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Get Perm Out of Your Hair

Q: I had a perm last night. When I got home I was ready to cry. It is just this big, poofy-poodle, tight-curled mess. I wanted large curls. I do not know why I even got a perm because every time I ask for large curls - like the largest curls that they have - I always end up with this spiral mess.
 
      When I got home I was crying and asked my mom for help. We washed it twice which I know I was not supposed to do but I wanted to get it out. Then we blow dried the hair and flat ironed it. Right now it is straight but even after I was washing it yesterday I could see the intense curls. I know that eventually in like the next 3 months the perm will come out but now my concern is that I will have to flat iron it everyday and I have a lot of hair so this is quite the process. Plus I am sure now that I have damage. I do not want this perm at all. It was awful looking.
 
      My concern about telling my stylist is that I would not mind putting a relaxer on it to get rid of the perm but I am deathly afraid of my hair just breaking off. I was hoping that by doing what I did last night that most of the perm is out but I am not sure. Does washing your hair immediately after you get the perm and flat ironing it take the perm out or at least take out the immediate tightness that it has?

 
A: Okay. Iím very sorry that you didnít get the results that you wanted from the perm service, but the problem should be repairable. However, I do want to make sure you understand a couple of things:
 
      First of all, when a permanent wave service is performed properly and correctly and fully neutralized, the hair is as stable as before it was permed. The perming process breaks the disulfide bonds in the hair and reforms them in the new curl shape. The only way that making physical styling changes would affect the perm is if the perm wasnít properly neutralized.
 
      Since the disulfide bonds (the chemical side bonds in the hair) account for about 1/3rd of the hairís strength and wave, then you can use physical styling (blow-dry straightening and flat-ironing) to straighten the curly hair, but the physical styling (which breaks and reforms the salt and hydrogen physical side bonds of the hair {these account for 1/3rd of total strength and wave each}) will only last until the hair is wet once again. Generally, this means until the next shampoo.
 
      As for how soon you can correct this, you need to talk to your stylist. Let him or her asses the condition of your hair and how soon it will be before you can resolve the issue. Discuss the aspects of your hair and the current level of curl that you are unhappy with and see what he/she recommends for helping to resolve the issue. There are many new gentle perm formulas out there used for curling and straightening, as well as new processes to smooth and calm the hair for sleeker, smoother hair. Perhaps one of these would be just what you need.
 
      If your hair is in suitable condition, then you should be able to have a thio-straightener applied and smooth out the hair Ė or simply have the hair re-permed using much larger tools for bigger, softer curls.
 
      As a final note: it seems that part of the problem you have is that you arenít getting your wishes (what you want your hair to do) clearly explained to the stylist who has given you the perm, or the stylist isnít listening. I strongly recommend that when you talk to the stylist again (or if you choose a new stylist) be sure to have photos showing the kind of curl you want for your hair, and talk beforehand about what needs to happen to get that look. Sometimes, a little mis-communication can mean a lot of headache and heartache.
 
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