Difference between Alkaline and Acid Perm

Difference between Alkaline and Acid Perm

Hairstyles have existed for as long as humankind can remember. The main reason that led to hairstyles is that humans released it could be considered a beauty factor. On the other side, a perm is one of the many hairstyles. Perm is a short abbreviation of permanent, but the hairstyle is not permanent.

As man continued with his development and inventions necessary for our day-to-day activities, he also realized that some of the invented products could also be used within the cosmetic and beauty treatment field. Perming is one of those inventions.

Perms can be created using different methods, including either chemical or thermal. With the chemical approach, you can choose to apply either an acid or an alkaline base when making the hairstyle. You also have an option of coloring the hair or leaving it just like that.

When creating the hairstyle, the hair will be coated with certain chemicals and wrapped in rods for shape purposes. If the chemicals contain any acid, then the hairstyle will be referred to as an acid sperm. However, if the hairstyle contains a base, then it is called an alkaline sperm.

Alkaline Vs. Acid Perm

The main difference that exists between an acid perm and an alkaline perm is the fact that acid perm usually make use of glyceryl monothioglycolate as the active ingredient while alkaline perm makes use of ammonium thioglycolate.

What is an Alkaline Perm?

Alkaline perms are very common than acid sperms. They are also referred to as cold sperms. This perm has a powerful chemical odor that resembles that of ammonia. The chemicals used in making alkaline perms are also very harsh and can easily cause significant damage to the hair, including loss of hair.

It also offers h2 and firm curls that can last for a very long time. Alkaline perms also have the ability to cause changes in hair texture. It was introduced first in 1993 when different chemicals began being used in the field of cosmetics and a beauty treatment.

However, alkaline perming is considered as a harmful method and should not be done frequently. The attached perms will therefore remain intact for at least several months before the newly growing hair roots lessen the effects of the applied curls.

What is an Acid Perm?

Acid perm was the first perming method to be invented. Later it was introduced into the market at around the 1970s. Since the chemicals applied in acid perms are not that h2 or harmful, they take more extended periods to set. Heat is also a necessary component for the setting of acid perms.

The results for acid perms are always different from alkaline perms as acid perms will result in softer curls than alkaline perms. However, the effects will not last for an extended period. The only setback with acid perms is that they can easily cause allergic reactions. However, this may not be the case with every person who uses acid perms. It is also not harmful to the hair like alkaline perms.

Even though acid perming is not as harmful as alkaline perming, it still should not be applied consistently. Also, acid perms will not hold for a more extended period, but it’s not affected by new hair growth.

Difference between an Alkaline Perm and an Acid Perm

  • Alkaline perm makes use of a salt base referred to as ammonium thioglycolate, while acid perms make use of glyceryl.
  • Alkaline perms will not require heat for the setting and are also referred to as cold perms. Acid perms, on the other side, will require heat to set.
  • Alkaline perms only take 20 minutes to set, while acid perms will take more than 20 minutes to set.
  • Alkaline perms pH balance ranges from 8.2 to 9.6 while that of acid perms ranges from 4.5 to 6.5 acid perms.
  • Alkaline perms are more robust when compared to acid perms and can easily cause hair damage.
  • Acid perms can be applied on soft and damaged hair, while alkaline perms harsh chemicals make it unsuitable for thick hair.
  • Alkaline perms can easily cause hair damages, while acid perms can cause allergic reactions to the users.


Even though ‘perm means permanent hairstyles, it is not entirely the case with these two perm types. Perming only gives shape to the hair for a certain period. After that period, the hair will lose its shape and return to its original shape. Perming can therefore help you in curling or straitening your hair.

Arnold F. Willatt was the man in charge of inventing the cold wave back in 1938, which became the precursor of modern perms. At this time, no machine or even heat was applied, only chemicals. This later led to the invention of acid perm back in the 1970s after realizing how damaging alkaline perms could be. Acid perm was invented particularly for both soft and gentler hair.

As time passed, the introduction of other perming approaches came to into place. This included exothermic perms and digital perms, among others. This has made it possible for people even to perm their eyelashes.

Well, acid and alkaline perms both feature different capabilities ranging from chemical properties to the type of hair that best suits each method. However, the perfect approach can only be selected depending on the characteristics of each process and the user.

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