Are Perms Bad for Thinning Hair?
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When you think of perms, you probably conjure up an image of a grandmother with her short curly white hair perched on top of her head. Or, perhaps you recall women from the 80s with big, curly hair that somehow was wider than their shoulders. But, perms are not a thing of the past, nor are they only for older women. Perms can give you incredible waves or even make it look like you have the best salon blowout every day. For this reason, people with thinning hair may want to try a perm to get more volume. But are perms bad for thinning hair? Unfortunately, yes. Here’s why and what you can do instead to correct thinning hair.
How Do Perms Work?
Many people are willing to do just about anything to increase their volume when they have thinning hair. But so often, the styling tactics we gravitate toward actually worsen our hair density. Perhaps the most aggressive thing we can do is get a perm. Although appealing on the surface because it makes your hair look more voluminous and thick, perms can cause quite a bit of damage to your hair.
Perms use chemicals to change the texture of your hair. In past decades (and what your grandma probably used), salons would wrap the hair around plastic curling rods before applying a perm lotion. This lotion would “set” the curl while a person waited, and then they would rinse their hair out, dry it, and apply a neutralizer to stop the perm process from continuing.
Some salons still use rods, but newer options like fabric, finger rolls, or rollers allow for softer curls and waves to form.
Why Are Perms Bad for Thinning Hair?
While the chemicals used in perms may have improved since 1909, when perms became a big thing, the process of forcing natural hair into a curl requires damage at its core. About 95% of our hair is made up of a protein called keratin. These proteins molecules are strongly connected by cysteine, which makes a disulfide bond to keep all of the keratin molecules together, giving hair its structure. Chemicals like ammonium thioglycolate break those disulfide bonds, so keratin molecules are free to move around and form a curl around whatever is holding your curl in place (fabric, plastic rod, etc.). New disulfide bonds form while you wait for your curl to set, which locks the keratin molecules into place.
Perms only last a few months (or a bit longer, depending on the length of your hair and the look you want to achieve). So, the keratin bonds weaken over time, causing the hair to relax back into its original state, or even a more lifeless state than before your perm. And, if you have previously colored your hair, you may be left with thin, brittle hair with little structure.
For people struggling with already thin hair, this may create a problem because after the perm has resettled, they will have thinner hair and will naturally seek out another perm. Ultimately, the hair becomes too thin to do anything with, including further perms.
What You Can Do to Correct Hair Thinning
If you have thinning hair, you need first to identify what is causing it. If you do not know what is behind your thinning hair, you cannot effectively boost your hair thickness and volume.
Naturally thin hair
Some people naturally have finer hair unrelated to hair conditions or harsh styling practices. Even though it is just part of your genetics, you can do things to make your hair stronger and more voluminous.
Firstly, taking a hair support vitamin like the REVITA Nutraceutical Tablets can help your hair become more robust and may even encourage more hair growth when presented with the proper nutrients.
Secondly, you will also want to use a shampoo and conditioner system that adds volume to your hair. If you have previously color-treated hair, you will benefit from a restructuring shampoo like the NIA system, which reduces breakage and strengthens all hair types.
Lastly, styling your hair in specific ways can also make your hair look more voluminous. Talk to your hairstylist about the right cut that works best with your face shape and gives the appearance of thicker, fuller hair.
Thinning hair due to hair loss conditions
Certain conditions like androgenic alopecia are prolific. This condition, in particular, is the culprit behind the dreaded receding hairline, the bald patch on the top of the head, and vertex balding. Affecting both men and women, people can suffer permanent hair loss when left without intervention.
If you have this condition (along with other forms of hair loss related to medical conditions like alopecia areata), perms are not the solution for getting your volume back. Because hair follicles shrink in androgenic alopecia, your hair is already fragile and will take longer to grow back.
Fortunately, topical solutions that contain Nanoxidil 5% help your hair grow back. Where perms and other styling techniques do not regrow your hair, Nanoxidil 5% does, and it also makes your hair follicles stronger and healthier. You can find Nanoxidil 5% in products like Spectral.DNC-N (for men) and Spectral.CSF (for women).