Photo: Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images
If the idea of perming your hair makes you think of nothing but frizzy, dry, over-processed ends, think again. There's another option and the results are anything but damaging. An air perm is the gentler alternative to the traditional perm, giving you a head full of luscious curls that are sure to get some looks.
The Traditional Perm
The traditional permanent wave system relies on a series of chemical reactions to lock in curls. Once wrapped, the curl solution is applied and left to do its job for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Next comes the neutralizer. The active ingredient in most neutralizers is hydrogen peroxide, a clear liquid and strong oxidizer that penetrates the hair cuticle as it releases oxygen. If hair damage is what you are trying to avoid, steer clear of peroxide.
Oxygen Does the Work
Instead of applying a neutralizer to the hair after rinsing out the permanent wave lotion, the hair air-dries, rods intact. Oxygen in the air does the same job as hydrogen peroxide without the unwanted damage that causes frizz. Although you may look less than chic leaving the salon, the rods must stay in for 24 hours before removal. The 24-hour time frame gives oxygen the time it needs to form long-lasting, sensual curls.
The Conditioning Option
Aside from the lack of peroxide, the 24-hour air neutralizing process has even more of an advantage over the traditional perm – conditioning power. Special conditioners can be applied after removing the curl solution, an option that traditional perms can't offer. With a full 24 hours to saturate your hair, conditioning while air neutralizing leaves your hair soft and healthy after processing.
Not For Everyone
Air perms are not for everyone. If you have short or sexy-smooth healthy hair, the air perm is not for you. However, if your tresses are long or damaged from previous color applications, you're the ideal candidate for air perming. Because of its gentle nature, an air perm is also an option for children and those who take certain medications that enter the hair shaft and interfere with the performance of traditional perm neutralizers.