- Published: November 25, 2021
- Updated: November 25, 2021
- Language: English
- Downloads: 45
A permanent wave, commonly called a perm, involves the use of chemicals to break and reform the bonds of the hair. The hair is washed and wrapped on a perm rod and waving lotion is applied with a base. This solution creates a chemical reaction that softens the inner structure of the hair by breaking some of the cross links within and between the protein chains of the hair. The hair swells, stretches and softens, then molds around the shape of the perm rod. In addition, the term is often and incorrectly used for the process of de-curling hair (a process first developed by Renaud Whittington) a “ perm” strictly refers to curling hair. When hair is permanently straightened the process is refereed to as chemically straightening.
In 1938, Arnold F. Willatt invented the cold wave, the precursor to the modern perm. It used no machines and no heat. The hair was wrapped on rods and a reduction lotion containing ammonium thioglycolate was applied. This chemical breaks open the disulfide linkages between the polypeptide bonds in the keratin (the protein structure) in the hair. The disulfide bonds give hair its elasticity, and can be reformed with chemicals. Next, an oxidation lotion was applied, (hydrogen peroxide), to close the disulfide bridges again and the hair was reformed to the shape of the rod.
The entire process took 6–8 hours at room temperature. In the 1970s, acid perms were invented. These use glyceryl monothioglycolate instead and contain no ammonia. They are sometimes called buffered waves. This perm is slower but gentler to the hair. Heat is usually added by placing the client under a dryer, after covering the wrapped head with a plastic cap. The reaction is endothermic and the additional heat causes the pH to rise from 6. 9 to 7. 2. Perms today use this method with sodium thioglycolate instead of ammonium thioglycolate, at a pH of 8 to 9. 5. This method takes only 15–30 minutes until the neutralizer is applied to bring down the pH and rebond the hair. Other types of modern perms include exothermic perms, which are self timing and self heating; and neutral, or low pH, thioglycolate free perms. Digital perms were introduced in the 21st century and in use especially in modern Asian cultures. The process was patented and invented by a Japanese company, Paimore Ltd.
There are two parts to a perm: the physical action of wrapping the hair, and the chemical phase. Both of these can affect the result. Important physical variables involved are what type of rod is used, how the hair is wrapped and how end papers are used. The two most common types of rods are straight and concave; each giving a different curl effect. The wrapping method is either spiral or croquinole, and various types and positionings of end papers can be used with any combination of the above. Generally, smaller rods will produce smaller, tighter curls and increase the appearance of shortening the hair. The chemical solution used in the perming process is determined by the client’s hair type and the pH of the solution. Classic alkaline perms are used for stronger, coarser hair. They work at room temperature and usually contain ammonium thioglycolate in the pH range of 9-10. Acid perms are used on more delicate or thinner hair. They require outside heat application and usually contain glycerol monothioglycolate in the pH range of 6. 5-8. 2.
Permanent wave machine invented in 1928 by Marjorie Joyner — The first African American woman to receive a patent
Due to the harsh nature of the chemicals, it is important that contact with the skin be minimized. Modern chemicals are less irritating, but measures should still be taken to reduce contact with anything other than hair. A poorly performed permanent wave will result in breakage of the disulfide bonds through chemical reduction, because it fails to fix the newly formed bonds. This results in hair that is no longer elastic and flexible, but brittle and fragile. At this point, even combing the hair will result in hair loss. The hair shafts will experience fracture where they exit the scalp. Because the bulb of hair has not been removed, though, the hair follicle is not damaged and the hair will regrow; however, the temporary hair loss may be distressing.
A number of brands of home permanent kits are available, but their numbers have decreased as permanent waves are not as popular as they were in the 1980s. The first popular home permanent was the Toni brand, manufactured in Forest Lake, Minnesota. The Toni company used a set of twins to advertise their products; one with a salon perm and one with the home perm. Another brand that was a household name in Britain in the late 1960s and 1970s was Twink
While the word “ perm” evokes thoughts of curly hair, the truth is there are a number of perms available that affect hair structure in different ways. In its most basic form, a perm, or permanent wave, uses chemical to break down the hair’s chemical bonds, which make the hair naturally straight, wavy, curly, etc. Then, the hair is restructured into the desired appearance. The hair is composed of keratin, which at its most basic form is a protein structure that features many bonds to give hair its strength and ability to move. When permanent lotion is applied to straight hair, using a permanent wave method, the cystine and sulphur bonds of the hair are broken.
9 Reasons to Avoid Perms and Relaxers
9. Hair Breakage
If you think using no lye relaxers are less damaging than those containing lye, think again. There are two basic types of chemical hair relaxers – Sodium Hydroxide (relaxers containing lye) and Guanidine Hydroxide (relaxers containing no lye). The manufacturers of these products want you to believe that no-lye relaxers will not damage your hair. This is simply not true. The truth is those stunning pictures you see on the relaxer kits of black women with silky smooth hair are usually individuals who already have a good grade of hair. Don’t be fooled into thinking a mere $10 for a home relaxer kit will give you the same look; it is not that simple.
There is only one full proof method to avoid hair breakage from chemical relaxers and that is to avoid them. Relaxers permanently alter the natural pH balance and chemical breakdown of your hair. This process weakens each strand of hair. Hair breakage and scalp irritation are common side effects from relaxing or perming your hair and is not a solution for hair that is damaged despite what you may have heard. Let’s discuss a natural remedy for hair breakage using egg yolk and olive oil treatment. Applying one egg yolk and two tablespoons of olive oil to your hair while showering and rinsing with a mild shampoo is a home remedy that will help with hair breakage. You can use this remedy once a week and see a decrease in hair breakage. No chemicals, no burns; just positive results. 8. Hair Thinning
Hair thinning is inventible with applying chemicals. What we believe to be improving our hair is actually causing irreversible damage. Many women think leaving the relaxer in a little longer, or ‘ getting the edges’ a little straighter by smoothing it down with a fine toothed comb will give them the look they want. Well, the truth is, this overprocessing is causes more damage resulting in thinning hair, especially around the natural hairline. You see women all the time with thinning ‘ edges,’ and while there may other logical causes for this, it is a clear sign of the damage chemical hair straightening can cause. An easy fix is don’t use a chemical agent to try to thicken your thin hair; try oat flour. Two little tablespoons added to your regular conditioner will thicken thinning hair. Oat flour can be found at your local grocery store or health food store and costs far less expensive than over the counter beauty products. 7. Permanent Hair Loss
Permanent hair loss is not uncommon with the use of chemical hair strengtheners. What starts out as a burn and turns into a scab can ultimately end up being a permanent bald spot where your hair does not grow back. This is frustrating, not to mention embarrassing as you try to cover up the unsightly area. Permanent hair loss can also start out with an area of thinning and as time goes on the hair continues to fall out. The likelihood of permanent hair loss is increased with the use of hot combs, curling irons, and hair that is pulled tight by hair rollers. Instead of applying harsh chemicals, try a natural method to straighten your hair. As crazy at it sounds fresh coconut can gradually straighten those kinky locks without the fear of damaging your hair. You simply blend fresh coconut with lime and refrigerate. This will create a creamy mixture. Rub this on your scalp and cover with a hot towel for about an hour and rinse with a mild shampoo. If you do this three times a week you will notice the kinks start to straighten out. 6. Frizzy hair
Frizzy hair is a result of dry hair. This can be caused by a number of things – lack of moisturizer, infrequent or too frequent washing, lack of conditioning, or use of a perm or relaxer. Black hair does not take well to overconditioning. It can leave the hair flat and unable to hold a curl. Perms and relaxers do not help with frizzy hair; they only add to the problem creating dry brittle ends that lead to hair breakage. Flat irons and hair curlers only add to the problem. Let’s go with a natural method to prevent the frizzies. Create a rinse of apple cider or vinegar and lemon (1 ounce to 1 quart of water). Since acidity helps restore the ph balance and tames the hair shaft by closing the cuticle, applying after shampooing is a natural way to get rid of frizziness without damaging your hair. The best thing about this remedy is that you probably already have it in your kitchen. 5. Scalp Irritation/Burns
Leaving perms and relaxers on too long can case scalp irritation or burns. The problem is only worsened by using additional products containing alcohol such as hair gels or sprays. Alcohol-containing hair products can aggravate the affected area causing slow healing, further irritation, or permanent scalp damage. Treating scalp irritation should include removing dirt and oil from the affected area with a gentle shampoo and conditioning the hair. Applying antiseptic ointment to the area will help the healing process. Remember not to scratch or further irritate the area. 4. Split Ends
Your hair is made up of layers. The outer layer protects the hair shaft. When layer of protection is damaged with the use of chemical relaxers this causes the ends of your hair to split. This damage can travel up the hair shaft and cause hair breakage resulting in damaged uneven hair. Some say just trim the ends, but the truth is, perms and relaxers actually promote split ends. They dry the ends of your hair and wear down the protective layer. While trimming your hair is recommended with or without a perm, think of how much hair you are destroying each time you get a perm or even a touch-up. If you are trying to grow your hair long, you are fighting a losing battle with the use of chemicals. 3. Dry Brittle Hair
We all know that chemicals dry out your hair. This is not a secret. The makers of these hair products try to sell a dream and too many African American women buy into it to the tune of billions of dollars each year being spent. As their pockets get bigger, more and more consumers end up with damaged hair. This only means more money in their pockets as they (the companies) advertise different remedies to help restore the damage that their products have caused in the first place. Not everyone has bought into this pipe dream though; many African Americans are going back to their natural roots with dreadlocks and natural kinky twist hair styles. Even the ‘ afro’ has made a come back and it looks stunning. You need to know that chemicals do not repair dry brittle hair; they create it. If going straight is a must for you there are natural ways to get this look without applying chemical hair straighteners. 2. Scalp infection
Scalp infection as a result of perms and relaxers not so uncommon. There are several cases where consumers have filed lawsuits against the manufactures after using their products. In fact, some women are left with permanent bald spots due to scalp infection after the use of chemical hair straighteners requiring medical treatment. This is not the look that you want to achieve with the use of chemical straighteners; however, it may very well be the end result. 1. Respiratory (Breathing)/Gastrointestinal (Stomach) Problems As strange as it sounds respiratory problems can occur from using perms and relaxers. Potassium hydroxide, also called ‘ potassium lye’ is a very strong chemical and inhaling the chemical may cause coughing, sneezing, and breathing problems.
If exposed to for long periods it is strong enough to cause damage to your lungs. Ingesting potassium hydroxide can be equally damaging resulting in burns to the mouth and/or throat, vomiting, severe stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and even death. The effects of using perms and relaxers sound dangerous and it is; not just to your hair but to your overall health. Imagine something you apply to your hair having so many side effects – is having straight hair really worth the risk? While the pictures of silky shiny straight hair are enticing, the health risks are overwhelming and not advertised nearly as much as they should be. Hair breakage, going bald, stunted hair growth, scalp infection, thinning hair, respiratory and GI problems – seems like a big price to pay for having straight hair. Consider natural alternatives to hair straightening or even going natural with braids, twists, or locks. Look good and feel good inside and out without the risk of permanent hair damage from the use of perms and relaxers.
You’ll find two types of perms; the Alkaline wave or the Acid wave. These are measured by the strength of chemicals used, and each one will affect the hair differently. The Alkaline Wave is a great choice for thin or fine hair since it uses a highly potent chemical formula to hold the curl. The Acid Wave is a milder form of a wave, and is less likely to damage hair
Hair follicles shape the shafts of extruded keratin protein. To change that shape, disulfide bonds between proteins can be altered by permanent wave chemicals. The skunky smell of many old treatments used to “ permanently” change the shape of straight hair into curls, was due to chemicals that broke the bonds between the sulfur atoms that span neighboring proteins in a hair shaft and keep the proteins from sliding past each other. Hydrogen bonds connect the various parts of each protein and also contribute to the overall stability of the hair. Since hydrogen bonds are weak, low energy bonds, simply heating can permit some deformation of hair structure. Moisture can also loosen up hair proteins by insinuating water molecules in place of more direct interactions between proteins. Protein Structure and Function
Proteins are synthesized on ribosomes in cells as long chains of thousands of amino acids. There are twenty different amino acids, e. g. glutamate (a. k. a. MSG), leucine (supplemented to retain muscle protein during weight loss) or cysteine (disulfide bridges span two cysteines on the same or different proteins) that provide different chemical functions along the chains.
Hydrogen bonds release only about as much energy as encountered in the kinetic energy of individual water molecules as they collide with each other. So, individual hydrogen bonds would be continually broken and reformed. The helices and sheets of a protein are relatively rigid, so several hydrogen bonds must be broken simultaneously for a protein to change its overall shape. At higher temperatures, as provided with a curling iron or hair dryer, enough energy is imparted to the hair proteins to loosen up the proteins by breaking multiple bonds at the same time and permitting the hair protein, keratin, to stretch and slip past other keratin proteins. Cooling the protein in the new shape will permit new weak bonds and curls to form. Subsequently moistening the hair will let water molecules compete for the new bonds and permit a return to the original shape. Permanent Waves Alter Disulfide Bridges
Cysteine amino acids terminate in an -SH group that can form a disulfide bond (-SS-)with a similar group on a cysteine in the same protein or in an adjacent protein. These disulfide bonds lend strength and a certain amount of rigidity to keratin proteins and to hair. The disulfide bonds also limit altering the overall shape of straight or curly hair. If these bonds are broken with special sulfhydryl reagents, however, then more substantial and lasting changes can be made. Most of the permanent wave solutions contain sulfur molecules themselves, and that is why they have skunky smells. The hair proteins are stretched and contorted in new shapes after the disulfide bonds that hold them together in the shafts of hair have been broken (reduced). While in the new shape, the wave solutions are washed away and new disulfide bridges are permitted to form between new neighboring cysteines. This process is slow, and that is why washing the hair is avoided for a day or two. Hair Styling Reveals Molecular Biology of Proteins
Hair is made of typical proteins and the modification of these protein structures by heat and moisture reveals the underlying structures of the proteins. Similar protein shape or conformation changes underlie many of the complex functions of cells.