What is a Volumizing Perm?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A volumizing perm is a style of permanent wave which is designed to create volume in the client's hair, with less of an emphasis on the curls associated with classic perms. This style of permanent is suitable for a range of hair types and cuts, and it tends to be less expensive than a traditional perm. These perms also fade out much more quickly than traditional perms; a volumizing perm lasts around six weeks, rather than the six months or more associated with other perm techniques.

Volumizing perms will fade out faster than regular perms.
Volumizing perms will fade out faster than regular perms.

Just as in a regular perm, chemicals are applied to the hair to relax it at the start of a volumizing perm. The hair is wrapped around heady rods or curlers, which may be of various sizes, depending on the desired wave. Before a neutralizer is applied to the hair to set the perm, the rods are taken out, so the curls relax slightly, forming a bouncy wave rather than classic tight curls. The resulting wavy hair will have more volume, giving a textured look to flat or listless hair and creating the often-desirable bounce associated with healthy, beautiful hair.

A volumizing perm puts less emphasis on the curls associated with classic perms.
A volumizing perm puts less emphasis on the curls associated with classic perms.

The chemicals used in a volumizing perm are identical to those used in conventional perms, which means that they can be very hard on the hair. After a perm, clients should follow directions from their hairstylist to ensure that they care for their hair properly. Generally, perm-safe shampoos and conditioners need to be used, and deep conditions are recommended to restore moisture to the hair. A perm should also be brushed, combed, and dried with care.

Because the chemicals used in permanents are harsh, most stylists do not recommend perming dry or color damaged hair. They also usually recommend coloring after a perm, after a wait to allow the hair to recover from the perm. An ethical stylist will tell clients whether or not they are good candidates for perms, and they will recommend the type which is best suited to the client's needs. If you are considering a perm of any type, bring in a reference photo to discuss your desired look with a stylist; you don't want to walk in asking for a volumizing perm and walk out with the tight, springy curls of a spiral perm.

Many salons offer permanents, usually through a technician who specializes in the technique. It's a good idea to ask for a portfolio of previous work, to demonstrate the technician's experience and skill, and you may want to ask about what the salon does in the case of a bad outcome. Many salons offer refunds or store credit in the case of bad hair experiences, but it's a good idea to find out about the salon's policy before anyone's hands touch your head.

Volumizing shampoos and conditioners are typically less damaging to hair than a perm.
Volumizing shampoos and conditioners are typically less damaging to hair than a perm.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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