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There’s no need to fear because better brands of perms are here. Gone are the bad perm days of the 1980s because chemists who care finally got it right. The best brands of perms today let you choose the kind of curl you want in a formula that’s right for your hair type. Your hair can look so natural that your friends will wonder if you’ve been straightening your hair this whole time.
Types of Perms
When you shop for perm kits or ask for one at your favorite salon, you’ll notice that you can choose among varieties that have an acid or alkaline base. The difference between the two is the amount of ammonia in the product. For tighter, Alicia Keys-like curls, go with an alkaline-based perm. This type of perm is also ideal if your locks are coarse, thick or are resistant to chemical treatments. If you prefer the looser waves in Kate Hudson’s hair, or if your tresses are baby-fine, opt for an acid-based perm.
What to Shop For
The best brands of perms don’t come in one-size-fits-all solutions. They offer the level of curl you want at a strength that’s perfect for your hair type. To help combat the effects of a perm -- like dryness, unsightly frizz and damage -- the top brands also include conditioners in the perm solution and post-treatment conditioning instructions. Also, look for a perm that has information about the ideal curling candidate and who should stay away from this type of chemical treatment because honesty is a sign that a brand has integrity.
Regardless of the type of perm you choose, your tresses will experience collateral damage. Even the best brands of perms work by breaking down the bonds that make your hair naturally straight. These same bonds are the ones that help your locks retain moisture and make them strong. If you have sensitive skin, always do a patch test to see how you react to a perm. Even the best brands of perms can give you an allergic reaction or make your scalp feel like it’s burning.
Hair expert Mark Garrison told readers in an article for “Ladies’ Home Journal” that the way you treat your tresses now can impact how they look when they are curled. For the best results, prepare your mane by using a deep-conditioning treatment during the month leading up to your perm. Keep your curls looking fabulous by resisting the urge to use styling products that use heat (like hair dryers). Instead, replenish the moisture your locks lost by using conditioners that also contain protein treatments.