Hairstyles, Hair Care & Fashion

Perm & Straightening Hair

Q: I desperately need some help with the mop located at the top of my head. Well here it is: First, I permed my hair, like, last year after X-mas time and then during the summer I straightened it. Instead of making it straight, it just took most of the curl out and now I want to neutralize the straightener so I can just "scrunch" my naturally curly hair and have it curly. What can I do to take out the perm (and the straightener) and get my hair back to normal? Is it even possible to get my hair back to normal?
A: Unfortunately, you can't take out the perm and the straightener and get back to normal. The reason it's called a perm is because the changes made to the disulfide bonds are permanent. Your hair has been chemically treated twice in the past year. The first time, you broke and reformed the disulfide bonds to create the curl you achieved with your perm. Then, you broke at least some of the disulfide bonds and reformed them to get less curl. The only way you're going to get back to your hair's natural wave pattern is to let the chemically treated hair grow out which can take a long time.
However, as long as your hair hasn't been too badly damaged by the chemical processes it's already undergone, you can re-perm your hair to something close to your natural curl pattern. Having had two previous processes in the last 12 months, I would recommend you see a professional about getting the next procedure. Be sure to take a photo of your hair with its natural wave pattern and talk to the stylist about what type of perming procedure you need to get the look you want. If your hair curled naturally into coils, you probably need to get a spiral perm. If it was naturally curled into rippling waves, then a standard perm wrap would suffice. Not knowing exactly what the natural wave pattern is means I can't tell you exactly what you need to do.
If you don't want to go for another chemical process, or if your hair's condition precludes another process, then you could try one of the myriad products available for "curl enhancing" to bring out the curl you do have remaining. You may also try having some layers cut into your hair to allow for more lift among the curls that remain. I wish you the best results, whichever way you choose to proceed.
Related posts:
How perms work
The scientific processes during perming and relaxing
How long do I have to wait to straighten my perm?
Is it ok to use canola oil to get rid of my perm?