Perm and Deep Conditioner

Short permed hair
Photo: Anna Tronova/Shutterstock
Q: Can a deep conditioner loosen a perm? I got a perm a month ago and it's a little loose at the root. Is this common? Thank you for your time.
A: If a perm is properly processed and neutralized, when it is finished it should be as stable as your natural hair. It will simply have a new texture and wave pattern. In many cases, the effect of a permanent wave service includes a swelling of the hair shaft, which can make the hair feel thicker. This is because the cuticle layer is slightly raised.
A good deep conditioner can help to smooth the cuticle layer and soften the hair, which can make the hair look and feel more flexible and silky, and therefore cause the appearance that the perm has been loosened.
What has actually happened is more akin to the effect of a deep conditioning treatment on dry, naturally curly hair: the hair appears frizzy and has high volume before conditioning and after is smoother and less voluminous because of the smoothing effect on the hair's cuticle layer.
Add to this that any changes made by the perm service to the hair will not have any effect on the new growth. After a month, the average person will see about a one-half inch of new growth at the scalp. If your hair is naturally fine and limp, or very straight without a perm - even if it is simply less curly - a month's worth of new growth can result in a relaxed look in the hair at the scalp because the new growth will follow your hair's natural wave pattern.
Oddly enough, a deep conditioning treatment can actually help to revitalize an older perm. Many women find that their perm seems to "fade" after several weeks and that the hair isn't as curly as it was initially. This is often due to the increased porosity of the hair after perming and gradual loss of moisture resulting in an increasingly rough cuticle and drier, more brittle hair.
A deep conditioning treatment can smooth the cuticle and soften and re-hydrate the hair which will allow it to curl more easily according to the perm technique used. Many women find that their old perm has a new life after a deep conditioning treatment.
See also:
Perms and perming hair
Will humidity affect a perm?