Perm Without the Smell

Smelly hair after a perm
Photo: Aaron Amat/Shutterstock
Q: Can you tell me how I can get a perm without the awful smell?
A: That awful smell associated with permanent waves is caused by ammonia. The strong smell can usually be avoided by selecting low-ammonia formulations of permanent waves, or opting for an acid perm.
Acid perms typically use glycerol monothioglycolate instead of ammonium thioglycolate to break the disulfide bonds in the hair. They are generally much gentler to the hair and are slower acting, often requiring heat application to make the perm process work.
It's important when using at-home perm kits of an acid perm that you read the instructions carefully in order to make sure you fully understand the differences in the procedures you must follow.
There are also low-ammonia waves that can be found on the market. These relatively new formulas work in much the same way as their older counterparts, but do have a reduced level of odor. However, there may still be some caustic smell associated with the perm.
In order to deal with the smell after the perm, you can always look for anti-odor shampoos that will help remove the smell of perms as well as other chemical processes or environmental odors.
See also:
How to remove perm smell
Hair deodorizer to take the bad smell of a perm away
The difference between an acid perm and an alkaline perm
Is an acid perm or an alkaline perm more likely to smell burnt after processing?