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hair perms

Permanent waves, or as they are normally known, perms, is the result of a chemical process on hair to make curls.

In order to permanently change the shape of the hair, it is necessary to alter a number of disulfide bonds.

There are different types of perms available. However, they are all largely based on two kinds of reducing agents: thioglycolates and bisulfites. In this way, all permanent waving solutions involve a similar chemical principle. The permanent waving process starts with hair washing. Subsequently, curlers are arranged on the hair in accordance to the degree of curl wanted. Then, the permanent waving solution is administered on the hair. In order to alter disulfide bonds, the permanent waving solution has to reach the cortex through the cuticle, which is done by using alkaline reductive solutions. These lift the scales of the cuticle. Ammonia and ammonium hydroxide are the most common alkali agents. The reducing agent, that is, thioglycolates or bisulfites, split some of the disulfide bonds, but not too many because, otherwise, the hair will not properly recover. When the bonds are ruined, new bonds are created. The permanent waving solution is then rinsed off, and a neutralizing solution solidifies the bonds through re-oxidation. This neutralizing solution most usually contains hydrogen peroxide as oxidative agent. Finally, the cuticle scales go back to their original position.

Some unwanted outcomes of permanent waving may include swelling and longitudinal contraction. Actually, these can continue after the rinsing and neutralizing of the permanent waving solution. Another result of permanent waving could be the characteristic smell, which may persist for days or even weeks after the treatment. To elude these irritation reactions and odor, it is imperative to avoid washing for several days as the permanent waving “heals”. Gloves are compulsory for the technician or the person who practices the permanent waving.

Because chemicals are harsh in nature, contact with the skin should be avoided or, at least, minimized. Permanent waving that is not well practiced will most probably result in no longer elastic and flexible hair, but brittle and fragile. At this stage, even combing will produce hair loss. However, hair will grow again.