Chemical Treatments | Sunday Observer

Chemical Treatments

omen have always craved the ability to make their straight hair curly or to smooth away natural waves and curl. It is possible to style hair between washes, but this requires effort, so more permanent treatments are great time-savers.

Although the way perms (for waving or curly hair) and relaxants (for straightening hair) work hasn’t changed significantly over the years, they are being constantly refined and improved so they are kinder to your hair. Essentially they operate by chemically altering the inner structure of the hair and re-fixing it in a different shape. Some new products are able to scan the hair to detect variations in porosity, while others will rectify damage or loosen a perm that has been set too tight. Semi-permanent waves are also now available and these add volume without having to commit to permanent tight curl. They can be applied all over or at the root area in particular to add lift to flat hair.

Different types of Perms

Body Perms

Body Perms are very soft, loose perms created by using large curlers, or sometimes rollers, to wind the hair. The result is added volume with a hint of wave and movement, rather than curls.

Root Perms

Root Perms add lift and volume to the root area only. They give height and fullness, and are therefore ideal for short hair that tends to go flat.

Pin curl Perms

Pin Curl Perms give soft, natural waves and curls, which are achieved by perming small sections of hair that have been pinned into pre-formed curls.

Stack Perms

Stack Perms give curl and volume to one-length haircuts and are created using lots of different sized curlers to wind the hair. The hair on top of the head is left unpermed while the middle and ends are given curl and movement.

Spiral Perms

Spiral Perms create romantic spiral curls, an effect that is produced by winding the hair around special, long curlers. The mass of curls usually makes longer hair look much thicker.

Spot Perms

Spot Perms give support only on the area to which they are applied. For example, if the hair needs lift, the perm is applied just on the crown, creating height and volume in that area. They can also be used on the fringe (bangs) or side areas around the face.

Weave Perms

Weave perms involve perming certain sections of hair and leaving the rest straight to give a mixture of texture and natural-looking body and bounce, particularly on areas around the face such as the fringe.

Post-treatment tips

Having done the deed, you now need to treat your hair carefully and follow a few simple rules:


1. Don’t wash newly-processed hair for 48 hours afterwards, as any stress can cause the effect to change.

2. Use specialist shampoos and conditioners formulated for chemically treated hair. They help retain the correct moisture balance and prolong the new shape. Your hairdresser will be able to advise which you should use.

3. Always use a wide-toothed comb and work from the ends upwards. Never brush the hair.

4. Blot wet hair dry before styling, to prevent it stretching.

5. Avoid using too much heat on fragile hair. If possible, wash, condition, then leave hair to dry naturally.

6. If your perm has lost its bounce, mist it with water or try a curl reviver. These are designed to put instant volume and bounce into permed hair. They are also ideal for eliminating fizziness on naturally curly hair.

7. Expect your perm or relaxed hair to last three to six months, depending on the technique and lotion used.

8. Don’t use metal combs or hairgrips (bobby pins) on newly relaxed hair.