254843-1007-32Tomorrow, I am going in for my first perm in over a year.  I used to perm my hair quite frequently when I was participating in pageants, but let it go because of the expense.  If you’re considering a perm, here are some things you should know.

Proper Preparation A perm can be very damaging to your hair.  To help prevent some of this damage, you need  to deep condition before and after.  I like VO5 Total Recovery.   This will give your hair a little extra shielding against the harsh chemicals.

The Right Tools Whether you plan to wear your hair curly or straight, you need to have the right equipment for the job.  You will need to purchase a diffuser cuff, a ceramic round brush, and a wide toothed comb.  The comb is essential for post shower use, the cuff is great for creating volume and curl on blowout free days, and the ceramic brush conducts heat better than metal with less damage to the hair shaft.

The Right Products When I wear my hair curly, I must have: John Freida FrizzEase Conditioning Spray, Nexxus Versastyler, Aveda Humectant Pomade and Tresamme light finishing spray.  No one wants crunch curls, but you need bounce and hold.

When I straighten my hair and there is a perm underneath, I need to protect my locks from further damage.  This is critical, or else you wind up looking like a frizzy Cocker Spaniel.  First, I like to repair with Ojon Restorative Treatment.  Smells funky, works great.  Then I add a heat protecting spray like Nexxus Heat Protexx before blow drying.  Then I blow dryer using the ion setting and a ceramic brush.  I also avoid any gels or hairsprays that contain alcohol as that will only dry the hair out further. Kerastase in the green bottle is great for protecting and repairing weakened hair.

Perm Decisions Beyond products and tools, you need to think about what kind of perm you want.  You can get a spiral (not recommended) or a simple wave.  A spiral will position the rods vertically, while a wave positions them horizontally against the head like a helmet.  A wave is good for body, a spiral is good for 80s style curls.  Recognize the difference.

Also, if you are just getting a perm for volume, use larger rods.  It will take less effort to blowout wavy hair than it will curly hair.

If you plan on wearing it curly often, spare yourself helmet head by asking her to alternate medium and medium-large rods.  This creates an uneven curl that looks more natural and has more movement than one size rod induced helmet head.  It’s also good to part your hair along your natural part when getting a perm and not down the center.  Following what your hair does normally will keep the curls from looking off kilter.

Lastly, if you have bangs, you may want to consider not perming them.  Fringes bear the brunt of perm damage, and can be left looking fried and frizzy.  Just ask your stylist not to roll them up and then run the cotton over the top of them to protect them from the chemical.

Avoid Color If you have colored hair, a perm will destroy your hair.  If your hair is dyed lighter, a perm will turn your caramel highlights platinum like some sort of deranged alchemist.  Tell your stylist that your hair is colored to avoid excess damage.  I haven’t colored my hair in about a year so I should be fine.

The bottom line with a perm is that before and after you need to be extra loving to your locks.  You can’t get a perm on Wednesday and start flat ironing on Thursday.  Pull your hair into a pretty curly updo for a few days and let it rest.  Avoid chlorine and drying hair products for awhile as well.  Permed hair is damaged hair, so treat it with a little TLC.

Where to Go for a Perm I’m trying a new place tomorrow: PR at Partners.  I’ve heard that the staff is competent, so I’m not worried about a massive screw up.  I had a perm at Salon Cielo years ago, and it turned out fine.  I also had one at Andre Chreky which was an unqualified nightmare.  Let me explain.

The stylist who did the actual perm was fine, no issue there.  But when she was done, they sent the blonde, Ukrainian-speaks little English, receptionist to style me.  She did not have an effing clue what she was doing.  How do I know?  Only a f***ing idiot would attempt to brush out a perm.  That’s right, she tried to style it with a boar bristled brush.

After I recovered from my initial shock, I told her to take her hands off of my hair in no uncertain terms.  I then asked for a cuff diffuser, a comb and some pomade.  I then styled it myself.  When I went to the manager to complain (loudly), I was told that my perm didn’t include a style anyway so I should have been grateful that they even sent someone to help me.  I told the man that I was sorry to hear that, but that I would never visit the salon again and would counsel every person I had recommended in the past to switch to St. Germain.  I did, they did, and we’re all much happier.

If you’re thinking about getting a perm, call the salon and ask a lot of questions.  Do they do perms (some don’t)? What is the price?  How long has this stylist been working in the business?  How many perms does she do a month?  What kind of perm products do they use?  (Aveda and others use an herbal product that is better for the hair.)  Does the price include a cut or style?

Cut it Up Lastly, I always schedule a trim for about a week or two after a perm.  It’s essential to cleaning up the dry, damaged ends.  I also ask for a conditioning treatment at the same time.  This helps alleviate some of the damage and returns life back to newly permed hair.

Though I fully expect that Teri at St. Germain will have an earful for me about perming my hair, she’s very anti-perm.  But what can I say?  I like big Texas Hair and I cannot lie.