Save your hair from bad perms!

Published on Jan 21, 2015

Perms have come a long way since the '80s, when people sported classic maggi-mee curls. Now, perms can be modified and customised to give you exactly the kind of wave you crave.

People get perms to add body to limp hair or to achieve loose waves that define a sexy, tousled look. Whatever the reason, perms are definitely here to stay.

With Chinese New Year just around the corner, you may be considering getting a perm that would complement your gorgeous CNY outfit.

But what sort of curls should you go for, and how long will the effects last before you're back to your original hair again? Is your hair suitable for a perm in the first place?

Curious about perms, we speak with Veyond of  Chez Vous Hair Salon and find out that they've been receiving perming SOS calls from multiple customers over the past two weeks.

SOS calls?

Veyond: We've received several emails from the public asking for help to rectify the perms that they had done in other salons. We help fix those that we really think need it, as part of Chez Vous Expertligent Fix You Programme.

Expertligent Fix You Programme? Okay, I'm definitely intrigued. Before you rush into your nearest salon and book your perming appointment, read on!

What do you mean when you say you've received many perming SOS calls? What happened to their perms? 

Veyond: I'm guessing that the reason for this sudden influx of "SOS" emails is because Chinese New Year is around the corner. Many ladies are perming their hair to prep for the festivities, but unfortunately, many are receiving unsatisfactory perms due to their lack of understanding of perm services.

Can you share with me some examples of botched perms and the outcomes after the Expertligent Fix Programme?

Veyond: Sure! Are you ready?


Case 1

This customer came in with bend marks on her hair. See the severe dent on the hair near the crown area? Bend marks are caused by incorrect placement of roller bands, which might break the hair during processing time. Bend marks also disrupt the flow of the curls and waves. Her hair also showed signs of over-processing, possibly due to the lotion strength selected and poor managing of processing time.

This customer wanted modern, young looking soft gentle curls, but the rod size used was too small, creating small curls instead of big soft curls. The stylist also wound the rods above her ears, which created an "aged" look instead of a soft, young look.


Case 2 

This customer came in with unruly curls, caused by uneven tension due to inconsistent winding of the rods. The curls didn't last for more than four days, and the hair had already lost its elasticity before her perm, due to previous damaging chemical services. Due to a bad haircut, both sides of the hair were also uneven in terms of length and thickness. 


Case 3

This customer had a heavy haircut that weighed down her perm, causing it to have no texture and shape. The uneven tension applied also caused the curls to look very different; some were pointing out and some were curling in. There were also signs of over-processing, possibly due to the lack of pre-treatment protection. The customer wanted young and soft looking curls, but was given small curls that made the whole look very "old".

From damaged, tired looking hair to silky and radiant curls! I guess it really matters where you go...

Veyond: It is sad to know that there are so many ladies in Singapore receiving unsatisfactory perms. Most of them don't know where to seek professional help and end up living with the bad perm for months and months. Little do they know, there are many ways to prevent such incidents from happening!

What are the common complaints you receive about badly done perms?

Veyond: The worst case that most customers with unsatisfactory perms face is dry and frizzy hair. When hair is over-processed, there is a possibility that the hair will snap or get damaged beyond repair. For such cases, it may not be possible to salvage the hair, even if any salon attempts to re-perm, straighten or even treat it with Keratin. The only way out is to cut away the damaged portion and remodel the hairstyle.

The few common reasons for this kind of damage are:

  1. Over-processing in terms of chemical solution strength, heat or processing time.
  2. Stylists choose to go ahead with perm services even when the customer's hair is already badly damaged and unsuitable for perming.
  3. The customer has weak and fragile hair which may not be visible to the stylist during consultation because of regular moisture conditioning, which can make internally damaged hair seem healthy from the outside.
dry frizzy hair

We also see customers with unsatisfactory perms sporting haircuts that don't help accentuate the curls. Any chemical service, be it colouring, straightening or perming, should be complemented by a good haircut. This requires experience and good knowledge of hair flow and texture. A bad haircut will negate all the effort put in during a chemical service, no matter how successful the chemical service is!

frizzy hair

The other common complaint we receive is that the curls are too tight and small, or the curls do not last

overly tight perm

These concerns can be potentially rectified through a re-perm or relaxer treatment, but only if the hair is not badly damaged. Any re-work has to be technically precise and must be coupled with the correct haircut. The stylist will have to re-perm and straighten selected sections to re-create the look and prevent over-processing. This requires a lot of experience and knowledge. There are no room for errors!

So we should definitely look out for salons that have trained perming specialists! What are the things we should take note of before getting a perm?

Veyond: There are two ways to achieve the curls that many ladies desire - through Chemical Perm or StylingMany of us tend to refer to celebrities, models and influencers for inspiration and the latest hairdo ideas. 

nice cruls


However, many ladies have the misconception that they too can achieve those looks after a chemical perm. Many of them do not realise that most of the looks they like are created through heat styling, not a chemical perm.

But it's sometimes so hard to convey in words what we want exactly! How should we communicate what we want to the stylist?

Veyond: Pictures speak a thousand words when it comes to consultation! During consultation, show the stylist the look or style you have in mind with pictures or even videos. This will allow the stylist to accurately advise you about the post-service styling and maintenance required, and whether the style is attainable or suitable for you.

Avoid using supposedly “universal” hair terms (like "gentle waves", "Korean curls", "volume curls", "natural curls" or "bed hair") during consultation without the help of pictures! These terms mean different things to different people, even for stylists within the hair industry.

I never thought of it that way! I'm guilty of communicating my idea with generic terms. Are there any unrealistic expectations that I should also avoid?

Veyond: The most common misconception that ladies have about chemical perms is that they will instantaneously achieve the look they desire. Many don't realise that there is a need for them to create the desired look with styling, be it using a hair dryer, round brush or curling iron. Styling is still important, even after a chemical perm! Every single individual’s hair is different, and there may be varying results when it comes to the longevity of the curls. Sometimes, it might take more than one chemical session to achieve the results that the customer desires, especially if it's the stylist’s first time handling the customer’s hair. This is also the reason why it's good for customers to stay put with their regular stylists instead of hop from one salon to another. It is like going to a family doctor - a family doctor can better prescribe and diagnose if they have a good understanding of your previous medical track record. They would know which medication or treatment works best for you.

Oops, I'm guilty of stylist-hopping too. So, if I do get an unsatisfactory perm, can I get it fixed under your Expertligent Fix You Programme?

Veyond: As  I really love to help customers do chemical work, I'm the usually one who helps fix our customers' unsatisfactory perms under our Expertligent Fix You Programme. However, due to popular demand, we are temporarily closing the application for our Expertligent Fix You Programme from now till 23rd January 2015. All slots have been taken up! We will not have the capacity to help those who are really in need of a fix before CNY, so we really hope that everyone better understands the dos and don'ts of perms so that unpleasant incidents can be avoided!

Also, not all unsatisfactory perms can be fixed. In the event that the hair is severely over-processed, the only way is to either treat it with Keratin or cut off the damaged portion. That's why we tell customers that it is sometimes better to under-process hair and avoid the risk of over-processing.

Those who want to sport a perm for CNY this year should definitely be more careful with their choices then! Can everyone get a perm? Are there people who should avoid perming their hair?

Veyond: There are no hard and fast rules, but as a rule of thumb, do not get a perm if you have damaged hair, if you prefer wash & wear hairstyles (i.e. hairstyles that require minimal styling or maintenance), or if you have permed, rebounded or bleached your hair more than twice within the same year. Do not ever let any stylists tell you otherwise! Why risk over-processing your hair?

Aww, I guess that means I can't perm my hair anytime soon then. Bummer. But for those who can, what do they need to do before and after getting a perm? Any special preparations?

Veyond: All customers should start undergoing a two-week intensive home care regime before getting a perm. This way, they can prep their hair before the perm, because most perms will cause a certain degree of damage to the hair due to the chemicals used.

Customers should focus on using protein rich treatments instead of just moisture rich treatments. Protein rich treatments help reconstruct hair and promote strength and elasticity from within. The effects may be less visible to the eye as compared to moisture rich treatments, but protein is critical in rebuilding your hair's inner structure. One of the best and affordable protein rich treatments is Redken's Extreme CAT Reconstructing Treatment, which can be purchased from many salons.

After getting a perm, be sure to give yourself some time to get accustomed to your new look. You'll also have to learn how to manage the newly formed curls. Continue to alternate between protein rich treatments and moisture rich treatments at home. A good monthly in-salon treatment is also beneficial.

Thank you Veyond from Chez Vous Hair Salon for sharing so many insightful tips on hair perms!

Now that you know much more about perms, what do you think?

Will you be getting a perm for CNY this year?

If so, book soon because we hear that slots are filling up fast at many of the top salons!

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