Photo: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
There is a lot of controversy in the realm of women with natural hair regarding perming. Some use the word perm when they mean chemical relaxing, while others consider a spot perm a way to volumize or blend their natural look. Perming natural hair has unpredictable results, so consider going with pros who know their way around perming rods and the care and handling of natural hair. Everything from the rods' diameters to the method of rolling affects your perm's outcome.
Give Me Strength
Your natural hair is far stronger than hair that has had chemical treatments such as relaxers and dyes. For this reason, perming your natural hair can work, but perming and dyeing it can be excessive. In addition, having a perm means kissing direct heat styling tools goodbye. The hot comb, curling iron and flat iron can make delicate permed hair split and break.
Perming Straight Hair
If your natural hair happens to be straight, wavy or only lightly curly, a perm can give your look some body and bounce. Your goal is to avoid the poodle perm look of the '80s, in which your whole head is covered in perfectly matched spirals. Today's perm professionals use rods of different diameters and leave some sections unwrapped for a more natural look.
Curly girls sometimes consider perms in hopes of creating a more manageable head of hair. In most cases, this approach fails. However, there is hope. Stylists have begun employing spot perms to create S-curls in sections of your hair that have less curl or body.
Perming your natural hair does more than give it curl. It swells your hair follicles, making your porous hair prone to frizz. Taking care of permed hair is a whole new game. Skip the daily shampooing, particularly if you use products with sulfates. Upgrade to a thicker conditioner so that your strands get slippery and easy to disentangle while you're showering. Toss your hairbrush and employ a pick-style comb or your fingers instead, and only comb out your hair while it's wet. Squeeze out extra water from your hair and then apply your styling products while your hair is still damp. Sleep on a silky pillowcase so your hair doesn't tangle during the night.
Timing Is Everything
If you are in the process of going natural, you may be tempted to get a perm to even out your hair's shape or texture. However, in most cases, you're better off waiting until your hair grows out. Perming processed hair damages it too deeply. Once your hair has grown out enough, you can trim away damaged ends and try a perm.