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Perm and neutralise hair: Step 8 - The neutralising procedure

Neutralising is a permanent process that re-joins the sulphur bonds into their new curled position. If neutralising is not carried out correctly, the perm will be unsuccessful and the client will be disappointed.

Preparing for neutralising
Always read the manufacturer’s instructions before beginning to neutralise hair. You must comply with the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations by wearing an apron and gloves.

It is advisable to check the client’s gown and towels before beginning to neutralise in case they need replacing.

Water temperature and flow
You must wear gloves when rinsing the perm lotion from the hair, so it is therefore important that you keep checking with the client that the water temperature is comfortable. It is easier to rinse the hair free of perm lotion if the water flow is not too strong, as too great a flow will soak both you and the client. Always rinse with warm water, as the scalp may be tender and the hair delicate. The hotter the water the tighter the curl will become. The cooler the water, the looser the curl will become.

Why rinse thoroughly?
It is vital to the success of the perm that you rinse all the perm lotion from the hair. If any lotion is left in the hair, it will stop the sulphur bonds from re-forming fully and will result in a looser curl than expected that could even drop to completely straight.
After rinsing for about five minutes, use a perm indicator towel to test for any residue of perm lotion (the towel will change colour if any lotion is left). When you have rinsed sufficiently to remove all traces of perm lotion, blot the hair gently with a towel. This will allow you to sit the client up at the basin and apply a fresh strip of cotton wool around the hairline for protection. Use a pad of cotton wool to further blot any excess moisture from the hair, which could dilute the strength of the neutraliser. You are now ready to apply the neutraliser.
Rinse the perm for at least five minutes.

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