Hairstyles, Hair Care & Fashion

Perms, Shampooing and Oil-Based Treatment

Q: I got my hair permed and I was told to wait 48 hours before shampooing. If I wait longer than the 48 hours, is there a better chance that my perm will stay "locked in"? Second, I got my hair permed on big rods to loosen my natural curl and to make the curl pattern more even. Can I use a rich, oil-based hair treatment that requires you to leave it in - at least 20 min. but preferably to leave it in overnight? Will using an oil-based treatment relax the effects of my perm? Thank you for your help.
A: Ok, the first thing I want to say is that a lot of people have a misconception about what the waiting period following a perm is supposed to accomplish. The wait time isn't to "lock in" the curls, or to prevent the curl from being "de-activated". In the perming process, the neutralizing step is what locks in the curls. What the wait period accomplishes is to give the hair time to "normalize", meaning to return to its normal pH balance. Perms are highly alkaline and leave the hair's cuticle layer open and susceptible to moisture loss and damage.
Most shampoos are also alkaline (to a much lesser extent) and can dry the hair out when the hair has been permed. By giving the hair time to rebalance in its pH levels, you prevent drying out the hair and damaging it.
As for the oil treatment, it shouldn't affect the "perm" at all. However, if the oil is particularly heavy and gets absorbed into the hair (particularly if it is left in overnight), it may very well weigh the hair down, causing the curls to look loosened. If this is the case, you should see the hair curl more after shampooing it following the oil treatment.
Related posts:
Perms and perming hair
The natural pH level for hair
Can I wet and style my newly-permed hair after the first 24 hours?