Q: I am doing an at-home perm. Can I use regular foam / sponge rollers if I still wrap them in paper?
A: You’ll need to make sure the rollers won’t break down in the thiol solution (the waving lotion) before you wrap the hair on them for
the perm. I recommend purchasing a spare perm kit, taking the sponge of one roller and saturating it with the waving lotion and sealing
it in plastic bag for one hour. Watch for signs of break-down of the sponge (discoloration of the waving lotion, etc.).
After an hour, remove the sponge, rinse it thoroughly and saturate it with the neutralizer and place it in another plastic bag for 30
minutes (again keeping an eye out for signs of disintegration.)
At this point the sponge should be removed from the bag, rinsed thoroughly and tested for its
structural integrity. Pull and squeeze the sponge, and rub it firmly between the fingers. If the sponge shreds easily or collapses after
exposure to the chemicals, you will know that it is unsuited to use as a perming tool.
Using non-traditional perm tools is an excellent way to get the kinds of results you want from your
perm, but you must make sure that the items you want to use will be suited for the purpose. You can always test an item before using it,
and make sure you test it “off the head” and not where it can come in contact with your hair as well.
In some cases there could be a chemical interaction that can damage the hair if the hair is exposed
to it. If your available foam rollers prove unfit for use in perming, you might consider using magnetic rollers (the plastic cylindrical
rollers traditionally used for roller sets) if you want larger and softer perm results. You will want to be sure, however, that you also
use plastic coated roller clips if you go this route. Good Luck.