Home Perm Techniques

We've all been there-our hair fried from the ends to the roots, sticking straight out and straight up, leaving us looking like the Bride of Dracula. You probably swore off home perms for good after that. The problem? It's expensive to get perms in a salon. Depending on where you go, a perm can cost anywhere from $40 to over $200. If your hair is in good condition, you buy quality perm products and you follow directions precisely, you can give yourself a home perm. Here's a tip: You can find beauty supply stores that sell perm products to the public. With these professional supplies and a little know-how, you can achieve flawless home perms.

How Perms Curl Your Hair
Before you decide to do a home perm, you should understand a bit about how perms work. It may seem unimportant, but, if you know a little about the chemicals you're using and how they work, you are much more likely to get a good result.

Your hair has its natural texture and shape due to a network of chemical and physical bonds. The perm solution breaks those bonds so your hair can hold new shapes, which are created by the rods you wrap your hair around. Finally, the neutralizer re-forms the bonds so the new shape lasts.

Two types of perms are available, and it's important to know the difference so you choose the best formula for your hair. First up are alkaline perms. Alkaline perms contain ammonia, usually called ammonium thioglycolate. You want to use an alkaline perm if your hair is resistant to styling, if your perms tend to relax too soon or if you want a tight, strong curl.

The other type of perm is an acid-based perm. Acid-based perms usually contain an ingredient called glyceryl monothiglycolate. An acid-based perm is the best choice for a soft, natural look, creating less curl and more body and for hair that is fragile or delicate. Acid perms require heat to process, and you may want to use a hood-type dryer.

The neutralizer is extremely important in perms, including home perms. The neutralizer stops the perm solution from breaking down the hair's original chemical bonds, allowing new bonds to form. Neutralizers typically have hydrogen peroxide as their active ingredient.

Now that you have a basic understanding of how perms work and you are familiar with the key chemical ingredients used in home perms, you're ready to get started.

Time to Perm
Begin by reading all of the instructions that come with your perm products. Different perm products need different perm processing times, so be sure you understand the directions.

Then, wash your hair. If it's been previously colored or permed, you may need to apply a very small amount of cream conditioner before you begin. The conditioner will provide a barrier between your hair and the harsh chemicals of the perm so you reduce potential damage. If your hair has not been altered chemically before, skip the conditioner.

The most difficult part of home perms is also one of the most important: Sectioning and blocking your hair into equal parts. Learning how to section and block your hair so that each part has a uniform thickness can be a little tricky, so take your time and practice to avoid an uneven look.

Wear gloves when applying the perm products because the chemicals can burn your skin. Gloves should be in the boxes of all home perms.

Smoothly and evenly wrap your hair around the perm rods. Don't pull the hair too tight or stretch it, or you can damage your hair.

Wrap one section of hair at a time. Make sure all the ends of your hair are folded into the end papers that come with your perm product. Don't try to put too much hair on one rod. Follow the illustrations on the instructions for the proper rolling pattern.

Keep a spray bottle of water handy. If your hair starts to dry before you get it rolled up, just spray it lightly until it is wet again.

Once all of your hair is rolled up, thoroughly saturate every curl with the perm solution. Use all of the solution. Now, time the perm according to the instructions. Perm processing times can vary with different hair types and lengths, but they will fall into the range listed in the directions. Perm processing times are extremely important, so don't get distracted. Never, ever leave the solution on longer than specified in the instructions. You won't get more curls. You'll get frizz-or, worse, your hair could break off or dissolve into a gummy mess.

When the perm processing time has been reached, rinse the hair thoroughly with warm water, and then apply the neutralizer. The neutralizer must stay on for five to eight minutes, again according to the manufacturer's directions.

Finally, remove the perm rods, and rinse your hair well in cool water.

If your home perm products come with an after-perm conditioner, apply it now and leave it on for the time specified. Rinse again, and let it dry.

Look in the mirror-your home perm will look beautiful.

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Different types of perms can yield different results, so you want to be sure you know which option is right well before you settle into the salon chair.

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Not all of us have hair that will hold a curl. For example, my hair is long, fine and straight with a few natural waves. I have had many perms, professional and home perms. None of them lasted very long. I did everything right.

Perming your hair at home is not as easy as some people think. There is a lot involved in this than just applying a perm solution and you think you will have a great curl. You have to remember you are applying a chemical to your hair and have to think about what type of curl you want to achieve before doing this or you will end up with a head of frizz and no curl.

Have you seen the price of a salon perm lately? It is not uncommon to pay between $75-$100 for a permanent wave in a salon. That's $75 you could be spending on shoes or makeup, or more honestly gas and groceries.

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