Remove Perm Rod Marks

Perm rod
Photo: Tmon/Shutterstock
Q: My sister has me searching online for a solution to perm rod marks left in her hair by a recent perm. She has tried conditioning, and they are still very prominent and she is embarrassed to be seen.
Can she comb neutralizer through her hair to help remove some of the perm and the rod marks? She has blond, thinning hair anyway and this perm has just made a worse mess. Can you offer any suggestions?

A: Do not "just comb neutralizer" through the hair. This can be very destructive to the hair.
The neutralizer used in a perm service is simply a formulation containing hydrogen peroxide meant to neutralize the chemical reactions that take place in a perm service and to restore the disulfide bonds in the hair. Using neutralizer will not "undo" a perm. Usually, it will only lighten the hair somewhat.
What you should do look for a very mild perm formula (perhaps a low alkaline perm, or at least a pH balanced perm) and use this by coming it through the hair with a wide tooth comb, and allowing it to sit on the hair for about 5-10 minutes, rinse it thoroughly, then use the neutralizer as directed (usually for 5 minutes) before a final rinse. Follow this up with a deep conditioning treatment.
DO NOT try this if the hair appears rough or damaged from the previous chemical service. It's better to deal with some roller marks than break the hair off by trying to perform a chemical service on weakened hair.
See also:
How perms work
The scientific process of perming and relaxing hair
How to prevent or get rid of perm marks or rod marks