Did you leave the salon with bouncy, perfectly curled hair, only to watch your perm going straight within days? It’s frustrating when you spend money and time lying in a chair for hours for a perm that appears to be turning flat too early. What went wrong?
To understand why your perm is going straight, it’s crucial to identify the main underlying reasons. If you know the basic chemistry of the perm, it will be easy to find out why your curls aren’t holding up.
People will tell you all sorts of reasons on the internet like you used the wrong shampoos, didn’t moisturize your locks after the perm, or have been sleeping the wrong way at night.
Well, these factors rarely cause the perm to go flat!
With my practical experience in the field and the amount of research we have on our blog about perms, I can tell you the main factors that might be causing your curls to go straight over time.
I will also explain ways to help you revive your perm. So, let’s get started!
6 Main Reasons Might be Causing Your Perm to Go Straight Early
Knowing the basic chemistry of a perm is crucial to unravel why it is going straight prematurely. Anything, a product, or hairstyling practice that can undo the change the perm brings can cause your curls to go flat.
Let’s take a quick look at what goes into perming your hair.
There are three main steps. First, the stylist wraps your hair around the perm rods using a specific pattern.
In the second step, a solution containing a reducing agent, such as ammonium thioglycolate, is applied to your hair, breaking the disulfide bonds holding hair strands in specific conformation.
Your hair strands will set in the new shape according to the wrapping pattern around the rods.
A neutralizing solution is applied to restructure your hair’s disulfide bonds in this new shape, which readjusts your hair’s pH to its normal level of 6.5.
Now, after you have got your perm and can feel your bouncy curls, any product or a practice that can break and change the disulfide bonds to their regular conformation can cause the perm to go straight too early.
Further, I have discussed the factors that can cause your perm to get flat within a few days by breaking the rearranged disulfide bonds.
1. Washing Your Hair Right After The Perm
Whoever gets the perm has this knowledge of not washing their hair for at least 1-2 days after the procedure.
Perms rely on forming new disulfide bonds to create curls, so washing your hair immediately after a perm or within the first 48 hours can compromise those lovely curls.
During the initial hours, these bonds are weak and easily disrupted by water and shampoo. So, early washing can weaken the bonds, making your curls go straight or limp prematurely.
2. A Stylist’s Mistake
There can be different ways a stylist may ruin your perm. One common reason your curls won’t last is not softening the hair strands enough before applying the waving lotion.
Or the waving lotion your stylist used was mild compared to your hair texture and strength. In this case, you might see beautiful curls at first, but they will go straight within days.
Not neutralizing enough is a big reason perms go straight too fast. This happens often if the stylist messes up or you try to perm hair yourself at home.
Neutralizing is super important to lock in the new curly bond pattern. If it’s not done right, some bonds don’t get reformed.
Then, the hair can go back to how it was before. This means the curls won’t stay or drop out quickly.
The step where disulfide bonds are broken is also crucial. The time and volume of perm lotion depends on your hair volume and texture.
If you have used less volume and not let the lotion set on your hair enough, the curls can go flat within a week, in a few instances, overnight.
3. A Perm Followed By Hair Bleaching or Dyeing
If you bleach or dye your hair after getting a perm, it may cause your curls to go straight sooner than expected. The chemicals used in bleaching and coloring can weaken your hair’s disulfide bonds, which were rearranged during the perm process to make your hair curly.
Therefore, bleaching or coloring can relax your new curl pattern and loosen it up by changing the conformation of the rearranged disulfide bonds.
So, your perm will likely go a bit straight after you bleached your locks, especially when done aggressively or repetitively.
However, a gentle highlight or tone with a less aggressive bleach likely won’t unravel your curls overnight.
4. Using a Protein Mask or Treatment on Your Permed Hair
Protein treatments, often used to nourish and moisturize hair, can unintentionally alter the pattern of your perm. It happens because the proteins added to your hair strands can make them slightly heavier. Think of it as if your curls are losing their buoyancy.
Perming involves changing the hair’s natural bonds to create beautiful waves or curls. When you use protein treatments regularly, they infuse your hair with extra protein, adding a bit of weight.
Consequently, this added weight can cause your curls to lose their bounce and definition, and they may even appear straighter sooner than expected.
That’s why people who get keratin treatment complain of reduced volume or hair looking too flat.
So, while protein treatments are excellent for overall hair health, it’s crucial to use them carefully on permed hair to maintain those lovely curls you’ve worked hard to achieve.
5. Your Stylist Used a Wrong Perm Rod Size
When perming hair, the perm rods’ size is crucial in achieving curls that last for a long time. The perm rods wrap sections of hair around them to keep the hair in a curled shape while the perm solution sets.
Your hair must be wrapped two and a half times around the rod to get the perfect curl shape.
If the perm rods are too big for the length of your hair, it won’t be easy to wrap the hair around enough times to get a tight curl.
For example, if you have shoulder-length hair and use jumbo perm rods, you may only be able to wrap the hair around the rod 1 or 1 1/2 times.
So, not using the ideal rod size will likely get you the momentary curls that will go straight over time.
6. Heat Styling Your Hair After a Perm
Frequent heat styling your permed hair can affect the curl pattern. The high heat from blow drying, straightening, or curling irons can relax the perms, causing curls to lose bounce and become straighter or wavier.
It is because the heat weakens the protein bonds that were created during the perming process to set the curls.
Additionally, inconsistent heat styling or improper technique can lead to uneven curl patterns. Pulling your hair straight while brushing with a blow dryer will cause your perm to go straight over time.
How To Fix a Perm That’s Going Straight?
It is necessary to determine the reason causing your perm to go straight before going for a fix.
In cases where your perm straightens prematurely due to factors like washing your hair too soon or insufficient application of the perm neutralizer, a visit to your stylist for a retouch session is typically necessary.
It is essential to seek professional help for correcting technical errors in your curls, as attempting to fix them at home can cause more damage.
On the other hand, when your curls begin to relax due to external factors like protein treatments, hair coloring, or heat styling, understanding the cause allows for a more straightforward fix.
A curl-enhancing cream can revive and maintain curl patterns by providing hydration, definition, and control, restoring shape and texture.
Figuring out why your perm isn’t holding is super important. If it’s because of a mistake during the perm process, see your hairstylist for help. Try a curl cream if it’s due to coloring or heat. The correct fix will maintain your curls!