Reasons That a Perm Did Not Take

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A hair perm can go awry for various reasons.
A hair perm can go awry for various reasons. (Image: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

A perm can take your hair from drab to fab for a special occasion. It can also be an attractive, easy-to-manage, everyday look. Whether you use a stylist or do it yourself, sometimes the chemical procedure doesn’t succeed for any number of reasons.

Human Error

The person applying your permanent may lack adequate skill and experience. If you're self-administering the perm, failure to follow instructions correctly can result in a bad perm with uneven results. Not leaving the treatment in the hair long enough could be a culprit, or using insufficient or too much of any of the chemical components.

Unprepared Hair

Hair texture can complicate the perm process. For example, your hair may be too kinky or damaged to allow the perm to take properly. Some sections of hair may be much coarser than the rest or a texture more difficult to perm, resulting in the need to have that area exposed to the chemical treatment longer.

Outside Interference

Your hair may simply be too fine to properly accept a perm, or a very recent hair coloring or other previous treatment may interfere with the perm chemicals' effectiveness. Drugs excrete through hair, so a perm’s ability to properly take can also be affected by medications such as Retin-A, hormones, iron supplements, and drugs for high blood pressure or low blood sugar.

Problem Prevention

If you're taking medication, consult your doctor about possible effects of the medicine on the perm process. Select a stylist who is skilled and experienced in applying perms. If you’re self-perming, carefully read the instructions prior to starting and strictly obey them. If possible, have an experienced person standing by to assist you. Also, use a curler size appropriate for your hair length and type, and avoid rolling the curlers too tight.

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