Love your straight hair but hate how flat it is at the roots? There's a perm for just such a predicament that will raise your roots but leave the rest of your hair alone. A root perm involves wrapping 1 or 2 inches of your hair around a perm rod and use a perm solution, on the wrapped hair only, to give a little bend to those lifeless roots. The result is instantly easy volume right where you want it.
Give your hair a light shampoo to remove any hair product. You need squeaky-clean hair to get the perm you want. Skip the conditioner, though, because that will just coat your hair shaft and make the perm solution work harder to curl your hair.
Section your wet hair for the perm. Take one of the perm rods you'll be using and center it, horizontally, on your forehead, along your front hairline. This perm rod is going to be your guide for the width of the section that will run from your front hairline to your back hairline.
Use a tail comb to make a part on each side of the perm rod that runs from your front hairline, back to the nape of your neck. When you're done there should be two parts running front to back, which created a section of hair that runs down the middle of your head.
Make a part, on each side of the head, that runs straight down from the edge of your top middle section to just behind the ear. This parting will divide your sides into two sections. Use hair clips to separate and secure these sections.
Starting at the front hairline, use the tail comb to separate a section from the big middle section that is as wide as the diameter of your perm rod. Here's a little trick to determine the diameter of your perm rod -- set your perm rod on its end so one side lines up perfectly with your front hairline. Slide the tip of the tail comb into the middle section of hair so it runs just behind the perm rod. Your section will be the right width every time.
Grab a piece of plastic wrap or a specially coated end paper and fold it in half. Wrap it around the base of your hair section so the section is sandwiched in the middle of the folded end paper and the ends of the paper meet evenly. Slide the end paper up the section of hair so the distance between your scalp and the top edge of your end paper is equivalent to twice the diameter of your perm rod. The hair covered by the plastic wrap or coated end paper is the hair that won't perm, and the "naked" hair is the root area that will be getting a lift.
Place your perm rod, horizontally, at the top edge of the folded end paper so the top of the rod and the top edge of the paper are level. Grab the hair above the end paper (the stuff not being permed) and direct it over the top of the perm rod, downward and then to the side. Hold the hair in place and begin to slowly, and evenly, roll the perm rod down with the other hand until it rests against the scalp.
Keep that perm rod from budging so much as a millimeter by grasping the cap at the end of the elastic band, pulling it to the other end of the rod and inserting it in the open end. The elastic should be sitting across the top of the perm rod. The unwrapped hair can be left poking out the side of each.
Repeat the wrapping process of measuring, sandwiching with an end paper, rolling and securing for the rest of the middle section and all four side sections of hair. Keep the tension on your wrapped sections even so you end up with the same-size curl in your root perm.
Apply perm solution. Remember to only apply the solution to the perm rod itself, not the unwrapped ends. Saturate each and every rod so that the solution makes it through to all the wrapped hair. Set a timer for 20 minutes.
Check your hair periodically on its progress, then rinse the perm solution thoroughly when time's up and blot the perm rods with a towel to remove excess moisture. Apply the neutralizer to each rod, just like you did with the perm solution. Leave it on five minutes, then rinse. You can now style your hair as desired and sit in awe at how much more volume your hair has.
Things You'll Need
5.Plastic wrap or coated end papers
Tips & Tricks
Use a gentle acid perm for color-treated or fragile hair. Use an alkaline perm for strong, hard-to-curl hair.
The longer your hair, the bigger perm rod you should use. You're looking for a little lift at the root, not a root-only poodle perm, so err on the side of caution and use a bigger rod if you're unsure.
If your hair is healthy and has no natural wave, leave the solution on the full time without checking it. If your hair is dry or has natural wave check the hair after 10 minutes by gently undoing one of the perm rods, unrolling it halfway and checking the curl (don't pull the hair -- leave it slack). If there's a good lift at the roots re-roll the rod and rinse. If not, re-roll and leave for the remaining 10 minutes.
Don't use traditional fiber end papers used for perm. They allow the perm solution to penetrate and you'll end up with an all-over perm instead.