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Hairstyling/perm problem


Why don't my perms last more than a few weeks? I am a healthy 68 year old woman with very fine hair. I never had perms until about8 years ago. Since then I have been using omniperm exothermic. They would last about 3 months. About 6 months ago I noticed they would only last about 2 months. The last one was 2 weeks ago, and it is already gone. What should I do?


Jo Anne

Hi Jo Anne,

There are many things that can cause perms not to hold.

Mineral buildup on your hair from hard water
Not getting enough water out of the hair before applying neutralizer
Not leaving perm solution on long enough
Leaving perm so,union on too long
Not rinsing the perm solution out until you can no longer smell it before towel drying and applying neutralizer
Rinsing neutralizer out too soon
Leaving neutralizer on too long
Product build up from using the wrong shampoo for your hair type
Not wrapping the rods tight/loose enough
Product formulation changes
Hair changes over time as well

Do you see the problem? I've barely scratched the surface. Without  being able to get specific info from you, I can only guess as to why your perms aren't holding. What I can tell you is, if your hair feels normal, as though you never put a perm in it at all once it falls out, it's very likely mineral build up on your hair from hard water. That's just a guess, of course.  If there is wave and curl present when your hair is we, but it dries straight and frizzy it was either wrapped too tightly or the neutralizer was left on too long. If that's the case, there's not much you can do.  

Perms break the bonds in your hair and then glue them back together.  Only about 70% actually are repaired so overlapping perms is problematic as well.

What you can try right now is to clarify your hair and follow it with a protein treatment or two. Sometimes, it's just excess water being held in the hair shaft. Proteins will force out excess moisture, often putting the spring back in your curl.  If you a slight improvement, you can do the protein treatment again, once a week to continue to perk up the curl. I like either Insatcure by Matrix or CAT by Redken. Soy Tri Wheat conditioner from SexyHair is great for that too. You might also try a sea salt spray. KMS and SexyHair make the two I prefer to use.  

Hope hat helps. That's about all I can do without actually seeing your hair.  


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Dana Sear


I can answer questions on all types of hairstyling, cutting, designing, coloring, corrective color, perming techniques,product knowledge, and in general, anything that has anything to do with hair. PLEASE NOTE: I am a professional designer and trainer. I do hair and teach advanced classes to licensed designers. I do not, under any circumstances, recommend doing chemical services including but not limited to relaxers, perms, color, highlights, or any other chemical service at home. I will not tell you how to use professional products nor will I tell you how to do your color at home. What I CAN do is arm you with current and accurate information and help you to be able to better communicate with your stylist/designer. I can also help you with what you need to do at home to maintain, protect, and treat your hair.


I have been a designer and educator for 31 years. I have been a salon consultant for Redken, affiliate trainer for ABBA Pure and Natural, Director of Education for my own salon and am currently a member of the design team and advanced trainer for my company. I specialize in corrective color, perming and style support, and image updates (make overs)

I have been actively licensed for 31 years. I actively participate in and teach cutting, perming, coloring, and business building classes. I am a REDKEN Certified Haircolorist, and REDKEN Specialist. I also have extensive training in Structure in Motion Cutting Techniques and Tigi Cutting.

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