How to reverse a bad hair perm

Getting a permanent wave can often help you achieve beautiful curly locks, but sometimes a bad hair perm will leave you with a frizzy, unworkable head of hair. It is possible to reverse a bad perm and straighten the hair using the same products you used to attempt to achieve your curly look.

Apply a deep conditioner for a week after the bad perm if the hair is excessively damaged. This will help recondition the hair and prepare it for permanent wave removal. If the hair is still relatively healthy, you can perform perm reversal immediately following the bad perm.

Purchase a permanent wave product with conditioners from a beauty supply or go to a salon for permanent wave removal. The perm product should contain both permanent wave solution and neutraliser.

Shampoo the hair with a clarifying shampoo to remove any build-up before performing the perm-reversal procedure. Do not rub the scalp to avoid any sensitivity to the solution.

Cover yourself completely in a plastic permanent wave cape and towel to catch any wave solution. Wrap permanent wave cotton around your head from the temple, around the ears and at the hairline to avoid any excessive dripping. Keep a towel handy for any drippings as well. Lean back in a sink if possible to allow the solution to drain as it is applied.

Put on gloves and mix perm solution according to package instructions. Self-heating perm solutions usually work best for perm reversal since they do not require a dryer for activation. Apply the permanent wave solution from scalp to ends starting at the back nape area and working toward the temples. Lean or lie back to avoid dripping.

Comb the hair continuously using a wide-tooth comb after the solution application until the level of straightening you desire has been achieved. This will generally take anywhere from one to three minutes. For straighter hair, use a comb with closer teeth.

Rinse hair thoroughly for three to five minutes when desired straightening has been achieved. Towel dry the hair by dabbing lightly with a towel. Avoid scrunching to maintain the straight form you have achieved.

Apply the neutraliser included with the perm to the entire head, saturating completely. Comb through evenly, ensuring you maintain the straight formation you have achieved. Let sit on the hairshaft for five minutes and then rinse.

Wait at least 48 hours before shampooing and conditioning. Condition regularly and avoid using harsh products because of the chemical damage caused by perming and perm removal. Use a leave-in conditioner daily to help smooth the hair and eliminate excessive porosity.

Things You'll Need

  • Permanent wave solution and neutraliser
  • Cape
  • Towels
  • Clarifying shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Comb (wide tooth and close tooth)
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About the Author

Robin McDaniel is a writer, educator and musician. She holds a master's degree in higher educational leadership from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton as well as a bachelor's degree in elementary education. She is pursuing a Ph.D. in adult in community education. McDaniel enjoys writing, blogging, web design, singing and playing bass guitar.