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If you were born with naturally straight hair, you may long for curly or wavy locks to spice up your look. Perming kits for home use offer a way to attain your dream, but they are not altogether foolproof. When a perm yields less-than-desired results, don't resign yourself to looking like a frizzy poodle until it grows out: You can undo your 'do by acting quickly. It may seem counterintuitive, but another perm kit will strip away the results of the first one if you'll use it in a different manner. To be most effective, you will need to strip away the old perm within two or three days to restore your straight texture.
Deep-Condition Your Hair
One day prior to stripping your perm, apply a deep-conditioning treatment to your hair according to directions and rinse thoroughly. This is an important safeguard that will protect your hair from the double processing that it is about to undergo. It will also help repair any damage that may have occurred during the first perm that might have led to your initial poor results. Look for labels that say "reconstructor" when you choose your conditioner for the best results.
Release the Curls
Pin a towel around your shoulders to protect your clothing. Detangle your hair gently with a wide-tooth comb, then apply the perming solution. Make sure all of your hair is saturated. Continue to comb your hair for 15 to 20 minutes until the curls are gone and your hair is straight again. Unlike the previous perm, you won't be applying curlers to your hair at this point. Your goal this time is to regain your straight hair. Don't stop combing your hair until the curls have been completely released and your hair relaxes into its normal texture.
Rinse and Neutralize
Rinse away all of the perming solution, while keeping your hair hanging as straight as possible. This is challenging unless you do it in the shower. Otherwise, have a trusted friend assist you with this step. The perming solution loosens the protein bonds in each hair shaft. Normally you would set your hair on curlers or perming rods to create a new curl pattern, rinse it with the curlers present, then neutralize it to "set" new protein bonds (and curls) in place. This time, you will immediately apply the neutralizer that was included in the kit to your rinsed, straightened hair. Work the neutralizer through each strand, wait five to seven minutes, and rinse with warm water followed by cold water to close the hair cuticles.
Restore Moisture and Strength
Gently pat or squeeze the hair dry in a clean towel without rubbing. Friction at this stage in the process could create breakage and frizzing. Apply a leave-in moisturizing conditioner to stave off brittleness and to add tensile strength and elasticity to your hair. Use the leave-in conditioner daily for up to two weeks while your hair recovers from the chemical treatments it has undergone. Wait at least three months before attempting another perm.
A Note of Caution
If your hair shows signs of major breakage following a bad perm, do not attempt to strip away the perm using these methods. Apply a deep conditioner immediately and seek help from a professional stylist to protect yourself from serious hair loss. These instructions may not work to undo the effects of cold-wave curly perms designed for African-American hair. Different chemicals are involved, and the results could be damaging. Consult a trained stylist instead, or allow the perm to grow out for three to six months before applying a chemical straightener (relaxer).