Hairstyles, Hair Care & Fashion

Foil Perm or Partial Perm

Q: Do you have photos available of foil perms? I understand it's a process where you perm half or part of the hair instead of the entire head, and the outcome is the perfect perm. A hair stylist recommends this technique to me but I cannot picture the outcome of a part of the hair being permed. What does the un-permed hair do?
A: I haven’t heard the term “foil perm” before, although the idea of a partial perm (where sections of the head are permed and others left natural) or a root perm (where only the 3-4 inches of the hair shaft nearest the scalp are permed) are fairly wide-spread practices in many salons. Based on the references of other hairstyling terms – comparing it to the term ‘foil highlighting’ – I think it’s possible that ‘ foil perm’ may refer to a technique of perming slices of the hair interspersed throughout the head while protecting the other slices of hair with foil to keep them from being exposed to perming lotion and neutralizer.
Understand that this is all conjecture, and without specific information on what the stylist you visited intended to do, I can only rely on my experience and sense of what is intended. The idea of perming specific slices of hair would work best on hair that has some natural curl already, or at least, a strong wave pattern. In such cases, the permed slices would add some added body and texture to make the hair appear more naturally curly, since the results would be more "organic" and seemingly random.
If, however, the "foil perm" is simply another term for a partial perm, the idea is simply to add more curl to a specific area of the head, and is generally performed so that the permed section enhances the overall look of the hairstyle or creates a specific wave pattern/effect.
It is also possible that the term refers to a variant of the "root perm" technique, where the hair is permed at the upper length of the hair strands, in order to give more volume to the hair. In this case, the intent would be to strengthen the wave pattern at the upper lengths of the hair strands where the weight of the hair itself tends to flatten the curl by pulling it down. The result here would be more consistent curl along the length of the hair shaft without removing the natural looking wave at the lower ends of the hair.
I can answer your latter question easily. The hair that is un-permed will do exactly what it always has. If the hair is straight, it will remain straight, if it has curl or wave, the pattern of that curl or wave will remain unaffected. The goal is to have the permed and unpermed portions of the hair meld into a natural looking curly hairstyle.
Related posts:
Partial body perm
What is a spot perm?
What is an organic perm?
What is a digital perm?