Hair care advice: Choosing a shampoo for permed hair
Hair care advice for finding the best products to protect permed hair.
Perms (sometimes called permanents) are chemicals that are used to reshape hair into a specific style. The protein bonds of the hair are broken down by either a gel or a liquid, then reshaped with rollers or sometimes left straight, depending on the desired hairstyle.
There are two major types of perms: acid and alkaline.
An acid perm is the least harsh on hair and works best to loosen or straighten hair that already has a natural curl. An acid perm generally won’t give a dramatic curl effect. Acid perms are usually not as harsh as the types used in salons and are generally safe for at-home application.
Alkaline perms are stronger than acid and work best when applied by a professional. Alkaline perms, sometimes called cold waves, contain chemicals that allow for dramatic curl, wave and ringlet designs. This perm type can also be used to straighten hair, if rollers and rods are left out of the setting process.
What chemicals make up perms?
Perms are available in liquid and in cream form. Ammonium thioglycolate and alkaline sulfite are used in liquid form to make straight hair become curly. Perms that contain sodium thioglycolate are usually cream or gel-based. Sodium thioglycolate perms are used to straighten or relax hair.
What should I expect from a perm?
Depending on your hair type and the perm solution you choose, you can expect anything from curl-free straight hair all the way up to tightly curled ringlets. But if the perm, no matter what type you choose, is not applied properly, damage can dry the hair, cause breakage, frizz and fall-out.
There are many types of perms on the market; some can only be found in salons, while others are readily available to the public at inexpensive prices. A home perm can be risky unless the person applying it is aware of the dangers. Read the instructions carefully, follow them to the letter and use a timer to keep track of the application time.
Another way to determine if a specific perm type is for you is to perform a patch test. In a patch test, a piece of hair, usually at the back or nape of the neck, has a small amount of the chemical applied. After the chemical is washed out, wait 24 hours. Look for signs of breakage, damage or dryness. If the perm performed as expected, feel free to proceed. For your safety, most permanent wave and relaxer kits contain instructions on how to perform a patch test.
What shampoo is best for permed hair?
The key cleanser in most shampoo is ammonium lauryl sulfate–a detergent. Its job, no matter what your hair type, is to rinse the hair clean. But permed hair is generally weaker and more prone to breakage than untreated hair. Look for shampoos that contain humectants or moisturizers that fight dryness.
A couple of shampoo ingredients that work well with permed hair are:
Silicones are liquids used to coat the hair shaft. Silicones, or any ingredients that end in “methicone”, are great for permed hair because they smooth the hair, adding shine and manageability. Continuing your styling regimen with conditioners and styling products made with silicone will keep permed hair from drying out or frizzing. Take care not to overdo silicone, however. Curly permed styles look best when they are not weighed down by too much product. With straight permed styles, silicones work best for a glossy look.
Glycerin is a natural humectant and water attractor that has been used for centuries after being discovered as a byproduct of the soap-making process. Glycerin has been shown to hold moisture when applied to wet skin and hair. Choosing a shampoo with glycerin as an ingredient will help to keep permed hair hydrated.
How can product keywords help choose the right shampoo?
Another way to determine if your shampoo is formulated for permed hair is to note product keywords. Some shampoos are listed as “for permed hair”. Words like hydrating, moisturizing and curl-defining work great for permed styles. Curl-boosting, wavy and curl-boosting are also good keywords for permed hair.
For straight perm styles, look for keywords like moisturizing, protecting and shine-enhancing. These keywords infer that these shampoos are formulated to combat the dryness and breakage that relaxants sometimes cause.
When shopping for shampoo formulated for permed hair, look for specific ingredients. The higher an ingredient’s listing, the more of that ingredient the product contains. Look for keyword signals for permed hair needs. Armed with these tricks, choosing a shampoo for permed hair can be a fun, easy process.