The Best Perms for Hard-to-Curl Hair

A perm reflects your sassy and savvy personality.

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Good perms break the fashion chain that binds you to hot rollers, curling irons or flat irons. Like the bra-burning craze of the '60s, perms are liberating. With perms, you can wash, finger-comb and go. Women with hard-to-curl hair can enjoy the same perming benefits as other women by selecting products designed for their hair type.

Alkaline Perms

For a strong, firm curl, try an alkaline perm. Alkaline perms, also referred to as cold waves, usually use ammonium thioglycolate as the main setting ingredient. Alkaline perms have a low acidity of between 9.0 and 9.6 pH. They are excellent for hair that is curl-resistant, thick or has never been processed but unsuitable for women with damaged or over-processed hair.

Exothermic Perms

If bounce and resilience fit your hairstyle dream, check out the exothermic perm. Exothermic perms use a chemical reaction to produce heat. The heat allows the chemicals to penetrate deep into the hair cuticles and condition from the inside while it sets on the outside, according to Styles 101. The heat also shortens the amount of time needed for the perming process. Exothermic perms use ammonium thioglycolate and have a pH of 9.0 to 9.6. Exothermic perms are good for hard-to-curl hair and hair that is thick or coarse but may damage delicate or processed hair.

Immediately After

A gentle touch is key during the 48 hours following a perm. During this time, the keratin in the hair hardens into its new shape. Protect your new hairdo by using your fingers to gently detangle your locks. If you must brush, do it with a light touch. Avoid shampooing, styling gels and any appliance that uses heat.

A Little Caution

A frizzed-out, Bozo the Clown hairstyle is perfect for the circus but a disaster in the real world. Get the silky smooth and avoid the frizz by leaving the perming job to the professionals. If you’re one of the brave who prefer to perm at home, take a few precautions. Never use perms on hair that is damaged or is in poor condition. Before perming, make sure your scalp is in good shape and free of scratches or cuts. Avoid perming if you have recently used other hair-processing products or if you are using a product that contains metallic salts, such as Grecian 2000.

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