Photo: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Got breakage? If so you know that every time you brush, style and shampoo a little bit more of your hair gives up and slides down the drain. Hair prone to breakage can withstand very little tension, and perms are all about tension. Hair on the back of the head usually starts breaking first because of contact with pillows, clothing and necklaces. If your hair is breaking off in the back now, it will only get worse if you perm it. A perm of any sort is out of the question. If you leave the perm on the shelf, you'll keep more hair on your head.
You may not know what's causing your breakage unless you can pinpoint exactly what happened -- too many color jobs back to back will send your hair packing. Chemical services are among the main causes for breakage followed by tight hairstyles like microbraids or the perpetual ponytail -- you know you're guilty. It's easy, right? If you haven't the slightest idea why your hair is punishing you, the cause might be internal. Certain health conditions, such as thyroid disease, and some medications can cause brittle hair. Brittle hair cannot stretch and bounce back like healthy hair, so instead of stretching it breaks when faced with tension.
Perms place a great deal of physical tension on the hair. For one, perm rods aren't feather light. Each rod places weight on your hair, and the simple act of wrapping the hair also causes tension. When you rinse, the water adds more weight. And then there's the process of blotting away excess moisture before applying the neutralizing solution -- all of this adds up to a lot of tension.
Chemical tension is where most people run into problems. Although the chemicals are liquid and don't weigh that much, when they go to work on your hair, the tension becomes unbearable. Perm solution causes swelling of the hair shaft. When the diameter of each hair swells, the tension placed on the hair causes weaker hairs to snap. Not only does chemical tension cause you to lose hair immediately, weakened hairs continue to fall out for several weeks after the perm.
Creating a Permable Future
So, a perm is out of the question now, but that doesn't mean you can never get one. First, you need to get your hair in shape. Take care of any underlying medical problems that may be affecting your hair. Start babying your hair. Deep conditioning treatments and regular trims will remove the damaged portions, making it possible for you to perm. To know if your hair is ready, pull on a single wet strand in the affected area. If it stretches, you're good to go. If it breaks, your hair needs more time.