How does a perm affect my hair?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Applying a permanent wave, or "perm ", or straightening one's hair is a chemical process. The chemicals used for this sort of process can be divided into three general groups, but the majority of products are of the thioglycolate variety. The basic method of action of these chemicals consists of breaking the disulfide bonds within the hair fiber, restyling the hair while the bonds are absent, and allowing the bonds to reform after the hair has been restyled. Potential problems with using these chemical treatments include a spectrum of damage to the hair, skin irritation and allergies, and even chemical burns. Obviously, care should be taken when chemical hair treatments are being utilized.

Hair Curlers

Continue Learning about Hair & Beauty

What would happen if I never cut my hair?
Discovery HealthDiscovery Health
Hairs on our heads grow approximately half an inch per month and have an average lifespan of two to ...
More Answers
What can I do to make my hair look younger and healthier?
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MDDr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Like the skin, the hair can reveal a lot about your overall health. Learn more about remedies fo...
More Answers
Should I wash my hair every day?
Dr. Michael Roizen, MDDr. Michael Roizen, MD
Most of us treat shampoo as if it's toothpaste for our head - we've got to use it every day. But tha...
More Answers
Easy Evening Hair
Easy Evening Hair

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.