Step 4: Rinsing the Hair

When you think of perms, you probably think of frizzy 80's hair. However, they are more common then you think... but how do perms work?

Now that the disulfide bonds are broken down, you will want to wash the perm solution out of the hair.  Do not remove the perm rods because we still need them.  If you loose a few in the process, make sure to wrap them back in.  Make sure to rinse all of the perm solution out of the hair by letting the water run over the hair until it eventually runs clean.  This will usually take about 5 minutes of rinsing.  Also, make sure to get all of the hard-to-reach places like the nape of the neck and around the ears.

Once the perm solution is all rinsed out, the hair will be pretty wet.  Spend the next few minutes blotting the hair with a towel until it is damp.  Make sure the hair is not dripping water; if it is that wet, it will not absorb the neutralizer correctly.

Step 5: Neutralizer

When the hair is damp, you will apply neutralizer in the same fashion that you applied the perm solution.  The neutralizer rebuilds the disulphide bonds in their new shape (the shape of the perm rod).  This is why the size of the perm rod determines how tight the curl is.  Let the neutralizer process for 5 minutes.

Step 6: Rinse The Hair Again

At this point, I remove the perm rods while the neutralizer is still in the hair.  Then, you want to rinse the hair again until the water runs clear.  It should also take about 5 minutes.

After you are done rinsing, you should just towel-dry or air-dry the hair.  If it is cold outside, or you want to dry it, do it without vigorously brushing through the hair.  If you brush it, or style it right away, you risk pulling out the freshly-formed curls.  It is also recommended that you don’t wet your hair for 24-48 hours after the perm.. that includes washing it.  Let’s let Elle Woods tell us why:

Have you ever had a perm?  Did you know how they worked before reading this article?  I’d love to read your feedback in the comments section below…

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Hollee Wood is a professional hairstylist with over 10 years of experience in the hair industry. She loves teaching about the science of hair along with everything else beautiful.

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