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Hair Perms: What Can Go Wrong?


Jessica Simpson Wearing A 22" Curly HairDo Clip-on Hair Extension

Although it seems a little unusual to me, I still receive a lot of emails eelated to the topic of hair perms that have gone wrong.

The bad perm victims include women as well as men and covers all hair lengths from super short to very long. It also related to strands textures from fine to thick, straight to curly. Yes, people with naturally curly hair succumb to perm challenges, which is a whole other topic.

If I have learned nothing else about hair over the past several years, I have learned that applying chemicals to the hair will usually cause some sort of problems. Many hair experts have told me this repeatedly when I discuss chemical processing.

Perms That Go Very Wrong

Soft curls and waves are sizzling hot. For many, chemical perms applied to stick straight strands appear to offer the answer.

Perms are the simple chemical process of changing the natural shape of the hair follicle. Yes, chemicals applied to the hair actually breaks the natural textural code and then reforms the hair so that the texture is different.

A hair perm can be achieved through either a cold or hot chemical process.

A number of factors are involved in making a perm successful or unsuccessful.

  • Correct chemical lotion strength.

  • Right curler size for the hair type and length.

  • Amount of time that the developer is allowed to remain on the strands.

  • The expert skill of the hairdresser applying the perm process

  • Whether hair has been previously chemically treated (color, straightener or perm).

  • Texture of the hair (some texture can be permed better than other textures).

Why Hair Perms Go Bad

Jessica Simpson Wearing A Curly HairDo Clip-on Hair Extension

While the majority of hair perms may work out okay, there are several proven reasons that history has shown why hair perms can go bad.

These include the following reasons:

  • Wrong sized rollers are used on the hair

  • Incorrect hair tension is applied to the rollers that are used

  • Inappropriate timing on the perm solution with the solution being left on too long or not long enough.

  • Perm solution is not completely rinsed from hair.

The most common reasons for perms going bad include rolling the curlers too tightly, applying excessive perm solution and using the incorrect development lotion.

Regardless of the condition of the hair before the perm and the skill of the hairdresser applying the perming solution, damage to the hair is a guarantee. Anytime you apply a chemical application of any sort to your stands, damage is a given.

Keep in mind that the longer the development time of the perm solution, the tighter the resulting curls. The shorter the development time, the softer the curl pattern.

Hair Perms - Alternative Solutions

Jessica Simpson Curly HairDo Clip-on Hair Extension

If you want to adopt the gorgeous waves and curls which are currently hot in the hair fashion world you don't have to rush to have a chemical perm applied to your hair.

With the introduction of the Ken Paves HairDo clip-in hair extensions in a wide range of lengths and textures there is no reason a hair consumer ever need to undergo a chemical perm and risk growing out the damage of a perm for the next six months.

Besides the clip-in hair extensions are a variety of other texture altering temporary and permanent hair extension options.

POP extensions allow consumers to add individual pieces of hair in a wide range of textures including wavy and curly.

There are many alternative solutions that work just as well, if not better:

Other curl and wave adding options include:

1. Start with a precision haircut designed to maximize your own natural texture with styling products and hot tools. Work with your hairdresser and tell them you want to enhance your own natural waves and curls without a perm or other chemicals. 2. Learn to use hot rollers, curling irons and waving irons. With a little practice you can easily create new texture without long term damage. Yes, hot tools can damage the hair if used inappropriately or too often, but with the right technique and tools you can greatly minimize any potential hair damage. 3. Work with wet sets. Rag rollers (either homemade or purchased) can create spectacular curls and waves - even on stick straight hair. Pin curl wet sets also work great. 4. Buy add-on human hair strands that are already chemically processed to curl. Blend with your own strands for unique hairstyles that have curls or waves without any heat or chemical perm damage.


Any time that any sort of chemicals are applied to the hair, damage to the overall health of the hair is a given. The amount of damage that is inflicted depends on the amount of time that the chemicals are allowed to remain on the strands.

When you see celebrities morphing back and forth from stick straight to a head full of lush curls and waves you can be sure they are not achieving that texture as a result of a chemical perm. In fact, if anything, they are wearing a variety of hair extensions that have been permanently treated to show off luscious harm free texture.

If you want to talk more about this or other hair care articles on or anywhere else, please post a message on's Hair Talk Forums.

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