Body Wave PermQ: I have relatively long hair (almost to my bra line across my back), dark brown, fine but lots of it, and am thinking about getting a VERY LOOSE perm. I just want to get some wave and volume, not curls persay. Is this possible in today's age of perms?
A: Today's age of perms can certainly give you exactly what you want. What you need is a body wave, which is basically a perm wrapped on large tools (rollers or rods). Given the length and texture of hair you describe, I would recommend a tool that is at least 1-1/2 inches (3.75cm) in diameter. There are spiral-wrap tools available in the sizes suggested that I have seen in shops, but no standard perm rods that size (your stylist would need to use plastic rollers).
Given the non-standard nature of this body wave procedure, (and the potential need for the stylist to purchase specific tools) the perm may be a little more expensive than normal. I recommend that you go in for a consultation and discuss what options are available and see if you might be able to purchase the necessary tools yourself and save money on the perm. Depending on the salon, the stylist and the area in which you live the costs could become significant (typically you will find a price range of US $40 to $125 or higher). It all depends on the rates the local market will bear, and the salon or stylist's policy on "specialty procedures".
You can go as large as you wish with the wrapping tools (I've heard of specialty perms being wrapped on empty frozen juice cans), but remember, the larger the tool, the more subtle the wave pattern will be.
Also, you should note that large-tool perms are not only useful for adding body and light wave, but can be used to reduce the amount of curl in the hair as well. It can take hair that is very curly and hard to manage and reshape the curls into larger, more tamable curls. It all depends on what you are looking for in the service.
I always recommend going to a salon for chemical services, but if you're intent on performing the service yourself, I recommend you enlist the aid of a friend, because simply wrapping the hair will be more difficult than usual. Also, when using non-standard tools for perming, be sure to use plastic clips to secure the tools in place. Metallic clips can react to both the waving lotion and neutralizer in a perm and can cause discoloration or damage to the hair.
Perms and perming
Perm rod sizes
How loose can you get a perm to be without falling out completely?