Be sure that the roll is even; if it’s bumpy, it will curl that way too. Curl the rest of your ponytail in this manner.
Put an old towel around your shoulders and fasten it with a hair clip.
Open the waving solution by snipping the top of the plastic bottle with scissors. Look at the solution and then the curlers on your head to gauge how much solution you will need for your perm.
Saturate each rod with the waving solution, applying it evenly across each rod several times. The waving solution softens your hair so that it will curl.
Open the plastic bag from the kit and put it over your head. Fasten it with a clip. Let the waving solution sit on your head for the time recommended by the kit.
Remove the clip and the plastic bag after the time is up. Rinse each rod thoroughly under warm water for between three and five minutes each. You can rinse your hair in the shower or arch your head under a sink, especially if you have a sprayer with which to direct the water.
Blot your head with a towel to absorb excess water.
Open the neutralizer by snipping the top of the plastic bottle with scissors. Apply the neutralizer evenly over each rod. The neutralizer “rehardens” your hair to set the curls. Let it sit for the length of time recommended on the box -- usually between five and ten minutes.
Rinse out the neutralizer with warm water by either rinsing your hair with the rods still in it, or removing the rods and paper very carefully, one at a time, without disturbing the curl, and then thoroughly rinsing your hair until the "slimy" texture of the neutralizer is completely gone. To be sure, put your fingers in your hair and then rub them together. Remove the rods from the bottom and work your way up.
Let your hair air-dry and then enjoy the spunk of your new ponytail perm.
Consider using mid-size or large rollers for your ponytail perm to avoid creating a dramatic difference in the wave pattern between the permed and non-permed sections of your head, especially if you should choose to wear your hair down and loose at times.
After a perm, don’t wash your hair for two days, so that the chemicals have time to set; rinse your hair with water instead.
Purchase and use shampoo and conditioner that is made for “chemically treated hair.”
To prevent drying out your permed hair, use low heat settings on your curling iron and blow dryer, and attach a diffuser to the latter.