Hairstyles, Hair Care & Fashion

Perm & Melted Hair

Q: I have fine color treated hair (red from a box, no bleach) and I want to get a perm because I am growing it out long and don't have the patience to style it every morning. I just want to scrunch it and go. I went to Ogle beauty school where they were going to do it for me. She used a de-tox shampoo and did a test strand for ten minutes with a Sheltons brand perm "for color treated hair" and it melted my hair. I had a perm put on my hair in tenth grade, my hair was color treated too and it even had sun-in in it and it did fine.
One of the cosmetologists said that Sheltons carries a different brand perm called Iso and it shouldn't do that to my hair. He even said it was good for bleached hair. I don't know what the brand we used in tenth grade was and I don't remember if she used a detox shampoo or a regular shampoo. The girl that did a test strand said that I should get some protein treatments and deep condition my hair. So I am doing that. I guess I am wondering if I go back, if I should keep the protein conditioner in my hair and have them wash it out with the de-tox shampoo, wash my hair as normal and have them wash it with with a regular shampoo, or wash my hair as normal and use a de-tox shampoo. After using the de-tox shampoo, my hair was very hard to brush through though.
I also asked the lady at Sally’s beauty supply about the whole situation. She took a strand of my hair and pinched it between her fingers and ran them down the strand. She said that I had good elasticity/porosity because the strand curled up and that if it had stayed straight that it would not be good to put a perm on my hair. So basically she said that it was fine. I would like to know what you suggest because I would really like to get a perm but I do not want to completely destroy my hair. Seeing it melted kind of freaked me out but I know that I have permed my hair before and it turned out great. Thank you so much!

A: This is why we always stress the importance of strand testing before any chemical service. Many people in your position would have assumed that because they had received a successful perm service before that there would be no reason to expect otherwise from this one. Had you not had the strand test beforehand the result could have been disastrous.
One thing you haven’t said anything about was the type of haircolor you used on your hair. Certain haircolor formulas that use metallic salts in the hair dye formula can react badly with the perm solution and can result in melting the hair as you describe. Typically these are the “gradual gray coverage” haircolors like Grecian Formula, but some other “instant coverage” hair colors use these same metallic dyes.
If you still want to get a perm, your best bet is to take the packaging from your hair color with you the next time you go for a service. The stylist should be able to identify any possibly harmful chemical interactions. If you prefer, look up the product’s website and check for any “frequently asked questions” or warnings and cautions associated with the product. Most websites (and the packaging for that matter) will include specific warnings against other chemical services if there are ingredients that can cause harmful reactions.
If this isn’t the case, there is still the possibility that your hair has changed over the years and that the perm formula was simply too strong. Perhaps a gentle, acid-balanced perm would be better for your hair type. Regardless of what you choose to use, make sure a strand test is performed before any new chemical service.
As for the protein treatments and whether to shampoo beforehand, I have this to say: the “de-tox” shampoo (or clarifying shampoo) used before a perm service is meant to remove any styling product residue and help prime the hair to receive the perm chemicals. The protein treatments are meant to be performed so that they can be absorbed into the hair shaft where they will do the most good. This won’t be a “one-step fix” it’s a matter of routine. The results are cumulative. So, use your protein treatments on the schedule that’s convenient for you and allow your hair to regain its strength and moisture balance.
Related posts: Perms and perming