What Is An Acid Perm? Acid Perm vs Alkaline Perm

Hair is one of the things that you notice first when you see someone, especially now since we have to wear a mask now, so everybody is experimenting on their hair by colouring it and trying to get a new hairstyle.

Perm is a permanent wave; it is a hairstyle consisting of waves or curls set into hair. The hairstyle is obtained by treating it with chemicals that help it last for a long time, hence the name perm (permanent). In earlier times perms were made by wrapping straight hair in rollers or rods, and a perm solution is applied to the hair (cold perm).

What is an acid perm?

Acid perms are made by using mild chemicals that have a pH between 4.5-6.5. They are free of ammonia and instead contain a chemical called glyceryl monothioglycolate, which is said to be gentler in the hair while giving beautiful perms. If you are someone who colours your hair frequently or gets anything that includes chemicals into hair, then you should get an acid perm.

The acid perm lotion contains activators that require heat to open the cuticle layers of the hair shaft. Acid perms can last for about 3-6 months. The lifespan of a perm also depends on how you take care of it. Acid perm was introduced into society in the 1970s but it was set back by people who believe that it was extremely harmful. But now the perm is popular in its 70s form as well as its modernised version

Acid perm Vs Alkaline perm 

To select what perms you should get for your hair, it is necessary to know the difference between the two.

Acid perm

  • Introduced in the year 1970 and uses a mild chemical to create perm on your hair.
  • The active ingredient in acid perms is glyceryl monothioglycolate.
  • The lotion doesn’t have any strong smell, unlike its alkaline counterpart.
  • To activate the mild chemical present in it one requires the use of heat.
  • Takes longer for hair to set compared to alkaline perms.
  • The gentle chemical creates a looser curl and relaxes faster.
  • May cause allergic reactions when your hair and scalp are directed to the chemical frequently or it might also cause problems if you are allergic to any ingredient involved in the process.
  • Strictly recommended that people with damaged or weak hair uses acid perms
  • Lasts for about 3-6 months

Alkaline perm 

  • Alkaline perm is the most commonly used perm.
  • The active ingredient in alkaline perm lotion or chemicals is ammonium thioglycolate.
  • It is strong and has a pH value between 8.2 and 9.6.
  • The solution may have a strong smell due to the presence of ammonia and hence you might need to make an effort trying to wash it off.
  • Unlike acid perm they do not require heat for activation, hence it is also called cold perm.
  • In contrast to acid perm which takes a long time to activate, alkaline perm will take just 20 minutes.
  • This perm is suitable for thick and coarse hair.
  • Alkaline perm is preferred to acid perm because it gives a firmer and stronger curl that lasts longer than the ones you get by opting to get an acid perm.
  • But due to the strong nature of the chemical, it is more damaging to the hair. 

How to take care of your perms?

Here are a few points to keep in mind while taking care of your perms.

  • Preach the words of a legend who said in a courtroom that “The first cardinal rule of perm maintenance is to not touch it for 48 hours.” So yes do not do anything to your hair for the first 48 hours and you should most definitely not take a bath because then you probably can’t use it as your alibi.
  • Do not comb your hair for 24-48 hours, after that try to use wide-toothed combs.
  • Also, try to keep your hair loose instead of tying them up for the first few days.
  • When I say don’t take a shower I mean don’t let your perm touch water, so if it isn’t clear, avoid swimming. If possible, avoid swimming for a few weeks or longer according to the advice from your hairstylist because the chlorine in the water is not going to do your hair any good.
  • Stay clear of anything that involves heat styling products or products based on silicon for your perm to last longer and for it to look as good as the first day for a long time. 
  • Reduce the use of shampoo and increase the use of conditioner. 
  • Use hair products that will help you keep your curls safe and beautiful. That means using products that are curly hair or wavy hair-friendly and those that are comfortable on chemically treated hair.
  • If possible, get protein treatments.
  • Don’t color your hair for at least 2 weeks before and after getting a perm.

 What are the side effects of getting a perm?

  • May leave your hair damaged, more if it is alkali so if you want less damage opt for an acid perm. The damage can be severe if the products you use are not right and the perm is not done right.
  • At times it will also lead to dandruff formation in your head (If the perm lotion is not washed away properly.)
  • May lead to hair reduction 
  • It might strip your hair of your natural oils.
  • Try to get your hair trimmed a little bit regularly.

 Some home perm kits you can use

Make sure to read the instructions on each product before you use them, make sure to use it the right way. Your hair is in your hands, if you don’t use it properly it will be in your hands literally (exaggerated)

  1. Ogilvie Home Perm
  2. One ‘n Only Shiny Silver Perm with Argan Oil for Gray Hair
  3. Ogilvie Salon Styles Home Perm for Normal Hair
  4. Zotos Quantum Extra Body Acid Perm
  5. Zotos Acclaim Extra Body Acid Perm for Normal, fine or Tinted Hair
  6. Iso Perm Professional Option Perms 


How to perm your hair?

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