Hairstyles, Hair Care & Fashion

Endothermic and Exothermic Perms

Q: I'm thinking of getting my hair permed for the first time, but want to know what types there are, and if it's worth me going for one at all. I've got medium length, thick but quite fine, un-dyed hair, which is in really good condition (I hardly ever use heat styling/styling products and condition it regularly). But it basically has no style at all, no layers, nothing.
I've curled (heat and roller) my hair in the past, and it holds shape brilliantly, but I never have the amount of time it takes to style regularly. I'm hoping that a perm would be "self-maintaining" or close enough. Is there a type of perm which gives loose-ish curls (not 80's corkscrews), won't do too much damage, and will last? And do I even have the right type of hair?

A: From what you describe, you should have no trouble with a perm at all. Given that you say your hair holds curl beautifully in other styling techniques, a perm should work very well for you once you choose the right type of curl for you.
Perms come in two main types: endothermic and exothermic. Endothermic waves need to have heat applied to process the perm, while an Exothermic wave is formulated to generate its own heat and process by itself. The endothermic waves are usually “acid waves” or “low-pH” waves and are better for fine hair types and when you want softer curl. The exothermic waves produce firmer curls and are better for coarse hair types and the hard-to-curl hair.
Of course, the curl results you get (as in the size and shape of the curls) depends on the wrapping method and tools used. You can have a perm applied using any of a number of tool types, from standard rods in various sizes, to unusual tools (such as a frozen juice cans, foam blocks, etc.).
Given what you say you want in results, it sounds like you would be happy with what is called a “beach perm”, where the hair is wrapped on random-sized tools – all larger – to create varying large-sized curls that fall loosely around the face and add some fullness and wave to the hair, without looking “permed”.
Talk to your salon professional about the options available at their facility and don’t be shy about asking to see results from the tools/techniques recommended. If they cannot offer you the kind of results you want, ask them to refer you to a salon where you can get what you need from the perm service. They will likely either give you the reference, or will offer to get the needed material to produce the results you desire.
I wish you all the best.
Related posts:
How to wrap a beach perm
How to wrap for a body wave
How to wrap a spiral perm
The difference between an acid perm and an alkaline perm