Eric Fisher Academy

What’s the Difference Between a Perm and Relaxer? What’s the Difference Between a Perm and Relaxer?

Your Guide to Chemical Treatments From Our Cosmetology School in Wichita, Kansas

You heard the words “perm” and “relaxer” used interchangeably – are they really the same? The short answer is not at all. These two chemical treatments use drastically different ingredients and need a professional touch from someone who’s been through cosmetology training at Eric Fisher Academy.

Learn the difference between perms and relaxers, and see how cosmetology school involves more than just cutting hair.

How Does a Perm Work?

A perm is a process in which a hairstylist uses a chemical treatment to alter your hair structure, so it permanently waves or curls. It works by breaking the peptide bonds in your hair and rearranging them as your hair is wrapped around a special foam rod. After the chemical process is over, your stylist rinses your hair with a neutralizer to reset the pH balance of your hair and complete your curls.

There are two types of perms – alkaline and acid. Check out the difference between the two:

Acid Perm
The active ingredient in an acid perm is glyceryl monothioglycolate, and it needs heat to be activated. It has a low pH value that’s close to hair in its normal state, which makes it perfect for hair that’s already been chemically treated or exposed to heated styling tools.

Alkaline Perm
This is also called a “cold perm,” and it uses the active ingredient ammonium thioglycolate. Unlike an acid perm, the alkaline perm doesn’t use heat, which allows the solution to remain on your hair for a little longer. This makes an alkaline perm ideal for thick or resistant hair.

Cosmetology School Crash Course – Exothermic Perms

Exothermic perms are self-heating and have activators that are added to your perm solution to help your hair shafts open up. They can be acid or alkaline. Learn more about the different types of perms with cosmetology training from Eric Fisher Academy, and nail down the science with this incredible chemical treatment.

How to Care for Your Perm

It’s critical that you avoid getting your hair wet for at least three days after your perm, because it takes a little time for the perming chemicals to form new bonds. Most experts recommend also waiting about a week to apply any heated styling tools or heavy hair products, because they can ruin your new curls. It’s best to simply scrunch your hair with your fingers to set your curls.

Here are more hot tips from our students who are working on becoming a cosmetologist:

Change Up Your Routine
Washing your hair too much strips your hair of its natural oils. These oils are essential for keeping your curls healthy and hydrated, which means you need to skip your daily shampooing.

Get the Right Products
It may seem like a slight difference, but high-quality curl enhancing products work! That’s because they’re lightweight and won’t drag down your curls. Do your best to avoid silicones, sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, and alcohol. These ingredients make your hair heavy and brittle, destroy your curls, and cause irritation to your scalp.

Get Regular Trims
It doesn’t matter if you have permed, bleached, or relaxed hair, getting to the salon for regular trims is always the best way to maintain your mane and keep your hair looking healthy.

Cosmetology School Crash Course – Amazing Service and Affordable Prices

Let’s face it, getting to the salon regularly can be super expensive. Did you know you can save money by getting your regular trim at a cosmetology school? The students at a cosmetology school near you have the skills and techniques to quickly cut your hair, so you can take your curls and go.

So, What Is a Relaxer?

Relaxers are chemical treatments that traditionally use a lotion or cream to break the disulfide bonds within your hair cuticle to straighten extremely curly or coiled hair. They can be marketed as base or no-base relaxers, but most experts recommend a base relaxer because it provides a protective layer between the relaxer and your scalp.

There are four kinds of relaxers – hydroxide (also known as metal relaxers), lye, low lye, and no lye. Here’s a quick breakdown:

Hydroxide Relaxers
These relaxers require little to no mixing and include the iconic metals sodium, lithium, and potassium. They’re combined with oxygen and hydrogen to form sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, and lithium hydroxide.

Lye Relaxer
The main active ingredient in lye relaxers is sodium hydroxide, because it effectively breaks down your hair bonds quickly. This is what most professionals choose when they want to relax their client’s hair. It needs to be applied quickly and evenly to get desired results, and must be monitored throughout the entire process. So, make sure your stylist has excellent cosmetology training.

Low-Lye Relaxer
Low-Lye relaxers have the lowest concentration of sodium hydroxide. This treatment is excellent for loosening bonds to make hair management easier, because it doesn’t completely diminish your curls.

No-Lye Relaxer
Lithium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide, calcium hydroxide, and guanidine hydroxide relaxers are considered no-lye relaxers. They take a little while to work and may not completely straighten your hair, but they are perfect for people with sensitive scalps.

Cosmetology School Crash Course – What’s a pleasing pH?

It’s a common misconception that cosmetology training is all about cutting hair, because there’s quite a bit of chemistry involved. The pH measures the acidity or alkalinity of a substance, and is represented by numbers ranging from 0 to 14, where 7 is neutral.

Greater than 7 on the pH scale means a substance is more alkaline and less than 7 is more acidic. Most lye relaxers range from 12 to 14, which is why most experts recommend a base relaxer.

How to Take Care of Relaxed Hair

Taking care of relaxed hair is a lot like maintaining permed hair, except you should avoid washing your hair for the first seven days after your treatment. Use the tips above, but add these other ones from our cosmetology school students:

Use Your Fingers to Comb Your Hair
Brushing your hair can pull on your strands and break them, not to mention chemically processed hair is already in a weakened state. Use your fingers to gently detangle your hair, and a wide-tooth comb to style it.

Get Conditioner Wash
Shampoo is especially rough on relaxed hair. Switch out your regular shampoo for a high-quality conditioner wash. It gently pulls out grease and grime while also keeping your hair super soft.

Don’t Forget About Your Scalp
A nourished and well-maintained scalp is key to healthy hair. Make sure you’re keeping it moisturized and perform scalp massages regularly to maintain growth. Ask your hairstylist about the right scalp treatment for you.

Cosmetology School Crash Course – Ditch the Heated Styling Tools

It doesn’t matter if you have permed or relaxed hair, heated styling tools like blow dryers and curling irons damage your hair when you use them regularly. Talk to a cosmetology school student about tips to style your hair without heat when you visit our student salon.

Can You Feel Our Chemistry?

Then get to Eric Fisher Academy so you can learn the tight turns of perms and relaxers. Our cosmetology school in Wichita, Kansas, has a spot just for you in our program – or you might find your passion in our esthetician school. The only way to know is by scheduling an appointment to talk with our admissions department.

Are you ready to dive into the details of cosmetology training? Call us at (316) 440-4782 or send us a message online to speak with a member of our team about enrolling in cosmetology or esthetician school. Don’t forget to schedule a service in our student salon!