Alkaline, Acid and Exothermic Perms for Hair

Posted by admin - April 24th, 2010

It’s more than half a century that hair perms, also known as chemical waves, have been in rather wide use. Still, quite many prefer to avoid perming because of the common belief that perms can seriously damage the hair and make it brittle, dry, lifeless and fragile. Though, in most cases this happens because of incorrect use of perms. To avoid such drastic effect, it is recommended to apply different perms according to your hair type. All in all, there are three basic types of perms: acid, alkaline and exothermic.

Alkaline perms are considered to be the most popular type. The main reason for this can be the fact that they create a more firm curl that stays permanent for a longer period of time. Another reason is that are applied much more quickly than acid and exothermic perms: it takes only 20 minutes to finish the procedure. Moreover, they don’t require additional heat while applying. That’s why alkaline perms are also known as “cold” perms. They contain ammonium thioglycolate, an active chemical that makes an unpleasant smell during the process. Alkaline perms have a pH level of approximately 9.5, which is very high. Therefore, alkaline perms give strong and firm results on normal, thick, coarse and resistant hair. On the other hand, the higher the pH level of the lotion’s pH, the more damaging it is for the hair. This is probably the reason why certain conditioning agents are often added to these perms.

Acid perms are becoming more and more popular nowadays. They produce highly conditioned and flexible waves. These perms have activators added to them and generally require heat to open up the cuticle scales to get into the cortex. Though, additional heat may not be necessary in cases when the cuticle layer is damaged (in bleached or chemically treated hair). Acid perms contain a chemical called glyceryl monothioglycollate that has a milder acidic action. That’s why they generally have a slightly acid pH (from 5.5 to 7). Still, they are known to cause allergic reactions if used frequently. Also, because of their gentle formulation, acid perms take much longer to be applied on hair. In comparison with alkaline perms, acid perms  are more suited to fine, sensitive, bleached, fragile, porous, chemically treated, damaged or tinted hair because they minimizes the risk of hair damage have a mildly acidic action that.

Exothermic perms, or exothermic waves, are self timing and self heating. They creates chemical reaction that makes them heat up internally. The heat allows the lotion to get into the cortex and moulds the hair into its new form from inside. Exothermic perms give beautiful bouncy and resilient waves. They are thioglycolate free and have a neutral or low pH level what make them suitable for weak and fragile hair.

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