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Ask the Experts: What's the Safest Way to Perm and Color the Same Head?

Maggie Mulhern | July 10, 2011 | 6:20 PM

Ask the Experts: What's the Safest Way to Perm and Color the Same Head?Joe Santy, chemical specialist and vice president of education for Dennis Bernard, answers.

“Common sense and a confident thought process on the stylist’s part are the first requisites. The rules that apply to virgin hair apply to previously chemically treated hair. If the hair is in good condition, then proceed with the service; if it is not in good condition, just say no. The stylist controls that dynamic.”

Until recently, color technology had outstripped the development of perm chemistry, Santy says, but new developments in perms have made good results quite attainable. The important thing is to learn about the new perms so that you choose the right formula, from the right manufacturer, for the right client.

Both color and perms soften and swell the hair to allow penetration of chemicals, i.e. perm lotions, so a first step, says Santy, is to use a protein conditioner or protein treatment before the service to improve the hair’s tensile strength and align the cuticle.

“Not getting the hair into shape prior to the service is like doing a beautiful painting and saying, ‘I should have painted it on a better canvas’ when you see imperfections afterwards.”

The traditional perm-then-color sequence is now reversed, Santy says. “Color should be done first, as the newer lotions can sometimes be too weak on virgin regrowth. Then, depending on the type of color service they have had, you might need to fill the highlights with a porosity equalizer, dry some protein into the ends of a single process, use whatever you deem necessary to keep that hair in shape during the chemical service. There are products to enhance the neutralizer that help with hair condition, curl resiliency and curl durability.”

Santy’s final “do” is to treat every client’s hair with a customized approach. “Really think about what you need to do to produce that result the client wants on her particular head of hair.”

He notes, “My personal definition of color and texture has always been: the ‘controlled destruction’ of the hair. The operative word is ‘controlled.’ The stylist who masters that control will have client loyalty and service volumes unknown to the majority of stylists.”

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