Should perms sit alongside cut and colour on your service menu? Karine Jackson thinks so – her Covent Garden salon is doing approximately 4 a day and is inundated with requests from new clients specifically looking for specialists at perming. She shares her learnings about how to maximise this service in the salon.
We’ve had so many requests for perms and volumising services recently – the perm is definitely back, but it’s much softer and gentler than before. I think the word perm brings up connotations of that super curly old-style perm but technology (and thankfully taste!) has moved on.
My top tips for successful perming include:
Test the suitability of the hair
We cut a small section of the hair off and perm it so we can see how it takes. If hair has a barrier on it from a build-up of silicone product (many high street shampoos contain this for example), the solution won’t be able to penetrate it and the client will need to use a good clarifying shampoo for around a month to break the coating down.
Manage the client’s expectations
Whenever things go wrong with a perm it’s usually down to the expectation of the client being at odds with the result of the service. I think the most common misconception with perms is that the client thinks they’ll wake up with beautiful perfect curly hair everyday – in reality, they’ll still need to look after the hair properly and style it to an extent to keep it in check. Consultation is essential here, and we also ask the client to sign a ‘contract’ to say they understand the advice we’ve given them – we do the same with our colour clients and it just ensures they take what you’re saying seriously.
Ask your client about the reason they’re getting the perm – do they want actual curls or just waves and volume – use images to establish the type of hair they want, it’s important to make sure this is a realistic result. Everybody’s hair is different so we can’t predict exactly what the perm will do, and this means they can last for different amounts of time, anything from 8 weeks to 6 months is normal.
Give foolproof aftercare advice
Some of the pointers we give to our clients include: it needs to settle in in the morning, it will look straight if you lie on it, it will go frizzy if you brush it, if you wear a scarf all the time that will flatten the area it’s sitting on. Most of it is rectifiable by wetting down and adding mouse but is important to know how to style it. Mousse or a similar styling product is an absolute must-have for styling a perm, but you can’t wash and go!
Know how your solution works
We’ve launched a new perm in our salon from Organic which is ammonia and thioglycoate free, instead containing a special additive that changes the natural pH level of the hair allowing the creation of a fresh clean curl.
The process is the same as a salon perm but is much softer on the hair. All brands will have a solution and I think we’ll see further advances with this area from product companies in the near future, with more sophisticated formulations on offer.
What could go wrong?
It’s one to avoid if a client’s hair is bleached or stressed as it may not be strong enough to hold a curl. In some people’s hair, the bond just doesn’t break down sufficiently, so it simply won’t take – this will be apparent with the perm strand test. If they’ve had an anaesthetic recently, or are on heavy medication such as antibiotics, they change the composition of the hair. This means the hair could react one way on one day, and completely differently 3 days later, so it’s worth waiting until everything’s left their system.
With traditional perm techniques, there is room for error when winding the perm for less experienced stylists which can leave fish-hook ends. Curlformers remove the chance of this happening as you’re simply pulling the hair through the Curlformers with the hook and it just sits in place, it’s so simple!