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Perm Bleached & Damaged Hair

Q: I would like to have my hair permed in a loose curl but am worried about the perming process. One hairdresser said that if I had my hair permed, as my hair has been bleached, had sun-in and permanent hair colorant the hair would turn to cotton wool and break off! Is this true?
 
A: Well, I canít really say one way or the other, because I havenít seen the condition of your hair. Perming can be very harsh to the hair, and is generally not recommended for those people whose hair is already damaged. However, I have known women who have had repeated color changes to their hair Ė both bleaching and coloring Ė and still gotten successful perms.
 
      The thing to be really careful of is performing chemical processes to already damaged hair. To tell if your hair is damaged, check these three things: Look, Feel and Reaction to Moisture.
 
      How does your hair look? If itís smooth, shiny and looks healthy, then it probably is. However, if it looks dry, frizzy, or burned, you have some damage.
 
      How does the hair feel? If it feels soft, silky and you can easily slide your fingers through it, it is probably healthy, but if it feels dry, rough and brittle, youíre looking at damaged hair.
 
      How does your hair respond to water? Take a spray bottle and mist your clean and dry hair (with no styling products on it) with water. Does the water bead up on the hair before being absorbed? If so, the cuticle is probably still fairly well intact. If the water seems to be soaked up as fast as it touches the hair, the cuticle is probably open and the hair is porous. Keep misting the hair. Once the hair is wet, if the hair strands seem to join together and hang in clusters, the hair is probably pretty healthy. If the hair looks frizzy even when wet, and/or feels spongy and slightly rubbery, then you have definitely damaged hair.
 
      My best advice is to see another stylist if you donít believe the first one was correct in her assessment. A second opinion is your right as a client. The initial stylist who told you that your hair would turn to cotton wool and break off, was probably concerned about the condition of your hair and did not want to take the liability of giving you the perm and having something terrible happen as a result. A different stylist might tell you the same thing, but then youíll at least be able to say you have the second opinion.
 
      Even if your hair is in no condition to be permed at present. You can begin getting treatments that may help restore some measure of health to your hair and be able to get a perm after some regular conditioning treatments and protein treatments. There are a wide variety of perm formulas available for all hair types, and some are much gentler than others.
 
      Donít ignore the advice of the initial stylist, by any means, but if you feel she was being alarmist, or that her assessment may have been in error, get the second opinion and look into ways to fix the problem before doing anything to make matters worse.
 
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