Jheri Curl

Jheri Curl perm
Photo: Tiffany Bryant/Shutterstock
Q: I’ve been using a Jheri Curl for years and years. I was told I can’t wear a perm. I want my hair relaxed, so what can I do to achieve this without using the Jheri Curl?
A: Technically speaking, a Jheri Curl is a perm. It falls into the category of services called “soft curl perms” whose purpose is to reconfigure tight curls or kinky texture into larger, softer curls.
Since its origin, the process has been adapted and modified by many different makers and in some cases has been changed enough that it is incompatible with certain other chemical services.
Since I don’t know what brand of “Jheri Curl” has been used on you, I can’t say with any certainty what you can and cannot do on top of it. Original Jheri Curls were very similar in formulation to traditional perms used on Caucasoid hair types, with the exception that a sodium bromate solution was used to neutralize the perm so as to keep the hair from being lightened by hydrogen peroxide (the traditional neutralizer for thio-based perms).
I strongly recommend you consult with a local professional about your options. If your Jheri Curl has been something you’ve done yourself at home, you should take your product packaging with you, so that the stylist knows exactly what’s been used on your hair.
If you’ve had your hair done in a salon, don’t hesitate to talk to the salon about the specific Jheri Curl formula they have used. The precise chemical make-up of the product used on your hair is going to be a key factor in making smart choices for your hair.
See also:
Perms and perming hair
Hair straightening and relaxing Q&A
Can Jheri curl rollers be used to curl straight hair to achieve the effect of fine curls?