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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.


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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.