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How Do I Get the Best Spiral Perm?

Wanda Marie Thibodeaux
Wanda Marie Thibodeaux

To get the best spiral perm, a person has to select the perm product that is appropriate for her hair type. Once she knows the appropriate perm to use, she can select a cosmetologist highly-qualified in perming, prep her hair with conditioning agents and a wash and select the right size rods for the spiral effect desired. Considering the amount of hair involved, as well as face shape, will ensure a spiral perm that looks good.

Getting the best spiral perm starts with examining your hair type. Fine hair tends to be very hard to perm because the protein scales of the cuticle or outermost layer of the hair sit very flat, making it difficult for the perm solution to get into the hair shaft. At the same time, fine hair has a smaller diameter and therefore generally cannot stand up to the stress of an extremely harsh product.

If your hair is damaged, opt for a perm that is intended for use on processed hair.
If your hair is damaged, opt for a perm that is intended for use on processed hair.

Normal hair has mid-sized cuticles which aren't especially roughed up, but don't sit quite as flat as they could. This type of hair generally responds well to just about any chemical process and has the largest number of options for hair care products. Coarse hair is the thickest of all hair types. The cuticles on coarse hair are very rough, meaning the hair has a harder time regulating moisture and is susceptible to dryness.

Washing the hair prior to perming is recommended.
Washing the hair prior to perming is recommended.

There are three basic types of perms: acid, acid-balanced and alkaline. Of these, acid perms have the lowest pH and are recommended for brittle or damaged hair. Alkaline perms have the highest pH and are ideal for people with extremely healthy hair. The higher the pH of the solution, the stronger it is and the firmer waves or curls a person gets with a spiral perm.

People who have fine hair usually need to stay away from alkaline perms. Acid perms are ideal because they are gentlest, but if the cuticles are very stubborn and won't open with external heat, acid-balanced are next best. People with normal hair can use any type of perm, but staying with a solution with a lower pH keeps hair healthier. For coarse hair, an alkaline perm often is necessary because of the thickness of the strands.

Once a person knows what solution to use based on her hair type, it's important to condition the hair well. This improves the strength of the hair and minimizes damage. Even though conditioning is important, ladies who want the best results should not do it for about 24 hours prior to perming because the conditioner can create a barrier for the solution. For the same reason, washing the hair prior to perming is recommended. This removes oils and product residue from the hair, which increases the chances that the solution truly contacts the strands and works properly.

When ready to begin perming, the next step is to select the proper rod size. The right size depends on the effect a person wants and how long the hair is. A lady who wants a looser spiral perm needs to use a rod size at least one size bigger than the size that normally produces tight curls for her hair length. Something to keep in mind is that a person does not need to stick with traditional rods for a specific spiral look. As long as the item stands up to the perm solution and does not cause a negative reaction to the hair, it can work as a non-standard perming tool.

During the spiral perm process, it is helpful to set a timer. The timer ensures that the perm chemicals are left on for the recommended amount of time. This is important because rinsing out the perm solution and adding the neutralizer too soon provides weak results, while leaving it in too long results in over-processing of the strands and damage.

Not all spiral perms look good on everyone. Some people, for instance, have hair that is very thick and therefore needs a gentle spiral to avoid looking too wide and poofy. Thus, getting the best perm means determining how much hair a person has and what her face shape is. Ideally, the perm and face should create the ideal shape in cosmetology, the oval.

A person also can increase the chances of getting the best spiral by going to a cosmetologist who specializes in perming. Looking at the cosmetologist's portfolio is a simple way to determine his level of proficiency in perming techniques and styles. Additionally, reading reviews of the perm products and salons under consideration can provide some perspective.

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Discussion Comments


This site was really helpful to me, in understanding before I proceed to perm my hair.

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    • If your hair is damaged, opt for a perm that is intended for use on processed hair.
      By: Laurent Hamels
      If your hair is damaged, opt for a perm that is intended for use on processed hair.
    • Washing the hair prior to perming is recommended.
      By: Ariwasabi
      Washing the hair prior to perming is recommended.