How to Perm Hair

February 22, 2013

How to Perm Hair.

Once you have mastered the art of winding a perm, you then need to look at some choices you can make to assist the hairstyle the perm will enhance.

The 1st choice would be, which curling rod to use, these fall into 4 basic choices.

A curly perm -           use red & blue rods

·     A body perm -           use blue rods

·     A soft curl       -           use grey rods  

·     A large curly   -           use black & grey rods

So once that you have chosen the curl type, you need to look at which type and strength of perm lotion to use.

An Acid Perm Lotion, for a softer perm result

An Alkaline Perm Lotion, for normal to resistant hair types.

Although the name suggests that the Acid perm solution is harsh, it is not, this is the kinder of the perm solutions.

How a Perm Works.

The perm solution breaks the bonds of the hair down, an alkaline solution can do this on its own in a warm room, but acid solution need the help of heat to expand the hair, letting in the solution to break the bond down.

Before the perm solution is applied, use a barrier cream on the skin of the hair outline, take a length of cotton wool, 60cms approx., lightly spray down with water and wrap around the head, paying careful attention to the cotton wool going around the ears.  Apply a polythene bag over the rods to maintain the heat and moisture.

When this is done, you can apply the correct perm solution, for no more than 16 minutes before your 1st check, and if the hair does not look like it is take leave for 3-minute intervals, checking the hair each time.

I will use rough terms to give you a guide, but each manufacturer’s figures will vary.

I have used, Wella & Redken perms but for the last 20 years, I have used Goldwell perms, I will base the types of perm conditions on these perms.

Bio Curl (Alkaline perm)

0          Normal to resistant hair types.           Grey hair type

1          Normal to dry hair types.                   Normal hair

2          Weaker hair types                               Very fine hair


Bio Life (Acid perm)

1          Normal to dry hair types.                   Normal hair

2          Highlighted hair, weaker hair types    Normal to fine hair


NOTE; when the perm in finished the hair is swelled by the process, and needs conditioner to smooth the cuticle down.  The hair is roughly swelled by 12% from an alkaline perm and only around 3%-4% by an acid perm. This means that because the hair has gone through less stress with the acid perm it leaves the hair in better condition.

How to tell if your perm has taken:

Unwind a rod by approximately 1 & ½ turns, while holding the ends of the rod push back towards the head and you should see an S curl form, if the S curl seems not to have formed too well and you have hair lifting up when you push back towards the head, the perm may need a little longer, the 3 minutes I suggested.

Other indicators are, when you take the polythene bag off, instead of a smooth finish to the hair on the rod, it will look lumpy, where the hair has expanded.

I would suggest that you do not leave a perm solution on the hair for more that 23 minutes and good hair and less time for porous hair.

Once the bonds are broken down, they will take the form of the chosen rod, a small curl for a small rod, a larger curl for a larger rod.

You then have to rinse all the perm solution out, this rinse is normally around 7 – 10 minutes, then blot the hair to remove any excess water. This process removes all the perm solution from the hair and allows the neutraliser to do its job, if the hair is not rinsed correctly all over the neutraliser cannot “Fix” the hair into its new position or state.

Apply the neutraliser, leave on the rods for 10 minutes and then rinse for 7 – 10 minutes, take the rods out and rinse for a further 3 minutes.

Finally apply a conditioner to smooth the cuticle out.



John Mcloughlin on BBC Manchester Radio

April 24, 2012
I have managed to find the Radio Show by Alan Beswick, it was his Breakfast Show on BBC Radio Manchester.

Here is the YouTube Link:

Enjoy your hairdressing.
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John Mcloughlin Education : N. V. Q. Level III, Assessor Awards D32 & D33, Certificate in Education, BA in Professional & Vocational Education