Banishing Bad Hair Days since 1997!™

Victory Over A Bad Hair Perm

Introduction - Victory Over A Bad Hair Perm

A True Story Of A Woman Who Took On Her Hairstylist And Won

Long Permed Strands Hair by Barbara Lhotan All Rights Reserved

The true story I'm about to tell will give hope to the many people who go to a hair salon requesting a specific service and leave with unfortunate results.

This is a story about how one hair consumer received justice over a "bad perm" started on May 29, 1998 when I received an email to AskKaren from Belinda Rodgers of Ireland. Belinda who gave permission to share this story wrote:

Hi Karen,

I had a corkscrew or spiral perm put in my hair around a week ago. When I left the salon, I was not particularly happy with the perm as it seemed on the limp side - indeed one of the junior staff who was given the job of drying my hair offered to put it in rollers!!!

I've had perms in the past which have taken very well, and have lasted at least 6 months. Yesterday I washed my new hairdo, and the perm is now virtually non-existent, more of a loose wave than a spiral curl. I have complained to the hairdresser in question, and am due to go back in tomorrow to see 'what they can do'.

This salon is one of the most expensive in Dublin, where I live - so it isn't a case of cheap haircuts or services.

I need to be armed with some facts before I go back in. Can I have another perm done so soon after a failed perm? I am concerned about the condition my hair may be left in, should they offer to do this.

Hoping for a quick reply,

Belinda Rogers

Karen's Commentary

Short Hair With Loose Spiral Curls by Andrew Mulvenna - North Ireland - All Rights Reserved

Hair by Andrew Mulvenna North Ireland All Rights Reserved

I was not surprised by Belinda's email. I receive a lot of AskKaren email from people who have had unhappy experiences with spiral perm chemical services.

I wanted to help Belinda the best that I could. My primary concern for her was whether having another spiral perm applied to her hair so soon after the first was a good idea.

When a perm is reapplied there is always a risk of hair damage from the chemicals.

On May 30th, I wrote Belinda the following response:

Hi Belinda,

I just received your email as soon as I got I hope this is enough time for a response.

First of all, I would personally ask the salon to give me a refund for the perm service. I wouldn't recommend letting them give you another perm on your hair within just days of doing the first perm. There is definitely a risk of damage to your hair from having the perm reapplied so soon to your hair after the first treatment.

There is, in my opinion, the real possibility of them "burning" your hair because your stylist may decide to apply a stronger solution to make sure the second perm takes. Or your stylist may leave the perm solution in your hair for a longer period of time. Either option is could cause concern for damage.

If the salon doesn't want to give you a refund for the original spiral perm service and wants to immediately redo the perm, request an extended credit for a new perm in a few weeks. Try to wait a reasonable amount of time before you go back for the second perm. Explain to the salon you wish to give your hair a rest between perm applications.

Any type of chemical application to the hair can definitely harm the hair. I strongly recommend no one ever do two chemical treatments to their hair in a short span of time.

There are some stylists who will do color and perm at the same time. They avoid potential damage by wrapping hair in different colored foils and keeping the chemical treatments separate. They perm parts of the hair while they highlight others, but not the same sections of hair. This prevents tresses from having more than one chemical applied at the same time.

While it's possible you may be able to have a second perm application without damage, you might also experience fried tresses which might manifest as extreme dryness and/or breakage. A lot depends on the current condition of your hair after the first spiral perm treatment.

It's always best to allow your hair time to recover from any chemical processing. Apply a few deep conditioning treatments before having the next spiral perm treatment.

Unfortunately, even the most high end salons will not necessarily protect you from what you experienced. In some cases celebrities like Cameron Diaz, Kate Hudson and similar, have publicly shared their experiences with unhappy hair experiences.

Some stylists who are very talented at cutting hair may not be as talented with color or perms. Stylists who are great with color and perms, may not be as skilled with cutting. Which is why sometimes it's best to find a stylist who specializes in the type of hair treatment you desire

The best protection you have when having your hair chemically treated is to do your homework and be firm about how you want your hair treated. If you're not comfortable with an instant redo of the spiral perm ask for other options. A redo is not always the best solution for your hair.

Of course if you are really unhappy you always have the option to firmly request a full money back and find another salon.

Thanks for writing and good luck. Let me know how it goes.



Long Curly Blonde Hair - Hair by Nicky Clarke - All Rights Reserved

Long Curly Hair Hair by Nicky Clarke All Rights Reserved

Belinda immediately responded with the following email on 5/30/98:

Hi Karen,

Thanks so much for your quick and detailed response. You have confirmed what I had suspected, namely the risk of fried hair!

I am due over in Los Angeles in about 4 weeks time for a music conference, and also have meetings with music industry types, which is why I went off to get my hair 'done' in the first place.

I thought I'd be clever and give it time to 'sink in' before I went - At least the cut is quite good if nothing else. I really don't think I'll risk another perm - the possible consequences are too horrible to contemplate.

I have a phobia about hairdressers anyway - They never listen to what you ask for...they always want to cut it in a big way...and it's always your hairs fault when it doesn't come out right ! - so I only go about every 3 years when I pluck up enough courage to accept the outcome (my mum trims it meanwhile).

I'm not a nervous hair person having said that - but I just think a lot of these people are rather dim with a bad sense of style - (have you noticed most hairdressers hair isn't great!!). My guess is the top stylists around the world probably are intelligent, and have a sense of style which is what puts them a cut above the rest !.

Ah well, at least my hair will survive, with a lot of scrunching and hair wax, it'll be o.k.

Best wishes - I'll send you a short note and let you know what wriggling the hairdressers do.


P.S. I already phoned them, and the receptionist told me 'well, we use very weak lotions you know, and perms always relax a fair bit within the first 3 weeks' !!!!!.

Karen's Commentary

After Belinda went into to talk to the hair salon about her unhappiness with the perm she immediately emailed me the results. Belinda also sent me a photo (which she gave me permission to display) of what her hair was supposed to look like with the spiral perm and what it turned out to be.

The difference in what she had asked for and what she received was very different as you can see for yourself.

Model's Perm and Belinda's Perm (Right)

Model.jpg (4073 bytes) Belinda.jpg (3334 bytes)

Belinda gave me the details of her visit to the salon in her very next email:

Hi Karen,

Yes, I've been in, had no joy and come out again ! raging !. I was passed from the original stylist, to a senior stylist, and finally the owner himself Mr. David Marshall (a rather overweight fifty-something living off past glories... I suspect).

The original stylist was o.k. and said that she thought the lotion may have been too weak. The senior stylist wanted to wash my hair and put sticky substances in to see if it curled (I refused, as I know that normally, if you spray these types of perms with water and scrunch, the hair should curl, which it wasn't doing).

I told her I wasn't prepared to let her attempt to force a curl into it when it was quite apparent there was only a wave.

As usual, they were trying to make me feel like an idiot. Mr. Marshall then came to see my hair. Whilst teasing it said rather condescendingly that he couldn't see a problem.

I told him that there was no curl only a wave. He disputed this, and so I raised my voice and said that there was no curl, but a wave and I wanted my money back.

He then claimed that he was 'not prepared to be abused like this, and I could leave the salon'. I replied that I was not prepared to be bullied into accepting a wave was a curl and I would complain to the appropriate authorities.

So now I guess I'll be writing to the newspapers. I have tried to find out if there is any authority I can complain to and can only find the Irish Hairdressers Federation.

I suspect they just help hairdressers along. I'm going to get a picture taken of my hair in its current state as proof. I have also spoken to a hairdressing friend of mine who used to be a top stylist in Dublin (now retired to look after her children).

She agrees that the perm I've had in no way constitutes a spiral perm, so at least I have an independent professional view on it.

The salon owner really has annoyed me, as he offered no recompense whatsoever, he's obviously relying on the fact that most women walk away meekly putting the experience down as just one of those things.

If you have any suggestions (I realize the U.S. is different from Ireland), I will gratefully accept them.

Once again, Thanks for your help


Curly Hair by Barbara Lhotan

Curly Hair by Barbara Lhotan All Rights Reserved

On June 1, 1998 Karen Shelton wrote:

Hi Belinda,

I am so sorry you had such a difficult time when you went to the salon to resolve your spiral perm issues.

It's unfortunate you didn't feel the situation was resolved to your full satisfaction and felt the owner was completely unsympathetic to your hair plight.

If the salon is not willing to work with you at this point you have several options.

It's very important that you be able to provide as much documentation as possible including any photos of your hair with the failed perm, cancelled checks, receipts and a journal of the sequence of events which have occurred.

1. If you paid by credit card you may be able to fill a chargeback and/or complaint with your credit card company. They will usually open an investigation into the dispute and will often be able to negotiate a satisfactory outcome.

2. If you paid by check the best option is to visit your bank and ask them what options they provide for disputing a payment. They can advise you of how to proceed.

3. If you paid with cash you can still file a complaint with a small claims court. You may also wish to discuss your situation with an attorney to get their advice on the matter.

4. Allure Magazine has a monthly column - No Problem ( or:

No Problem Allure Magazine 360 Madison Avenue New York, NY 10017.

If you send them a complete description of the problem, when it happened and your name and phone number, they investigate your hair and/or beauty service problems and may contact the shop. They then print what the shop did to resolve the problem.

Talk about major consumer pressures. Allure really knows how to do this because the shop knows that to have their name published in Allure Magazine with an unsatisfactory resolution would be the death to a shop. I don't know if writing to Allure would help you...but what the can't hurt.

Note: Allure Magazine no longer offers the No Problem service.

5. Post your experiences with the salon and Mr. David Marshall on Yelp or a similar consumer review forum. Be sure to post only the facts which you can confirm to avoid any type of defamation issues from the salon or Mr. Marshall.

Most salons understand the importance of making their customer happy and how damaging bad publicity may be for their long term business success.

While many salons may want you to just go away and not make any waves, they understand the power or bad press. The worst thing which can happen is for someone to take to Social Media to share their unfortunate experiences.

Sharing a bad experience applies a lot of pressure on the service provider, plus it saves some other poor unsuspecting person from the same horrible fate.

6. In the United States you can also write to the Attorney General of the state the salon is located in. Often if the service was for a significant amount they will investigate. Not all will, but some will.

7. You can write to the Better Business Bureau (BBB). While this may make you feel better, the BBB has not actual power to force a company to work with you over a dispute. You will have better luck with your credit card company or bank. However, it does help is some cases.

Please let me know what else I can do to help. I an always happy to investigate further on your behalf.

Please keep in touch.


Karen's Commentary

The last I heard from Belinda was at the beginning of June 1998. I knew she traveled quite a bit and had plans to spend some time in California. I wondered about her bad spiral perm and hoped everything had turned out well for her.

I always request AskKaren visitors, when they're willing, let me know the outcome of their experiences. I was delighted to receive an email from Belinda on September 7, 1998 with victorious news about her victory over her bad perm experience.

Belinda wrote:

Hi Karen,

It's been a long time since I was in contact with you - but the wheels of law turn very slowly - I was very fortunate in that I managed to get a hairdressing friend of mine to vouch that my hair was not permed in the style I had asked the rogue hairdresser for, and I had a letter drawn up to that effect, which she signed.

I submitted this with an application to the Small Claims Court enclosing a picture of my hair with a picture of a corkscrew as shown on one of the net sites for comparison.

I itemized my experience at the hairdressers and I also wrote to our main local newspaper - this got printed.

The hairdresser did not reply to the Small Claims Court when they asked him to respond to the allegations, so by default I have won - and he is ordered to pay the full amount of my claim (110 pounds which was the cost of my visit to them).

The only problem is how they are going to get the money out of him, if he doesn't cough up he will be asked to attend a crown court hearing and so on.... we will wait and see, but at least I have the satisfaction of knowing he did not get away with it.

I guess the bottom line is, if you're in the right - persevere. Thanks again for your interest and assistance.


Belinda Rogers

Model's Perm and Belinda's Perm (Belinda On Right)

Model.jpg (4073 bytes) Belinda.jpg (3334 bytes)

On September 8, 1998 Karen Shelton wrote:

Oh Belinda,

Thanks for sharing your photos along with the news of your victory over your bad perm. I'm so glad your friend stood up for you as a witness regarding your failed perm.

Would you be willing to let me share your experiences with visitors? It's totally up to you. However, I think it would be great inspiration for other people all over the world who have lived through similar disappointing hair treatments.

If you don't want me to post this for any reason, I will totally understand. If you want to post it, but change any names because of legal reasons, I would be glad to do that as well.

Congratulations on your victory. Thank you for sharing your experiences to date.

Best wishes,


I was very happy when I received Belinda's written permission to post the entire saga of her bad perm. Her victory over her bad perm was inspiration. I'm sure it'll help hair consumers realize they have options when they are unhappy with the services they receive from their salons and/or stylists.

On September 9, 1998 Belinda Wrote:

Dear Karen,

No problem ! Go ahead and display away.... the only thing I would say is... if you're going to just use a direct copy of my mail - check the spelling!

I often type these things out in a hurry and don't put the spell check on, (I have a 2.5 year old who causes major havoc in all departments when I'm not looking, so my brain is on two jobs at once!).

If you need any other info let me know.. I look forward to seeing the article. By the way, in the item that got printed in the paper, I basically complained about the fact that there were no independent bodies in Ireland that someone with a hair complaint could go to for a professional opinion - The Irish Hairdresser federation only looks after hairdressers, and as I said before - I approached around 10 hairdressers in my area and none of them would officially assess my hairdo (it's like some unwritten law, where they are terrified of commenting on someone else's work...although they're quick enough to comment when you're going in to get a new hairdo !).

I'm sure this must be a problem everywhere, so I was lucky I had at least one professional hairdresser as a friend, though I would have been happier with two separate opinions...still it worked out in the end.

And it only cost me 6.00 to use the small claims procedure !

Kind Regards


Thank you to Belinda for sharing all of her bad hair perm trials and tribulations with all of us. It's always great to publish a happy bad hair experience ending.

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Original Publication Date: 1998 - Revised Publication Date: 01/03/13

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