Expert Advice

Not Your Mother’s Perm: New Texturizing Solutions

July 10, 2011 | 11:14 PM
New texturizing solutions for clients with limp locks.

According to Darby Shields, associate artistic director for ISO, there are two four-letter words in hairdressing: bang and perm. When it comes to perms “We now say ‘body’ or ‘movement’ or ‘texture,’” explains Shields. Whatever you choose to call them—texturizers, waves or perms—the technology has come a long way.

Not Your Mother’s Perm: New Texturizing Solutions
ISO’s Option Wave is free of thio and delivers results clients want.

Accommodating the Curl Craze

Demand is on the rise as texture has become increasingly fashionable. The whole process of creating curl has changed dramatically from the days of strong chemicals, perm rods and end papers.

Not Your Mother’s Perm: New Texturizing Solutions
Pravana’s Beach Wave uses soft “blocks” to create a natural, beachy finish.

In 1938, Arnold F. Willatt invented the cold wave. It used no machines and no heat. Hair was wrapped on rods and a reduction lotion containing ammonium thioglycolate was applied, breaking open the disulfide linkages between the polypeptide bonds in the keratin (the protein structure) in the hair. The disulfide bonds give hair its elasticity, and can be reformed with chemicals. Next, an oxidation lotion was applied, (hydrogen peroxide), to close the disulfide bridges again and the hair was reformed to the shape of the rod. The entire process took six to eight hours at room temperature.

A Kinder, Gentler Perm
The new generation of perms are much gentler, with lower pH and low ammonia. ISO’s Option Wave, for example, is completely free of thio, the activator found in many traditional perms, and also has a damagefree, low-ammonia formulation. The application also has changed dramatically from perm rods and end papers. Today’s tools are flexible and soft or no tools at all. “You can make pin curls and process that, if you want,” Shields says. “You can do just about anything you want.” “There is so much variety now, and that carries over to the textural spectrum,” says Steve Goddard, president and founder of Pravana Naturceuticals, the company that created the Beach Wave. “It’s not just about different cuts today. It’s about different textures.

Not Your Mother’s Perm: New Texturizing Solutions
Zotos’ Bain de Terre perm is gentle and thio-free. Illustrations by J. David McKenney

A Perm Primer

Need to brush up on your perm terminology? Here’s a quick guide to the lingo.

  • Root Perm: The root perm adds volume at the root of the hair to give lots of body. It’s also perfect for already permed hair that’s looking for a little pick-me-up. Because only the roots are treated, it saves the rest of the locks from another treatment.
  • Body Wave Perm: Creating big, bouncy curls, the body wave is for curl lovers who want a more modern look. Because this perm uses larger perm rods than traditional perms, the length of your client’s hair will determine how curly it will be: the shorter, the curlier.
  • Weave Perm: Because you’re curling only partial sections of the hair, the weave perm will give your client a fusion look with both textured and straight pieces in her hair.
  • Stack Perm: The stack perm is made for women who have a one-length cut. The treatment creates soft, layered curls for a natural look and is achieved by the use of differently sized rollers to the middle and bottom sections of the hair. The top is typically left fl at to look more natural.
  • Acid Perm: While it sounds harsh, the acid perm is actually gentler than the traditional alkaline perm as it has a lower pH level. It is specifically made for those with sensitive, fragile, or damaged hair.
  • Exothermic Perm: Referring to the gentle, internal heat that is characteristic of this treatment, the exothermic perm speeds up the processing time. The heat allows the lotion to absorb quickly into the hair, conditioning and strengthening the cuticle from the inside.
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