Hairstyles, Hair Care & Fashion

Bad Perm

Q: I just received a really bad perm. I went in with long wavy hair, and asked for tight curls, about the size of my thumb. She said ok.
The first 2 inches of my hair is super curly and cute, but it immediately goes stick straight all the way down from there. One of my friends suggested that it could be because the ends of my hair were just too wet when it was rolled, and my wet ends repelled the solution. She also suggested that it could be because of the paper used on the ends of my hair. Because my hair had a layer in it, each roller had 2 pieces of paper used ... 1 at the ends, and another one an inch or two up from it.
The girl then cut off my hair so it just barely sweeps my shoulder, saying that the reason my hair wasn't taking was because my hair was too long and heavy (which doesn't seem right, I have had perms before on MUCH longer hair, and never had a problem).
I had a perm over a year ago, which was a big curl that fell out (which was likely because the curl was too loose for my thick hair), and I used a perm solution that I combed through the last couple inches just to take out the last bit of curl. That has all since been cut off, but the girl who permed my hair seems to think that it might have been a problem.
I'm at a loss. I look like an idiot and my hair is too short to pull back and pretend it doesn't exist ...

A: From the description of your results, it sounds like your hair may have been over-processed in the perm service. This could mean that the perming solution was too strong, or that it was left in place too long. This becomes increasingly likely if your hair was in less than ideal condition along the lower lengths. It’s also possible that your friend’s theory was closer to the mark and that possibly the hair was overloaded on the rods, resulting in the lower portions of the hair being less well-saturated by the waving lotion.
The specific problem might be more evident if I could have examined the hair before and after the perm, but at the moment we’re simply forced to guesstimate what may have occurred.
The bad news is that if the problem is a matter of over-processed hair, there’s nothing you can do to put curl back into the lower portions. Attempting to perm it further will only result in further straightening the hair. (You may be able to console yourself by knowing that this means the hair was likely already damaged and that the damaged portions can be removed making the rest of your hair much healthier.)
If the problem is that the hair was underprocessed, you can have the hair re-permed. This time, hopefully, by a stylist who is better able to correctly handle your hair’s needs. I would advise that you visit another salon/stylist and explain to them what was done, and what you suspect to have been the problem. Be sure to give your “hair care history” - previous perms, your styling routine, etc. – to allow the stylist to develop a picture of what kind of problems could likely arise and what may need to be done to prevent further problems.
This new stylist can likely advise you on the actual problem you faced, and can furthermore give you some advice on what you can do to correct the issues and proceed forward.
I wish I could tell you it is going to be just the way you want it, but I can’t know without being there. I do recommend in the meantime that you make sure to use a deep-conditioning treatment one or two times a week and a leave-in conditioner every day to make sure the hair stays well hydrated and moisturized.
Related post: Perms and perming hair