Styling Tips: Secrets to the perfect perm

Rosanne Ullman | July 10, 2011 | 10:11 AM

While newer hairdressers tend to avoid texture services, every successful veteran stylist seems to have a secret to the perfect perm. Most don't want to keep the secret; in fact, they'd love younger stylists to learn how to do great perms.

Salon owner and coach Ted Halone ( calls his pet method the "rod-to-roller" technique. Halone studied under famed perm experts Peter and Sally Hantz, founders of the Peter Hantz Company and widely respected educators back in the 1980s, when perms ruled the salon.

"Rod-to-roller is the least done technique, but the results are the best for the client," concludes Halone. The concept is to start with small rods that give strength and staying power to the perm, and then to transfer the hair to big rollers that create the actual style.

"I hear a lot of stylists say, 'I don't work with rollers. I just don't do it.' But with rollers, you can make a perm that is larger than your largest perm rod and resize the hair into big curl that still has the strength of the permanent."

Why not grab a mannequin and give it a try? The procedure goes like this:

  • 1. Set the hair in small rods and apply solution.
  • 2. After the manufacturer's recommended time, remove just two rods.
  • 3. Rinse off the perm solution from the hair that was on those rods, which will stop the chemical action. "This gives you time to play with the hair, resize the curl and redirect the movement," notes Halone.
  • 4. Roll that hair into one large roller.
  • 5. Repeat the procedure throughout the head, replacing every two rods with one roller.
  • 6. Reapply the perm solution.
  • 7. Leave the rollers in at least 10 minutes and longer if a test curl indicates that the curl needs more time. Says Halone, "There's no magic time because the hairdresser is the magic!"

Styling Tips: Secrets to the perfect perm  Styling Tips: Secrets to the perfect perm  Styling Tips: Secrets to the perfect perm

The entire process takes about two-and-a-half hours, so you should charge enough to justify the time you must spend on it. In addition to being a high-ticket service, it's a great way to develop loyalty in a client who wants to have beautiful, wash-and-wear curls!

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