Perm Processing Time

Processing a perm
Q: I recently had my hair permed. The person who did it said, “I don’t time anything, when I see the plastic hair cap steaming up, you’re done.” I don’t have any idea how long it was processing. This was supposed to be an old-fashioned curly hair style, which I use a curling iron to roll out a bit. I did not wash my hair for 3 days, so as not to disturb the new perm. Now, after washing my hair, using a little mousse, my hair will not curl at all.
Speaking with another hairdresser, I am told this permanent was over processed. No matter what I do, it will not curl. It looks like dried straw. Do you have any suggestions as to what I can do? I normally roll a curly out, so that I can tease it a little on top for height, and wear it shorter than it is at this time. The hairdresser who permed my hair didn’t cut it as I requested, only barely trimmed it in a few places. I am in the public eye a lot. I am dressed up every day. I don’t know what to do with it.

A: Well, I rarely find myself willing to say this, because I try to respect other professionals in the hair care business, but hearing a story like this makes me so angry. The first thing you should do is get rid of the person who permed your hair. There are “self-timing” permanent wave formulas on the market today, but even those should be timed and monitored carefully.
No stylist can be so certain of how the hair will react to any given perming solution that he or she could simply observe the “vapor pattern” on the plastic cap to determine how long the perm should process. Add to this, the fact that the stylist failed to cut your hair the way you requested and you have ample reason to never allow this person near your hair again.
As for how to help your damaged hair, the first thing you need is to restore the moisture balance to the hair. To do this, you need to begin deep-conditioning treatments. You can get these done at a salon or do them yourself at home using your favorite conditioner.
Simply select a conditioner (be sure to use one that has a moisture rich formula), apply it to your hair, cover with a plastic cap, and either sit under a dryer for 20 minutes on low heat (you can wrap the head in warmed towels from the clothes dryer or use your hand-held dryer with a diffuser attachment to keep the hair warmed if no bonnet dryer is available).
You should also look for a particular product that I can recommend. As our regular readers know, we at Hairfinder’s avoid endorsing any specific company or brand name. But there is a product on the market that is an “Overnight Repair” treatment, made by a popular brand. The product is applied to dry hair before bed. It quickly absorbs into the hair and works overnight to restore a smooth healthy look.
Use the repair treatment, and deep-conditioning at least once a week, until your hair begins to look stronger and better. As the moisture content is restored and the hair’s strength and elasticity returns, you should be better able to hold curl. I would avoid using any heat styling appliances as much as possible. If you want to instill curl into your hair, consider picking up some sponge rollers, or the newer, soft rubber gripping rollers that are designed to be slept in.
Using these rollers, you should be able to get the curl you desire, and by setting the hair slightly damp and allowing it to dry naturally overnight, you will avoid damaging the hair further. To avoid friction from your pillows while the hair is in rollers, wrap your rolled hair in a silky or satiny scarf. I know that this may seem to be an inconvenience, but it is best if you avoid doing anything more to damage your hair. (Wrapping the hair in a scarf even when it isn’t being rolled is not a bad idea, given the level of damage you describe.)
Finally, after you’ve given your hair enough time to recover as much as possible, you can find a new stylist who can help you determine the best course of action to restoring the curl you were after with your perm.
Photo: Metamorworks/Shutterstock
See also:
Roller styling techniques
Signs of damaged hair