What Is a Texture Perm?

Texture perms are supposed to look natural and subtle.

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Gals have been perming their tresses for decades, so using this process to change your hairstyle is no biggie. The modern perm is way better than it was when your grandma popped into the salon, though -- as cosmetologists and scientists have figured out all kinds of different ways to control results and create different perm styles.

Definition

A texture perm is a chemical process your stylist uses to change the shape of your hair. Cosmetologists sometimes refer to a texture perm as any perm that changes the overall feel, consistency and look of your hair. For instance, the website of The Beauty Parlour, a salon in Kaukauna, Wisconsin run by beautician Christina Marie, describes texture perms as "perms reproducing natural curl." That definition gives a ton of leeway for what a texture perm actually can look like. When a salon takes this view on texture perms, they sometimes list all kinds of perm styles under texturizing services. Very strictly, though, a texture perm is similar to a body perm, which provides very loose waves, but is a little more subtle. Some salons that make this distinction, very specifically list traditional perms and texture perms separately, even though the process is pretty much the same.

The Process

Texture perms use the same basic process used for any perm. Your stylist washes your tresses to make sure you don't have any oils or product buildup on your hair that can prevent the perm chemicals from getting into your strands. She then sections your hair and wraps the sections around perm rods or rollers that can stand up to the perm solution. The next step is the application of the perm solution; the chemicals in the solution can vary based on the results you want and how stubborn your hair is. The solution lifts up the protein scales of the cuticle, or outermost layer of your hair, and then breaks some of the chemical bonds deeper in the strands that give your locks shape. Your cosmetologist then rinses out the perm solution and applies a neutralizer, which helps rebuild the bonds based on the design of your rods and rollers, giving you a new hair shape. After the neutralizer is rinsed out, you're good to go. For a true texture perm, your stylist will use the biggest rods she can to give you barely-there waves.

Why Gals Get Them

When you go through the texture perm process, the chemicals in the perm solution end up swelling your strands and changing the structure of your hair. This helps your hair feel and look fuller. With some very subtle wave or curl in your mane, your strands can't sit as flat, so your hair has better movement and looks more full of life, voluminous, airier and not as weighed down. Changing the shape of your hair also can give you some control over stubborn areas you have trouble styling. Waves and curls can soften features, too; some girls get texture perms so their faces don't look as bold or harsh. Plus, even though straight hair is gorgeous in its own right, hair that's voluminous and looks naturally wavy or curly is chic and the rage on the runways.

The Dark Side

Even though the benefits of texture perms are clear, texture perms are chemically-based. The process of perming inevitably damages your hair to some degree, even if the impact on your look is very subtle. Your hair might look better, but it will be a little weaker and won't be able to regulate moisture quite as well. You'll need to give your mane some more TLC compared to before perming.

Confusions

Texturizing sometimes refers to a specific process that takes out some natural curl or wave for a straighter look. Some texturizing solutions use the exact same chemicals as perms do, though. Straightening hair with texturizing solutions works basically the same way as perms -- with the solution breaking the bonds that give your locks shape. For this reason, some cosmetologists refer to texturizing solutions as texturizing or texture perms. Because of this, you need to be specific what you mean when you tell your stylist you want a texture perm.

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