Get Rid of a PermQ: I want to completely get rid of my perm to form dreadlocks. I've been growing it out for a while but it's been growing really slowly. I heard rinsing the hair with vinegar can wash out a perm. Is there any way to get rid of the perm without having to cut my hair?
A: Vinegar certainly won't do anything to rid the hair of the perm. While vinegar is acidic and will strip the hair of oils and moisture, as well as swelling the hair shaft if left on the hair for too long, it does nothing to break and reform the chemical side bonds that were altered in the perming process. Aside from waiting to have the permed portion of the hair grow out, you could consider having your salon stylist perform a thio-straightening process (with a minimal processing time) to break the curls and reform them in a straighter form.
This may not be desirable when you want to create dreadlocks, and you will want to talk with your stylist (the one who will be performing the dreadlocks formation) before you undergo such a chemical process. There are dreadlocking techniques specifically designed for use on permed or relaxed hair.
In fact there is an option often used for those who want to begin with dreadlocks called a dreadlock perm. In this case, you could possibly have your hair repermed to create a uniform "kink" to the hair and then have the hair twisted into dreads.
Even with all the options, your best bet is to speak to an experienced stylist so that he or she can assess your hair and suggest the most-appropriate course of action. With most of the dreadlocking techniques there may be some initial cost to have the dreads started, but you can learn to maintain them on your own, thereby saving yourself unneeded expense.
Perms and perming
Permanent hair straightening
How to create dreadlocks
Thin hair and dreadlocks