Cold Wave Perming Techniques

Updated March 23, 2017

By cold waving your hair, you are chemically altering the structure of your hair. Cold-wave perms use an alkaline chemical. The perm does not require heat activation and is therefore called a cold wave. Cold waving is used to add body and curls to the hair but requires that you take extra care of it. Cold waves work best on hair that is free of chemical colour. Also, the more thick or coarse your hair, the better the perm will take if you apply it properly. If your hair is very fine, you may want to consider using heat styling to curl your hair rather than chemicals. Chemical curling and straightening can be particularly harmful to fine hair and cause breakage. Also, very straight hair that is also coarse can be resistant to the chemical perm process.

Virgin Application

Avoid relaxing your hair for at least six months before you plan to get a cold wave perm. The chemical works best on natural hair that does not have any relaxed strands. The application of perms and relaxers are similar and both require the use of chemicals. It is best for the health of your hair if you do not apply one chemical on top of another.

Deep Conditioning Preparation

You should apply a deep conditioning treatment to the hair prior to the application of a cold wave. This will ensure that your hair is healthy and in optimum condition before being broken down by chemicals. Even after the perm has been applied, you should regularly deep-condition your hair with a product that will infuse kinky or naturally curly hair with moisture.

Comb-Through Method

If your hair is thick and curly, you can comb the cold wave chemical through your hair to loosen your natural curl pattern. You must be sure that you protect the ends of your hair to prevent over-processing. In order to ensure that you are applying the product evenly, part your hair into four sections and apply the perm to each section. Set a timer to ensure that you are not leaving the product on your hair for too long. The standard application time is 10 to 15 minutes.

Rod Rolling

If you prefer your hair to remain curly, you can roll your hair with hair rods after applying the cold-wave chemical. Keep in mind that the smaller the roller, the tighter your curl will be. Even though the cold-wave perming process uses an alkaline perm, it can still weaken the hair, so you be gentle when rolling hair to prevent breakage. It is best to part the hair in four or eight sections and start rolling from the top down. Using roller-end papers may reduce damage to hair ends.

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About the Author

Kesha Ward has been a professional writer since 2010. With a Bachelor of Science in applied economics, she brings more than a decade of experience in public finance.